Healthy Living in the Carolinas

My Unexpected Journey

My Unexpected Journey

I had scheduled my annual visit with my doctor to check my cholesterol and other blood work.  I feel it’s so important to check in with your doctor annually even if you aren’t sick. Not to mention my HSA gives me $150 back for my visit.  The office called me the day before to tell me it wasn’t going to be a free visit as my OBGYN earlier in the year coded my visit as a wellness visit. I mentioned I was going to talk about my sinus issues anyway so I would still come in and keep the appointment and I still wanted my blood work done.

I am allergic to many things.  I have done 3 years of immunotherapy with great results. I was doing way better. It comes and goes, but this summer has been hard. I have been more inflamed than usual.  Keep in mind I have moved from IN to SC and new allergies can come up overtime. I would consider immunotherapy again, but this time I’m going to give acupuncture a try.

Now on to my cholesterol, I have tried everything under the sun to lower my cholesterol. This time, prior to my appointment,  I was doing no added oils in cooking or baking, rarely any meat products, barely any dairy and alcohol (along with my regular clean eating).  Atleast 30 days plus of this.

Fast forward to my appointment: I wasn’t feeling that great that morning. I felt a little tired but I was fasting for my blood work. I was sick of feeling phlegm in my throat. I told my doctor I had a cough off and on for months it seemed (which is what prompted the chest xray).  I rarely take antibiotics these days. I really don’t even recall the last time I have, but I was at the point I felt something wasn’t right. She decided to give me Augmentin and Predinsone. I really still don’t think I had a sinus infection but I was at a loss. This was the first time I had ever taken Predinsone. WOW! It works fast on inflammation I will tell you that. My nose was all open and clear while on it. After I stopped it I could start to tell it was leaving my system because some of the inflammation came back. I don’t feel too inflamed at the moment which is great.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matthew 6:34

Ok, another part of this story. My blood work came back and I was low in iron. My guess was because of my drastic change in diet, but just in case she ran a stool sample to ensure I wasn’t bleeding internally. That came back negative. YAY! Low iron can cause increased heart rate (which I had noticed lately on my fitbit) and shortness of breath (probably why I was coughing more than usual). To be honest my cough was more a “clearing of the throat cough”, but so annoying! After I started an iron supplement I felt worlds better. So, please make sure you are getting blood work done on a regular basis.

My cholesterol came back at 171! This is the lowest EVER in the 8 years of testing it. Only one other time has it been under 200. I was super pumped about this. So something I was doing worked!

Now, on to the chest x-ray. This was the first I have ever had one unless perhaps when I was a small child. She almost didn’t order it and I almost didn’t bother spending the money to get it as I knew my lungs were clear. And just like I had thought, my lungs looked clear. However, they found shadows on the x-ray!!!  Shadows ? Trust me, you know right away that isn’t a good thing. So that finding landed me a trip to the imaging center for a CT with contrast (first time for that too!). Then a trip back into the doctor for consult.

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.~ Romans 8:6 NIV

They weren’t sure what to make of the findings. They found two masses in my chest area. They weren’t even sure what type of specialist to send me to, cardio or pulmonary, but they decided on pulmonary because apparently the biopsy process would be less invasive. So off to a Pulmonologist I went for the first time in my life.  He went over my health, my parent’s health, my habits, my lifestyle, my symptoms (which I had zero) and said next step is a biopsy. This didn’t come as a shock. He really wasn’t sure what to think that this point.

I really like this doctor. He and I were on the same page with our personalities. He flat out said he knows my biggest fear is cancer. He knows people that come in with these CT scans are freaked. Hell yeah!  He said that based on all my info he will be surprised if it is cancer. I sure hope I don’t get to yell “SURPRISE” anytime soon. It could be an infection. It could be a sign of disease. It could be nothing. It could be cancer. It could be a lot of things.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7

Today I went to the ENT to make sure I didn’t have polyps or anything else causing the inflammation. He said it all looked great and to start back on zyrtec for a month. I plan to do this and start acupuncture at the end of the month. I have a friend that has cured her allergies from this acupuncturist. Crossing my fingers.

I will find out my results next week. The waiting isn’t easy, but I pray. I stay busy. I put my faith in God. I tell myself I can fight anything thrown at me with the same zest for life I do on a daily basis. A bad diagnosis won’t change my attitude about life. I am grateful for each day and I live each to the fullest and will continue to do so.

Cast all you anxiety on Him because He cares for you. ~ I Peter 5:7 NIV

Me at 6:30am waiting to go to prep

 

Thursday I had the bronchoscopy and EBUS (ultrasound). This was the first time I have been completely put to “sleep” with anesthesia. They had hoped to get biopsies of the masses but they couldn’t safely do it via this procedure. This was a possibility from the beginning. I guess once in there they found they are too close to a major blood vessel. My husband said the doctor seemed frustrated he couldn’t, but they did get good samplings of my lymph node.

I’ve done my part for now. Now I just wait. Wait on the results and the next steps.

Me and one of my therapy dogs after my procedure.

 

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! ~ Isaiah 26:3

Thank you to everyone that has prayed for me and continues to do so. I am grateful for you all.

xo Angie

UPDATE:  Since writing the above I have had a guided CT biopsy through my lung to get to the mass.  After a very long week of waiting, it was confirmed: I have cancer. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  It’s a blood cancer of the lymphatic system.

There are so many symptoms this can bring on, but still I only had the mild cough.  A PET scan was done to stage me and I was staged at 2A. (2 meaning it’s in two parts of my body above my diaphragm: I have two small ones in my neck that “glowed” on the PET scan in addition to the ones in my chest area and A meaning I have none of the B symptoms: night sweats, unexplained weight loss, and fever.)

It was then time to find a GREAT oncologist. You are trusting this doctor with your life and you want to love him/her. Luckily I have a friend that is an oncology nurse that hooked me up with a brilliant doctor and got me in quickly.  Thanks JEN!

I LOVE my doctor and team. Trust me, it’s a team of people that come a knockin’ when you get the big C word.   I gladly open the door to their knowledge. I quickly enrolled in my own schooling of HL 101: crash course ! I read more on HL and the lymphatic system than I want to admit.  I studied the drugs, the risks and the statistics.  I prayed. And prayed some more. In the end I had to do what I felt is the best choice in my current situation.

Prior to treatment I had more testing! My lungs and heart were both tested.  Both came back good. Praise the Lord for that.

Many of you have asked my treatment regimen so I will list it here.

ABVD

I will do 12 treatments over a 6 month period if all goes well.  After my first 4 treatments I will have a PET scan and see if the chemo is working. If it is, they will remove the Bleomycin for the remainder of the treatment.  It can cause lung issues so it’s best to not take more than you need. All these drugs come with risks. Every drug a person takes comes with a risk.  The risks are scary. Very scary.  But so is the thought of my cancer spreading if I don’t take action.

Chemo #1 started September 13th.



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