This is my first blog post ever and I'm only doing it because JaNae made me promise that I would post to her blog while she is in surgery. So being true to my word... I'm blogging about my wife and the cancer in her tail.
As I write this, she was just wheeled away into the OR. The last words to me were something like "Kiss this rectum goodbye." Hopefully in 3-4 hours we'll be able to see her and everything will have gone well.
I guess this is where I need to give a little history about her cancer... just to give kind of an update to explain what has happened so far. She started feeling like her bowels were changing and she was concerned something was wrong. She was talking with friends and family who have celiac disease and suggested that she may also have it. She considered going onto a gluten free diet to see how that would make her feel but I was kind of opposed to it. I realize some may be offended, but I've been trying to buy extra gluten and put it in a salt shaker so I can add it to my food. She needed to find a new physician here since we moved so I suggested that she find one and be tested. Her tests were negative and she was relieved... but it left us with questions. What was causing her symptoms?
She had told me before that she occasionally had a little bleeding but didn't think much of it. She said it was similar to when she was pregnant and had a small hemorrhoid. (Sorry JaNae to tell your secret... but we are all saying goodbye to your rectum after all!) Anyway, we were not really worried about it... and then one day she asked me to look in the toilet, and we decided she needed a colonoscopy. It took a few weeks to get the appointment, do more testing, and then finally have the colonoscopy. As we left to take her to the appointment, our 12 year old said "Mom, just don't have cancer. OK?"
We were so surprised when the gastroenterologist told us she found a mass. It was about 5cm in size and located at the junction of the colon and rectum. The next day the biopsy confirmed the diagnosis, invasive adenocarcinoma. She had a CT scan the next morning and they could not see any spread of cancer to her liver or anywhere.
We were shell shocked for a few days. At first, JaNae felt she didn't want to tell anyone. She told me she didn't want any attention or for people to feel sorry for her. The very next day, she changed her mind. "I don't care who knows." she said, "I've done nothing wrong and have nothing to be ashamed of." JaNae has never smoked. The only time she ever drank alcohol was when we were on a cruise and ordered a virgin drink and it tasted " a little funny". Luckily the lady next to us who described herself as a recovering alcoholic had offered to test the drink. Her analysis was that is contained a hefty amount of rum... definitely not virgin! JaNae has been a pretty good gal.
Once we started letting people know, we received all kinds of support. Our daughter made blue friendship bracelets to show support. All of the kids are doing extra chores to help more. We have had dinners brought in, people watching our kids, hugs, prayers, fasting, and a lot of love. Our friend Stacy drove to Boise and back just to see JaNae for an hour... that is about 7 hours of driving just to visit. She had two of her sons with her and I was so impressed at her example of service. This is something that they will remember all of their lives, driving across the state to be supportive of a friend who is scared and anxious. She had other friends who brought over what I think was a hat box full of treats and goodies that were all yellow. They gave a cute note about providing sunshine to an area where "the sun don't shine." We have had home made pizza that was awesome, delicious soup, and other good food. Some close friends, the Wilks, brought over about 5 home made dinners that were frozen and ready to bake... those are for after the surgery and I'm so thankful that we don't have to worry about what we'll eat. Thank you so much to everyone who has served us... you have been a blessing in our lives.
So on with the story... she's been in the OR for about 45 minutes now...
We found out she had a family history of Lynch Syndrome which is a genetic defect of some DNA repair genes. Her great uncle had colon cancer and his daughter died of colon cancer at age 35... JaNae needed to be tested for these defects. We were able to get the results of the genetic tests done on her extended family so her tests could be more focused... we waited for weeks to get the results and they were normal. Yeah!
About 2 weeks ago, she had an ultrasound (up the tailpipe) to look for local spread or lymph nodes involved... and none were seen. That was very uncomfortable for her and as they filled a internal balloon with saline, she would squeeze my hand very tightly. My hand is still sore! (I'm sure glad it was my hand and not something else... like my throat.)
So this week we have been preparing for surgery... it has been hard on us a bit. I woke up to the sound of the sewing machine yesterday and she told me she'd been sewing since 4am. She's been making a quilt for our daughter. She once told me that sewing is her drug of choice. I'm glad she has something that relaxes her. She has had a good sense of humor and has made several jokes. She said "If I have to have cancer it might as well be colorectal... at least I'll still have a good rack!" She teases those who ask her about it by saying "you just want to know about my stool don't you?" Her mother is not sure where JaNae got her sense of humor but I can say that we have all laughed very hard at times. Her sister said that laughing while having tears in her eyes is her favorite thing and we all do that around JaNae a lot lately.
She's now been in there for about 75 minutes. This waiting room is very busy and there is a screen telling where every patient is located and what's going on. It's like being in an airport... they told us to expect 5-7 days in the hospital... she told me she's going to bust out in 3! ...maybe they'll have to use restraints.
I hope this was acceptable for my first blog post ever. I hope you will post a brief note so we know you dropped by. Thanks for the support and love. I'll be updating this before turning it over to her. I'm sure she'll want to tell you her cancer tale.