Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Biggest Secret I Ever Kept: Cancer Rears its Ugly Head

The pain in my side started two months ago. Still hurting a bit from my surgery on my right side, the pain started to radiate down to my hip. My plastic surgeon recommended I stopped doing everything: no twisting, lifting, pulling, pushing, etc. Happy to comply, after about two weeks, my muscle on my side stopped hurting enough that I could tell that the pain was not radiating down...but was starting on my side and radiating up.

The doctor's appointments started then. One and then two, in the same week. Both doctor's ordered ultrasounds, each a different type. One doctor was convinced that I had colon cancer, the next a gallstone. I got an appointment fairly quickly and had an ultrasound two weeks ago Friday. My primary care doctor called me while I was on vacation with my family in Tahoe. He had seen something on my liver in the ultra sound and I needed a CT scan. At this point, I was in quite a bit of pain. However, the excitement of vacation was a great distraction and the pain was bearable. We drove home from Tahoe on Friday and took Harrison to a soccer tournament Saturday. By Sunday morning, I was in so much pain that I could not fathom getting through the day. I took myself to the ER, where they did my CT scan, gave me something for pain and referred me to oncology.

I called in sick to work on Monday. Steve and I met with my oncologist, Dr. Sweet who confirmed with the ER doctor had told me, I had cancer in my liver. Dr. Sweet showed us five-six spots on my liver, one was as big as a golf ball, but flat. He ordered a liver biopsy for Wednesday to confirm his assumption and determine which the tumors type. He assumed it was triple negative, like my breast cancer. He assumed it was metastatic cancer. Not good news.

I conferenced with my supervisors at work throughout the week, working only on Tuesday and Thursday. We agreed that I would not disclose my cancer's return until I knew my course of treatment. I was happy not to talk about it at work. To keep this secret. I knew I had to leave my job for a while and wanted to preserve my last days of normalcy.

On Friday, I saw Dr. Sweet again. At that point, all Dr. Sweet knew was that the tumors were cancer, as confirmed by the biopsy. So, we talked about a plan for treatment on the assumption that it is the metastatic breast cancer and triple negative. The reality of the situation is that this cancer is not curable. The goal of treatment will be to slow the pace of the cancer's growth by any means possible. That being said, after discussing several options, I opted to start chemotherapy on Monday. I am starting Taxol, every week, three weeks on, one week off.

Since this has all happened so fast, I thought I would start with this option, while allowing myself time to research clinical trials, other drugs and alternative therapies. I have changed my diet considerably, cutting out refined sugars and animal fats, adding flax, lots of Vitamin C and E and increasing my intake of fruits and vegetables.

How are we doing? We are completely overwhelmed. The kids are each handling this in their own way. Maddie talks about it; Harrison does not. Steve is hanging in there. He starts teaching again tomorrow, as he is on a year-round schedule. That combined with my new battle is a lot for him to handle. However, I know that he will be the rock star that he always has been once we get into our new routine.

I am sure I am leaving out a lot of things in this entry. I am tired but now that my colleagues know what is going on, I wanted to post the gist the recent happenings. I am trying to stay positive. Trying to be normal, enjoying special moments. I will work a couple more days this week at best and then will be home to focus my energies on this fight. And I know I will need all of the energy that I can muster.


  1. I've developed the bad habit of lurking, but can't stay silent in the face of this devastating news. I'm so sorry you're forced to deal with this. I'll be thinking of you as you begin this new round of treatment tomorrow, and praying for you, your family, and your medical team. *hugs*

  2. Marsi, I constantly marvel at your grace and strength. You are an amazing soul. I'm sorry you're having to deal with this and will be thinking of you.

  3. You and Steve are so strong & you will fight this!! You are an amazing person & have a great spirit. My thoughts & prayers are with you and your family!!

  4. I followed a Twitter Retweet here so am at your blog for the first time. As Amy above says, though, I couldn't stay silent after reading this. I wish you and your family much strength and support as you travel this difficult road. And I have to say that even in the face of this devastation, you write very well. All the best.

  5. Marsi, you are an incredible woman! You know that I will be praying for you, with you and your family as you move through this next "adventure" in your life. You will move through this with the grace and strength that has taken you through all of the battles you have faced thus far. We're all pulling for you!

  6. I am truly amazed by all of the reads on this blog entry and touched by the lovely comments on my blog and on FB and Twitter. Thank you, very much!!!

  7. You are living my greatest fear: a metastasis. I'll be following closely and doing what I can to lend support. I applaud your honesty, esp with your children.

  8. Many prayers for you, Steve, and the kids. Our kids are so similar, I love to read about them, and imagine that you and I are sharing our lives that way. God's blessings to you...and now, for my truest sentiments, time to kick some cancer @$$.

  9. Oh my, Marsi!! You are an amazingly strong woman, mom and wife. We are praying for you and your family as you tackle this next battle. I hope you can find some sort of comfort in knowing how many people love you and cherish your friendship and know that each and every one of us is praying for you.

  10. Marci,
    Charmy Ann Sorem here, Evan's mother.
    You were the little Jewel of Grove Rosd.
    I remember a little girl with a smile and always ready when the car pool arrived for school---a young lady waiting for her driver's license wwith patience--a friendly recognition in the halls of Valhalla.
    My heart is aching for you and your family. Like you, they must be very rewarding people to know. The most hardy of my prayers are with you.

  11. Marsi,

    May God continue to be with you and your family!! I will continue to pray for you! A positive attitude (which you always have) is the foundation for success..

    I will talk with you soon..

    God Bless..


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