How did I find out I have cancer?

Waaaayyyy back in February, I kept asking Jay to rub my back to get some of the knots out.  
(He totally wins the prize for most back and foot rubs given) 

One of the knots was not really a knot but a good size lump and after class the next day I stopped by the office to have the trainers and doctor check it out.  

It was a lipoma (a fatty tumor) usually benign and in many cases not even removed.  
But after some deliberation we decided to have it removed. 
It was benign and I started physical therapy to regain movement 
around the area of my shoulder blade.
We thought the lipoma had pushed up on a single rib causing pain in front where 
the rib meets the sternum.
I was told to wait 6 weeks before working out my upper body outside of physical therapy.
But being impatient went back to crossfit after 3ish weeks and while attempting to do a 
handstand push-up, I felt a pull. Later that day while doing a movement at physical therapy I complained that it hurt my chest and they noticed a large amount of inflammation.  They attributed the issue to that morning's crossfit fail.

I continued physical therapy for a few more weeks. The mobility in my back returned
and felt great, but the pain in my chest was not subsiding at all.

By April, Jay and I were frustrated and decided maybe it was time to see a doctor.  Jay quickly had an appointment for me and with and x-ray concluded there was a large amount of inflammation but no signs of anything concerning and was sent home with a 3 month prescription of mobic (a small pill equivalent to 3 doses of 800mg of ibuprofen) I disputed with the doctor the need for 3 months and he assured me inflammation of this kind can take up to 3 months to dissipate to which I responded not me, I won't use the initial first months supply. 

I continued physical therapy through May still seeing no sign of improvement in the chest.
My chest was raised noticeably and the inflammation would not subside. The therapists
gave me exercises, would do mobility to try to get the rib to move right and even
performed multiple rounds of dry needling (ouch!) 
finally determining I must have a torn pect muscle.

Frustrated I tried to limit the use of my upper body and rest to repair the torn muscle and after a few weeks was still using the mobic daily to allow me to function. Without it I would be in pain that would completely wear me out leaving me stuck on the couch hoping no one would touch me or bug me.
By mid June I was going a little crazy.  I couldn't do the things I wanted to do.
My chest was always sore even after resting it and keeping my morning workouts to
legs and cardio.  It was mid June that while working in the yard my knee pressed into
my armpit and it was incredibly sore.  I felt around with my hand and found a large
ping pong ball sized lump.  It was super tender. 

Jay was really worried now.  I made an appointment with my family doctor but had to wait 2 days, Jay wanted answers sooner and was able to have a doctor stop by the house.  He felt the lump and was mildly surprised by the size but assured my that it was a lymph node doing what they are supposed to do.  Lymph nodes are reactors and it is reacting to the trauma that has happened in my chest.  

But just for good measure, 
I kept my appointment with my family doctor 
to get a second opinion. 

My family doctor was surprised by the lump and wanted to know for sure if and to what extent the pect muscle was torn. An MRI was scheduled and it determined I indeed had an inch and a half tear in my pect muscle coming off of my sternum. The lump did seem to change in size but never went away. Typically lymph nodes that are cancerous are not tender nor do they change size. 

I asked if this could just be an infection and the doctor agreed a run of antibiotics would be smart. 
He also wanted to get a biopsy of the lymph node.

So he scheduled an appointment with a surgeon who explained all the minor things a lump in the armpit could be including that a lymph node can swell from a nick shaving.  Then he felt it and with a whoa that's big, wanted to see it on an ultra sound.... but since I was going out of town, there was no need to rush and change plans it has been around this long and there was no problem doing it when I returned. 

I had the ultrasound on the 29th of July.  
They saw 3 abnormally large lymph nodes. 
The radiologist assured me that large lymph nodes 
are common and instead of getting poked again 
suggested I wait 6 months and if they had not
 significantly decreased in size 
have surgery to biopsy then.

I scheduled the biopsy for August 2nd.

When the doctor spoke with Jay he gave him a few options of what it might be based on the look of what he took out.  The lymph node was large but also abnormal looking. So we waited for pathology
.....and waited.....
and waited.......
and waited.......

After a week with no results and the surgeon leaving town, I asked my family doctor to see what he could find.  He searched and searched then called late Tuesday evening. 

I was driving my grandma to her place in Sandy when the doctor called.  He wished it was face to face but reported the results to be Hodgkins Lymphoma.  He explained the cancer with it's high survival rates and common treatments.  He then opened up the following day to speak with both Jay and I in person whenever Jay was able to get away from football.

We met with him the next morning, Wednesday at 11:15, he answered all of our questions and started a plan of action that included choosing and getting into an oncologist asap.  He hoped before the weekend but no later than Monday.  Jay expressed his concern with his schedule, particularly this time of year and asked for that to be explained to the potential oncologist. We left still in a bit of shock but I was confident and optimistic.  Within minutes of leaving his office he called with an appointment set for 12:45 with one of the oncologists we had discussed.  

That is when it got real and got real, fast.  Dr. Johnson did a thorough medical history, a physical exam, took a bone marrow sample, blood work, scheduled a PET/CT scan for staging on Thursday, scheduled an EKG and pulmonary test, scheduled the consult on Friday, and port placement for Monday and finally, scheduled chemo to start Wednesday August 17th.

We are so grateful that after multiple times being told "you don't look sick enough for this to be something like cancer" and "it takes a long time for a torn muscle to heal" and "lets wait and see"  we have an answer and a plan.  I am a fighter and I am strong.  There are going to be some rough days ahead but both Jay and I know that we are so lucky to be where we are with a wonderful ward, neighborhood, friends, family and football family that will make the process much easier.  We have been watched over and so much over the past 2.5 years has been artfully designed by our loving Heavenly Father.  We are filled with peace and love.


Powla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Powla said...

Wow. I did not know all that you have gone through on this journey so far, but Ben says he was aware of your struggles. We both joined in fasting and prayer for you and Jay and your family this past Sunday. I know you are a very strong woman and are up to the challenges you have before you. I'm overwhelmed with all you will have to face though. I told Ben I was worried for you and he replied that while he has concern, he doesn't necessarily feel worried. He knows you can do this. I know there will be moments when you have quiet, personal battles that nobody will know about and those are the battles I pray for you to have strength and comfort while going through them. It is going to be tough, but I know you can do it, too!

I love and admire you and your strong spirit! ❤

Kelli said...

Hi, Sara! I also had Hodgkin's Lymphoma! Let me know if you ever want to chat! I was treated by Dr. Gray (he shares the office with Dr. Johnson!). I haven't updated my blog in ages, but you're welcome to check it out! Best wishes to you!! I hope all goes well with treatment!! ((hugs!))

Roo and Gina said...

As I've told Jay already, you and your family are in our prayers. Thankful to read, and I know, the testimonies you two have will allow you to find comfort during this earthly experience. We draw strength from your family, and I hope that you guys know of the support you have from all arenas of life. #stronglikesara

(Not sure you remember, we are good friends with Blake and Josie. All six of us went out to the movies in Boise while Blake and I were at Boise State. Jay and I served in PR together.)

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