Those who have been following my blog for a while certainly remember Stacy Lewis, a fellow mother and friend who was diagnosed with a rare cancer about a year ago. The cancer -- called sarcoma -- is so unique, it can pretty much only be removed through surgery. But Stacy's large tumor was in a precarious place, blocking one of her kidneys and pressing on a main artery, so her doctors could NOT perform surgery until there was enough room or margin to remove it safely.
After her diagnosis, Stacy underwent a few rounds of very intense chemotherapy and radiation, knowing it may not even work since it normally doesn't on sarcoma. She had to travel 2 1/2 hours one way to get to her treatments so she was often separated from her children during this time. She was in a lot of pain and very miserable from the chemotherapy and radiation. She had some close calls due to infection and we almost lost her.
Back in December, I hosted a charity auction on my blog to help raise money for Stacy's family. I was (and still am!) amazed at the outpouring of donations and participation from my readers and friends. Nearly everyone I called on to help with the auction came through. We were able to raise almost $800 for Stacy and her family, just in time for Christmas. What a beautiful thing that was. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
Today, I'd like to provide a little positive update for you all. Below is a message Stacy sent to me about her progress. I wanted to share it with you all so you too can feel the hope and faith in her words. She is an amazing woman and she has inspired me to be brave, optimistic and just a better person all around. I hope she has done the same for you!
I had my surgery on February 21. The tumor's less-than-1/8th of an inch of shrinkage from the chemo and radiation, which broke my heart to learn that's all that was accomplished after two different types of chemo and intense twice-daily radiation, was the saving grace for me. My doctor said that without that small reduction in size, I would not be here. Because of the damage the cancer did to my kidney and surrounding nerves, my left kidney had to be removed, and the pain going down my left side into my leg has remained. However, they were able to get all of the tumor, and believe that I'm in complete remission at this time.
I lost more than 25 pounds in the two months after the surgery. I was unable to eat most of the time, and what I did get down didn't stay down. Finally, in the last couple of weeks, I have been able to increase my eating and have gained a few pounds back. It's nice to have dropped almost three clothing sizes, but the way it happened wasn't the best.
I've suffered from depression and severe insomnia since the surgery. My doctor believes its post-traumatic stress disorder, and has me on medication for depression. It's been difficult; I should be the happiest person in the world, but I've had a hard time figuring out what my place is now. My family survived almost a year without me ... it's hard to know how to jump back in to being normal again.
|Participating in Relay for Life -- May 2012|
My chances of relapse are 50%, so basically one out of two people with this type of cancer relapse within a year. I have to go back and have scans every three months, and I have to see a kidney specialist every few months as well, since my remaining kidney hasn't yet kicked into overdrive to compensate for the loss. I hope it still will ...if not, I'm looking at dialysis and possibly a kidney transplant. But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Right now I'm just focusing on living again; it's hard after spending a year dying. But I know that I'm here for a reason, and I plan to make the most of it. Being able to get up in the mornings and do the little things with my children is something that I used to take for granted, and after not being able to do those small things for so long, I am savoring the moments that used to seem so ordinary.
I am so grateful for all that was done for my family; we couldn't have made it through without the support of all of those who helped us in our desperate time. It's wonderful to know that there are still good, caring, loving people in the world, and I am so blessed to have been touched by so many. Thank you all so much.