Thursday, May 31, 2012

Genetics Testing

After the inconclusive results from the 1st endoscopy. We scheduled a 2nd endoscopy but the soonest that they could do it was May 15th. I decided that I needed to do more. I contacted the oncology clinic to get mom going on the genetics testing portion. I had already formed a relationship with their genetics counselor and one of their top oncologists (Dr. A) from when I got my genetics testing done a year ago. They were quite familiar with our family history of HDGC.  I explained the situation with my mom's symptoms and how we wanted to do the genetics testing ASAP. Within a day or so, they had gotten all the paperwork together and we went in to get the test done on May 14th.  The test itself is pretty simple...a simple blood draw and they ship it out to a lab in California. Results from genetics testing take about 4 weeks but they said they'd try to rush them due to the urgency.

We also met with Dr. A to get his take on the situation. He said he thought it was the diffuse gastric cancer. Based on that assumption, he ordered a Pet Scan and CT Scan. He didn't want to waste time while the genetics testing was in limbo.

Even though, the news was not what we expected and things began to move fast...I felt that progress was being made..finally! It made me feel good that Dr. A was taking this into his own hands and getting everything set up. He also recommended a surgeon's consult at Abbott Northwestern once we got the scan results back to see exactly what we were dealing with. I cannot say enough about Dr. A and his team. They are great people who genuinely care. They saw the seriousness of the situation and took action. I am thankful for that.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Waiting Game

It was the week of May 7th.

We were all waiting for the official biopsies to come back from the endoscopy.  We were all consumed by hitting up the internet and finding anything else this could be. We found some things which made us feel better temporarily but it always came back to the diffuse gastric cancer. We also thought to ourselves...even if it were couldn't be late stage right? Mom didn't have a lot of the "late stage" symptoms.  The one in particular that we kept questioning was the bloody stools and vomiting blood. Mom didn't have any of that. All mom had up to that point was lost of appetite, weight loss from not eating and her anemia which caused her to be fatigued just doing the simplest of things.

On May 8th, we got results from the biopsies. They were inconclusive. The GI explained that even though the samples he took were not cancerous, he cannot definitely rule out stomach cancer. He indicated that mom's stomach wall was highly suspicious and he was worried that the cancer was hiding in the lining. From what I knew from previous research, this cancer is extremely hard to detect and screen for. One can be a gene carrier and go to get an endoscopy, but never find the cancer cells because they are so hidden in the lining of the stomach. The GI recommended a 2nd endoscopy. He planned to go deeper into the stomach and get more samples. Ug....more waiting...........

Monday, May 28, 2012

Telling Mandy

It was now Sunday, May 6th.  If was a long weekend of tears and we were all still in shock. The whole weekend I felt like a zombie. I spent most of it just being close to my mom and being a shoulder to cry on.   I remember trying to force myself to eat. I couldn't stomach anything. I lost like 3-4 pounds just that weekend. We shared the news with some close family members and a couple of my closest and dearest friends. I remember thinking...I wish Mandy was here. I need Mandy to be here. She has to know what is going on. 

On Sunday, I got the ok from my mom to send Mandy a message about what we found out.  I remember do you tell your baby sister...the sister you protect and would do anything to spare them pain....that mom might have cancer. 

I wasn't sure if she'd get it right away but I sent her a brief text message.  We exchanged a few texts back and forth. She literally had 5 minutes where she had a signal and was able to get the info. I sent her.  I could tell from hundreds of miles away that she felt helpless.

May the 4th

It all began on May 4th, 2012.

I had accompanied my mom to an endoscopy at MNGI.  She was referred by her primary physician after my mom's blood results from her physical came back and it was discovered that she was anemic. Prior to this, my mom was having some digestive issues and was feeling very rundown and fatigued all the time. She was initially diagnosed with acid reflux and was put on some meds but the problem kept persisting. So, her doctor suggested that she get an endoscopy.

The procedure itself didn't take long.  They called me in when she was in recovery. I thought it was odd that the doctor came right over. This wasn't good at all. He said that my mom's stomach did not look good at all. He told us he saw that the stomach lining was exceptionally thick and he saw a possible gastric mass. He knew of the family history and suspected that it was diffuse gastric cancer. He took multiple biopsies and placed those on rush.

I could not breathe. I felt like time just froze and this wasn't really happening. I tried so hard to speak but just couldn't. I remember the doctor asking if there's anyone he should call. I told him no. I held my mom's hand. Her eyes were in pure and utter shock. I remember telling her that it will be ok and to let's wait to see what the biopsy results say. Deep down I kept saying to myself, "it has to be something else".

We drove to my home and I stayed with her all afternoon. I didn't want the biopsy results to come back and she be at home all by herself. I remember contacting Stan (my husband), and tell him to come home now and gave him a brief run down. He came home shortly after and the three of us waited just in case the phone rang with the results. I remember thinking that I had to call Mandy (my sister) but she was out of the country for a wedding and would not return for a couple more days. My mom insisted that I not tell her yet. She wanted her to enjoy the wedding.

Those were the longest few hours I've experienced. We didn't get the results until after the weekend.