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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How Did You First Notice It?

This is probably the most commonly asked questioned I get regarding my cancer. As soon as someone finds out I had it they want to know what I noticed to make me suspect I had it. There is the typical list of symptoms for Hodgkin's Disease but I am here to tell you, I didn't have many of those. Let's give MY list:

1. Pressure in my throat. First thing I noticed and ironically I remember the very FIRST time I felt it. I felt this weird pressure in my chest, not a pain. It moved up toward the bottom of my neck. I distinctly remember it. I was driving and I thought, this is a weird sensation. Maybe I have cancer. Then I laughed it off, because it was utterly ridiculous.

2. More pressure in my neck. I felt like someone had their thumbs jammed onto both sides of my neck 24/7. This was the worst symptom for me. I hated it. I felt like I wanted to cough up a tennis ball. Just get it OUT. This was terrible. I complained a lot. I had thyroid sonograms every 3 months because they blamed my thyroid. I do have thyroid nodules. 4 to be exact. The biggest one you can slightly see. Yeah...I know. I hate it. Along with these I got some rashes on my eyelids, supposedly eczema, swelling eyelids in the mornings too.

3. I started wheezing a little bit, or crackling when I breathed. My hubby would tickle me down on the floor and I would start wheezing like I had a dust allergy or something. I would cough and my throat would feel itchy.

4. Whenever my hubby hugged me or if I leaned against something with my chest area it would trigger me to cough, sometimes a lot.

5. Eventually the wheezing got worse and I had shortness of breath. I saw an Ear, Nose and Throat doc who put me on Singular and Allegra and it actually helped me to breath at night.

6. The wheezing and breathing got much worse around the time we were moving and it would be around the time I got pregnant too. The symptoms were awful but I dealt with them before. By this time I was pale, weak and tired. I had a hard time walking up and down the stairs. It was awful packing and trying to move. Sweeping and vacuuming, I felt so lazy. I felt like I couldn't do anything. My sister helped me and I was wondering how she had so much energy. It gets depleted at such a slow rate that you get used to it. You don't realize how much different it is.

7. I coughed up flecks of blood in my phlegm. I really KNEW something was terribly wrong. Kept telling myself I had a chest infection or it was from coughing so hard.

8. Had to sleep sitting upright. Not 2 pillows, not 3, but 5. I had to or I could NOT breathe at all. I would choke and gasp wheezing all night. I had no faith in the docs anymore. My symptoms started in 2004 and this was 2007. All I heard was "Your thyroid isn't big enough to be causing these symptoms, come back in 3 months. Or you have allergies...or it might be asthma. I even had a CT of my sinuses for crying out loud. I had thyroid tests, scans and swallowed a camera TWICE and two thyroid biopsies which involve fine long needles in your neck. Not fun.

9. I did get a low grade fever ONE time but that was shortly before diagnosis. I also got to the point where I could not lift my arms to even put my hair up because it choked me and literally cut off my circulation. My face turned red, my veins bulged out and just felt like someone was choking me.

I keep thinking of more.....they keep coming to me....but you get the idea here. It was bad.

Finally I got an MRI. I did this 2 weeks after I knew I was pregnant. Within a day or two they told me I needed to see the oncologist and the next day I was having major biopsy surgery. That was May 4 2007. I had my first chemo May 22, 2007. (Those weeks were the longest of my life. I felt like I was dying and I was. The docs didn't expect me to last 3 weeks.) Never could understand how they could tell me "You can't wait for chemo until your second trimester. You won't last 3 weeks." Then I still wait about 2 from the time they said that. Hmmm I knew I had cancer at 7 weeks....and my first chemo I was 10 weeks along. So do the math. My last chemo was October 23 2007. I had my baby girl on November 17th 2007. My first radiation was Dec 3, 2007. My last was sometime in January. I actually forget ONE date! haha Then my clear scan was February 8th, 2008. I am just 2 years in remission.

Some people are planning exotic or fun trips for their spring break. I just scheduled my oncology follow up for spring break. That way I don't miss class. It's technically overdue. I have to fit these into my schedule but it's so hard yet very important! It's going to be odd being the patient again after practicing as the nurse these past couple of months. I need pics for you guys in my lab coat!! haha

I am praying for a good follow up and appreciate your prayers for the same.

On a sad side note, Gabbi has started throwing up. Definitely nothing to do with the milk allergy this time. My baby girl has a tummy ache. :(

EDIT* Just noticed that one of the ads on my sidebar for Spott says "free video" and it's a half naked chick. Ummmmm whoa. I didn't think ads like that came through Spott? I don't approve those...they rotate on their own.


MaryAnne said...

thanks for sharing this. Will be praying for your follow up to go well, and hope Gabbi feels better soon!

Anastasia said...

Hey Sandi GREAT luck on your followup scans and I hope your baby feels better. It is pretty crazy that you had all of those symptoms, and many of them for so long and the docs were not on it. I can relate. I can also relate to the feeling of just getting used to things feeling weird. We humans we just adapt. But it is bizarre when we are adapting to things that aren't the norm. And end up being something like cancer. Just crazy! Well I will be thinking of you and praying for you as you do your PET this year. I am getting a followup CT next week as you, I scheduled like three doc appointments during my Spring break. Good luck with school too! Sounds like you are doing great things. <3 Anastasia

Promotional Printing said...

I really wish that you'll get well soon. Good Luck on everything that you do Sandi! You serve as an inspiration to all women. Thank you for sharing the experiences you have before you knew that it's cancer.

Mom To The Power Of Three said...

What an amazing story. I couldn't imagine going through that while being pregnant. So glad that your daughter was born healthy and that you are in remission. You are definitely a surivivor. Hope your daughter feels better soon.