Welcome to 30DaysLindsey’sWay. Our goal is to support our friend Lindsey through her struggle with cancer! Read along as we blog about our life eating Lindsey’s way. Walk with us as we venture into the life of RAW foods! If you would like more information on how to participate or sponsor someone who is already signed up please use the contact page. We begin the diet on May 10 and will go until June 10. We can’t wait to support our friend Lindsey with this diet-a-thon and hopefully raise some support for her and her husband Bruce!
My whole story began back in June of 2006. It was the month before I was going to get married and I was so excited. I know it sounds cliché, but I felt like not only was I about to marry the man of my dreams, I was about to marry the man I had prayed for. He was everything I was looking for AND he loved me for who I was, despite all my flaws. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world.
Three weeks before my wedding, I was lying on my bed talking to my mother on the phone and I noticed something was making the lower part of my stomach bulge out. When I felt it, it felt like I had a softball in my stomach. After several tests, scans confirmed two masses in my lower abdomen- one engulfing each ovary. My doctor decided I should have surgery as soon as possible as there was a chance these masses were cancerous and scheduled me to have surgery the day after I got back from my honeymoon. He told me there was a good chance I might lose both my ovaries.
That’s a heavy load to carry with you as you’re preparing to walk down the aisle. Let alone ask your future husband to bear with you. When I asked Bruce if he wanted to “get out while he still could” given my potential future handicap of not being able to have kids and having cancer to boot, he just smiled at me, held me close and told me, “I want to be with you no matter what. You’ll be enough for me.” That settled it. We got married, and the day after we got back from our honeymoon I had surgery.
That day, they completely removed one of my ovaries and tried to save the remaining one by cutting off the part with abnormal tissue and leaving behind a small portion in hopes it would one day function well enough to allow me to have children of my own. A week later the pathology report was back- it was cancer. I was immediately referred to a gynecologic oncologist to discuss the next step in treatment. My doctor told me that there was a good chance the remaining portion of ovary they left behind still had cancer on it and suggested I have a second surgery to remove it and anything else I didn’t need. From that point, the plan was as soon as I was recovered from the first, I would have a second surgery and have a complete hysterectomy and staging surgery. It was my first four months as a newlywed, and I had all ready had two surgeries, lost my ability to have children, and was diagnosed with cancer…. this was not what I had pictured! I pictured romantic escapades and instead I got CANCER!
After the second surgery, when all the results were back it confirmed what my oncologist had suspected. There was already cancer growth on the piece of ovary that was left behind. Luckily however, there was no cancer seen on any other area of my abdomen. It looked like I had caught it early and I was diagnosed with stage 1C Ovarian Cancer. My treatment afterwards, was something called P-32 interperitoneal radiation-which is where they inject a radioactive liquid into the abdominal cavity and then I lay in a bunch of different positions to make sure it coats everything in my tummy. My oncologist reassured me that this treatment would be sufficient to wipe out any stray cancer cells lying about and I probably wouldn’t have to worry about cancer for the rest of my life. After that, all I had to do was have regular check-ups every 4-6 months.
After that came the hard part. My body was healed, but the psychological healing was going to take much longer. I was left with the scars of surgery and treatment on my body, but in my heart I had a hurt that could never be knit together so neatly. I was devastated to know I could never give Bruce a child of his own. As a nurse in surgery, I would see happy families experience the birth of their child all the time, but as they would cry for joy… I could only cry for the child I would never have. For the moments I would never share with Bruce. I would never hear him talk to our unborn child, or see his face after I told him he was going to be a daddy. I would never feel that thrill and fear when it was time for the baby to be born, or beam proudly over an ultrasound picture. It almost felt like the death of a child. I had seen my child’s face in my mind already a hundred times… but now, would never see it again.
In March 2008, my scan showed a suspicious lesion on my liver. I had more tests and none of them could say what it was. I couldn’t have a biopsy then because it was right next to a large blood vessel, too dangerous! So….I had to play the waiting game. Wait for a couple of months and have another scan to see how it behaved. Months went by and I had another scan. It showed five lesions on my liver, and two masses on my pancreas. After a biopsy, it confirmed…my cancer was back.
In August 2008, I started chemotherapy. I used to have long, strawberry-blonde hair down to the middle of my back. I used to run long distances and spend time outdoors. I used to do so much, but could no longer because chemo took that away from me. I was bald, tired… and broken. A fraction of the woman I once was. I was 26 years old when I started this treatment. A married and mature young woman. Yet, despite my age, this treatment had me lying on the floor of my bedroom, crippled in pain begging for my mom to come see me. I told myself it would all be worth it. A few months of hell for the chance at a lifetime.
But in December after all my courses of chemo had been completed… nothing had changed. I had sacrificed so much… only to gain so little. It seemed odd that the cancer had not responded at all to the chemotherapy, and to be honest… no one knew what to do next. If I didn’t respond to this treatment… who’s to say it would respond to a different one. New minds and new perspectives were needed, and I had to go find them.
After that I traveled to several Top Cancer Centers in America (Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan Kettering, etc.) and after seeing doctor after doctor and hearing opinion after opinion… I found the problem. The problem was… I was misdiagnosed. I had been diagnosed with Ovarian cancer, however upon closer investigation… doctors confirmed that I actually had a rare type of cancer called, “Metastatic High-Grade Neuroendocrine Carcinoma of the Pancreas.” Ever heard of it? I’d be surprised if you had. So, what do all those big fancy words mean? It means that I have a fast-growing cancer of the “neuroendocrine” cells on my pancreas, and that it has metastasized to my liver. And at the time, it meant no treatment, no recovery… no hope.
That’s when I started researching on my own for new and different ways to fight cancer. I fired my old oncologist and hired a new one. I tried new and cutting-edge treatments and ideas. I radically modified my diet and started changing my lifestyle to encourage health and healing. And in the end, what I discovered was that I wasn’t as helpless or as powerless as I once believed, but rather I had the power to contribute to my overall health and well-being. I merely had to act.