Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Quilt, Surgery and A Nerf Sized Tumor

Within days of finding out that I had another tumor on my pelvic bone and that I was going to have to undergo another surgery to remove it, my family and I had my cousins up to my parents house for dinner. My cousins have been huge prayer warriors for me and my family since we first found out about the original tumor in 2008. Friends of my cousin have a prayer group which makes "Prayer Quilts" for people they know are in the hospital or are going to have surgery, etc. This group of women make some beautiful quilts for people.

This dinner with my cousins was for me to receive my "Prayer Quilt." What a beautiful quilt it is as well. The purpose of the quilt is for these ladies to leave the final tying of the squares up to others who are or have been praying for that person. In my case, to this day, all my squares have been tied at least twice, which is a huge blessing to know how many people have been and still are praying for me. And, there are many that are not close enough to be able to tie a knot on my quilt, but they are still praying for me none-the-less. Do you know how many people that is? Let's just say it is in the triple digits. I feel so incredibly blessed to have so many people supporting me and my family in this way. And I am grateful to my cousin and her friends for creating the quilt for me.

Right now, this quilt is hanging in my bedroom for me to see and touch every day.

As tradition would have it,
grandma Marj always baked
our Christmas pies.
We were now closing in on 2010, getting ready to celebrate Christmas and Christ's birth. Christmas has always been a special time of the year for my moms side of the family. My dad's side of the family didn't really celebrate as their faith was not aligned with our family. None-the-less, my grandma baked the pies and had dinner with us while she was alive, even though she didn't believe as we do. I hold some very special memories and traditions we incorporated because of my grandma in my heart. I am sorry those traditions were not passed down so we could still share those with my dad. I feel it would have been very special for him if we had been able to.

All the girls in the early '80s.
However, with our family being so small, my mom still tries to make Christmas something extra special every year for us. Our newest tradition is opening our house to our neighbors on each side of my parents house and to any of my mom and dads friends we know are going to be alone. I also include a very close friend and her husband, Scott and Kathy Boyle, to celebrate with us as well. It's the one time of year I can sit down with them and just chill out, watch some football and talk. This time of year is also where our family takes our annual family and "girls" pictures.

The entire extended family photo.
When I was very young, all the ladies in our family would stand together and have our picture taken to see the generations (see above). After many years of not seeing part of our family, when we got back together and were talking about the things we "used to do," I had the idea of restarting that tradition. So, every year at Christmas (or Thanksgiving if Christmas wasn't going to work), the five of us ladies sit on the couch at whatever home we are gathered at, and we taken our annual "girls" picture.

But I didn't want to leave the guys out. I wanted to create a new tradition, and so we have someone take a family picture with the husbands behind their wives. And if we are blessed to have my grandfathers side of the family join us at the Newport Beach Annual Boat Parade party at my grandparents condo, I am able to get a picture of the whole family together (that has only happened once so far, see photo above left).

It was good to have a fun Christmas because it would be a very short time and I would be going through surgery again for cancer on my right leg and pelvis. So, as New Year's passed by, our family made several trips to the hospital for final testing and pre-op procedures. The closer we came to surgery day, the more real it became to me that this was happening.

Friday morning, January 15, 2010 was finally here. We took my dad's Jeep to the hospital. Mom had offered me a sweatshirt to wear in the car on the way up as it was a chilly morning. I declined as I was warm in the house getting ready. Once we were in the car and had switched freeways, my body was shivering out of control. This was not a normal response for me.

We arrived at the hospital and dad dropped mom and I off at the door to the check-in area, while he parked the car. I was still shaking uncontrollably. Dad joined us before I was called back to check-in with insurance verification and final signatures. I was still shaking uncontrollably. My name was called with a group of people and we were taken to the pre-op rooms. I was still shaking uncontrollably.

I changed my clothes to the hospital gown, hair covering and booties they require for surgery, answered all the questions with the nurses and finished all the current vital signs. I was still shaking uncontrollably. Finally, the anesthesiologist came in to talk about my sedation. I was still shaking uncontrollably. He realized I was going to need a sedative now because I was shaking uncontrollably. After several minutes from taking the sedative, the shaking finally stopped and I was almost ready to be taken in for surgery. Once out, I would have no idea what was going on until I had been awakened again in recovery. Hopefully, I would not be shaking uncontrollably (LOL).

After coming out of the anesthesia, I don't remember much of what my mom was telling me. She has a tendency to talk to me like I am fully coherent. I am sure I answered her with correct things, because I didn't get any responses later about not answering her. So, that was a plus in my favor. But, I do remember (and we have talked about it since) being told that the doctor came out to talk with my parents after surgery. Dr. Femino explained that all went well and the steps he took. He also told my parents the size of the tumor was that of a small Nerf football. What?!? This thing came out of nowhere and it was the size of a small Nerf football? How could that be?

Well, considering the size of the tumor it was not a surprise at all the doctors had to do. The remaining portion of my right pelvic bone and part of the left bottom portion had to be removed. My bladder had surgical mesh from my previous surgery attached to it, and when they tried to remove it, it nicked my bladder so they had to bring in a urologist to fix it. The tumor went down my right thigh slightly and had wrapped around either an artery or a main blood vessel. If they had cut it out at that point, it would have cut off the blood supply to my leg and I would have lost my leg (which was why we had the first surgery to save the leg). After all of this in surgery, my body had so much less flesh, that I had what looked like a sink hole from my lower stomach to my thigh. Even with swelling, it looked concave (and part of it still does).

So, recovery was a little rough this time around. I didn't have the brace like I did in the first surgery, which I was very grateful for. However, without the majority of my pelvis, it was very hard to walk. As you might be able to imagine, there is virtually no stability for the right side of my body as my core structure has been removed because of this cancer. Life would be much different now than it had been for the past 17 months. Again, I would need to rely on the Lord for my strength, both physically and spiritually.

Next..."Going Home is Not All It's Cracked Up To Be."

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Psalm 1:1-3

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I recognize that quilt! Love being a part of wrapping you with love...both literally and symbolically :) Love to you, my dear friend.