Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Love Story

I posted about my love affair with PostSecret earlier this week, and shared some of my favourite baby-related secrets with you.  What I realized after I had hit "publish" though, was that my intention in writing the post was to show you a PostSecret I have loved for some time now. It was actually something I snagged off the PostSecret blog a year or so ago, and had uploaded to Facebook as a profile photo.

This is the secret:

I am comforted by thinking that maybe one day we'll look back and realize that we have the most amazing love story...
Before Jack was a twinkle in our eye, and shortly before we were married, I visited my family doctor to discuss some abnormal Pap tests.  I've had them come back abnormal, on and off, for about 8 years now. I had gone for repeat tests, been referred to specialists only for the results to come back "abnormal cells of unknown significance". I was told to watch these cells, and if anything changes, or if the abnormal results were to continue, I should consider looking into further options.

So, shortly before we were to be married, at my annual appointment, my family doctor asked whether we were planning to have children, etc. I confided in her that our hopes were to get pregnant in about a year (which, spoiler alert, ended up being the case!), and that before we do so, I'd really like something to be done about the abnormal cells so I can put that worry to bed.

She referred me to an OBGYN, who months after our wedding and after running more tests including the most excruciating pap test of my life (they took a biopsy sample from inside my cervix as well as my uterus- yyyyyyyeeeeeeeouch!) told me that my samples had tested positive for Adenocarcinoma- a cancer which develops from the mucus-producing cells of the cervix. <-- Longest run-on sentence ever. Forgive me?

I'm inserting this diagram here, so you can see what I'm talking about:

Got it? Good! :)

I had none of the usual symptoms: bleeding, bleeding after sex, spotting between periods, unusually long or heavy periods, pain during sex, etc. None. All I had was this history of off & on again abnormal cells. Yikes.

I was referred for a second opinion after being told the risk factors for the necessary surgery would put me at a higher risk for incompetent cervix. I remember BAWLING my eyes out, worried about the wee babies I had yet to conceive.  In November 2009 I met with a Gynecological Oncologist (I think that's his title?) who, while confirming I would need a cone biopsy to make sure the cancerous cells were removed, alleviated my fears by telling me he had numerous patients who went on to birth babies with no complications.

I went in for my surgery, the cone biopsy, on January 5, 2010. It was cancelled and rescheduled that day while I had an IV in my hand, due to a nursing shortage. (I'd curse our healthcare system, but to be honest I think I've had my fair whack). The surgery was rescheduled and performed January 13, 2010. The surgery, performed under general anesthesia, removes a cone-shaped (hence the name) portion of the end of the cervix, which provides more details of the disease, and also removes early-stage cancers and pre-cancerous cells.

The surgery was a success, and I was very lucky. I later found our that I did indeed have cervical cancer cells trying to migrate from the original site ::shudder::.

By the end of March or Early April 2010 I went for my follow-up examination with the Oncologist. He told me everything looked great, took a swab, and then we talked babies. I let him know if he told me I should wait, I would follow his wishes. I didn't want to risk IC, nor did I want to risk my own health.  He gave me to go ahead that very day, and wished me luck.

By the time I was in there in July, I was already a few months pregnant- we were extremely fortunate to conceive Jack on our very first month trying just weeks after getting the go ahead to start trying.  It was even more special to us, as the Oncologist actually told me that once I was done with having my babies, he would like me to consider further surgery (possibly a hysterectomy) down the line as to prevent any cancer recurrence or spreading. Apparently this stuff can come back- sweet... This is obviously something we would need to delve deeper into later down the road, but it certainly made us appreciate our pregnancy even more than we had.

And back to the PostSecret. I remember, after finding out I had this somewhat rare cancer for my age group (it tends to appear in women in their later thirties, apparently), thinking Scott and I would have a difficult road ahead of us. I knew that if we could get through something like that (while turning out to be quite minor as far as Cancers go, ::knocks on wood::), we could get through anything... Turns out, we can.

I knew that one day, we would look back and realize we have the most amazing love story.

I think it's even more true now.  One day, when we're old and grey and in rocking chairs in a retirement community somewhere, people will find out our "story" together, and be amazed we persevered, that we lost, and that we continued to love each other so very much.

Amazing love story? Indeed.


Becky said...

To look back and realize we have the most amazing Love Story- I love that. That really is a great one! Thank you so much for sharing these with us. I think I might have to get into them-googling about it now.

Precancerous cells, chance for a hysterectomy- sounds scary. Good thing nothing further has happened in the mean time and you are still able to have kids.

Thinking of you and Jack always

book fish said...

LauraJane: I got a scare reading your story (I couldn't even bear to read every word of it) but since you ended it on a good note, I'm feeling much better. And I want to tell you what people told me (it annoyed me then), that sweet little Jack will have brothers and sisters. Am sure you will get your babies once you start trying again.

TanaLee Davis said...

Heck ya! Your story grips me and makes me cry. I am so sorry to hear of your struggles further. I can relate in different ways but in the end...i'm here for ya and I'm ever amazed at your strength.

New Year Mum said...

Your post has brought tears to my eyes... you have been through so much in such a short space of time. You will one day look back with all your grandchildren around you and be able to tell them of your incredible strength and love for each other... with Jack looking over and near you all xoxo

Brooke said...

I love this thought. I got an amazing letter from the mother of a friend of mine--this woman had also lost a baby, twenty-six years ago. She wrote in her letter, "with the devastation comes unlimited love. The bond between a husband and wife who go through the loss of a child can grow even stronger than it was before." I know that the statistic is that losing a child can cause couples to break up, but I think, like you, that in the end it will end up being a tragic, heartbreaking, but incredibly important part of our amazing love story. I'd much rather have a different kind of story, of course. Less amazing and a lot happier! But you're right. If a marriage can survive this, then it can survive anything.

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