My diagnosis of Lhermitte-duclos Disease and then Cowden Syndrome disrupted my life so completely that even 7 years later I am still reeling. Trying to find my balance and inner strength.
I am so very thankful to have gotten through these last few months relatively unscathed. 🙂 The EGD and colonoscopy was rough, but completed. And then breast MRI was “easier” than I remembered! The only negative thing I immediately noticed is my shoulders were very sore (you lay on your stomach with your arms stretched overhead). Awkward doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Also, I haven’t received a telephone call from my oncologist. I breathe a huge sigh of relief from that as I know from experience I would have gotten an immediate call had there been an issue or concern.
Today I have errands to run, appointments to complete, and blood to be drawn from my arm. I best get going and I hope you all have a great day today!
There are about 18 different directions I could take this prompt. However, since this is a Rare Disease Awareness and Advocacy blog, why don’t I write about how my life suddenly changed on July 18, 2011?
If we go back to the beginning, see this post about what led me here. (Boy, I just took a few minutes and re-read those posts from the
early dark days. My anxiety is full-bore right now…I am so thankful that time of my life is over.)
Sometimes I wish I only had the brain tumors, and not Cowden Syndrome also. It seems like my energy could be put to better use if I was focusing on healing and recovering from just one condition, not two. HAHA.
Yet, life doesn’t roll like that for me. I do have this thing called Cowden Syndrome and sometimes it’s a beast to carry. This month I have a lot of medical procedures and I am already nervous about them. I have tried to focus my energy on other things (reading, volunteering, etc.) but I know I will be slapped upside the head come next week. I feel this need at times to “be prepared” but some days I want to put my head in the sand and not come back to reality for like 2 months.
Next week I have the colonoscopy and EGD scheduled; really really really really not looking forward to that again. I tell the doctors every time that I need to be sedated before going in. Not one doctor has listened to me and I have such huge PTSD for anything related to surgery/procedures that I have a full blown anxiety attack right before I go under. And that sucks eggs. Bad. I pray this time is different because I met the doctor at my pre-op who will be the one doing the procedure, and I begged him for something before going in. He got it! Please keep your fingers crossed that it will be smooth sailing. 🙂
I am not even going to discuss the EGD right now. Denial is a wondrous thing at times.
The last week of March I have the breast MRI. I don’t want to write about that either as I want to enjoy a bit longer my trip on the River Denial.
My hope is that if I can reach just one person who might say to themselves, “What’s a Rare Disease? What’s Cowden Syndrome? What’s Lhermitte-duclos Disease?” then all I’ve endured so far will be worth it. I wish someone (friend or medical personnel) would have told me in 2011 that I am not alone, and that I will be OK.
I’ve read different blogs for about 30 minutes this Saturday morning. Trying to understand what I am feeling, or at least distract myself from what I am feeling.
Some mornings I awake and think to myself, “I should write today. There’s so much anxiety coursing through my veins, I need to get it out. I need to cry, scream, rant, process it all here. I am actually quite nervous about my breast MRI next month. I wonder if this will be the day I get the news? Will I hear the “C” word that day?
Then I have my consult for my colonoscopy and EGD this month. My esophagus hasn’t been very friendly these last few years and I wonder how my throat looks now? I also just found out that I am now going to have to pay every time I see my doctors, and believe me, there are many that I see. So, I don’t work with any regularity and was denied disability, so how in the world can I afford to pay the doctors every time I see them? OH, I CANNOT PAY THEM. That’s right.
And, even though I can work on-call some days, when I am feeling well enough, I still cannot avoid bankruptcy. And, I had 2 job interviews these past 2 weeks and didn’t get either job! What gives? Why can’t I catch a break? My life sucks and I cannot get my head above water. I feel like I am drowning, literally. I don’t insist on much. Really. And now, I don’t hope too much either. I’m tired of the stress. When will it end?
Whoa. As I just wrote that I felt a lightning bolt – that’ll happen when I’m dead.”
Since getting diagnosed with 2 rare brain tumors and a Rare Disease called Cowden Syndrome, I’m not a huge fan of medical/doctor type things: I have my next breast MRI coming up, along with my follow-up colonoscopy and EGD. I always tend to wonder, “Is today the day I get diagnosed with cancer?”
I think it’s some type of PTSD from the brain surgeries, and while I know I am not having brain surgery today, it’s still a painful pill for me to swallow most other days. My life now will never not have any medical/doctor type things in it.
I must remember to B R E A T H E through the anxiety….
Today was my oncology appointment. Gah.
I had a few months of “quiet” but that’s now over. The breast MRI, colonoscopy, and EGD are next up to bat.
I’ve come this far, but man I’ll tell ya…it’s so much. I’ve always battled generalized anxiety, but when things come at me fast like this, my anxiety is running full speed at 150%.
Praying for sleep tonight.
I’m having surgery tomorrow.
You know, I swore that after my last surgery (the hysterectomy) that I would NEVER have another surgery. Never ever.
And, yet here we are.
For the record, thankfully it’s not on my brain or my breasts.
It’s time to say goodbye to my gallbladder.
Catch you on the flip side friends!
“What brings you in today? I know we just saw you in March.”
W E L P …
I met a very nice hospital employee this morning. I am finding more often I am getting nice ones, which is a huge deal! When you have to interact with a sucky medical employee it’s such a freaking drag!
As I was in the exam room, I began my story:
- PTEN mutation
- Breast Cancer risk
- Similar to BRCA mutation
- Brain tumors
And the list goes on. I kind of have my “go-to” story when I meet new medical professionals. She was friendly, and I could tell she has been around the block (but I don’t mean that at all in a negative way). She says to me, “I have been around over 20 years and I’ve never heard of PTEN mutation.”
GAH THIS IS SO WRONG PEOPLE!
She was nice to let me rant a few minutes about how irritated I am that “everyone” seems to know of BRCA mutation, but no one does of PTEN and it’s JUST AS SERIOUS AS BRCA! (I would like to add here though that any medical condition that causes a woman to be at high-risk for breast cancer is serious, whether it is a 10% lifetime chance or 88% lifetime chance. But, anyway…)
I made it through the appointment with flying colors (haha) and then got dressed and went along my way. As I was going to my car our entire conversation really struck me: How
thankful lucky I am to have been diagnosed as quickly as I was. Can you imagine if I had Cowden Syndrome and yet didn’t know about it yet? Regardless of zero family history of cancer. What about all these women who are getting tested for BRCA mutation and yet PTEN mutation is conveniently being left off? I really feel that Cowden Syndrome really isn’t as rare as the numbers say, and that is paralyzing for those who have it yet either aren’t diagnosed with it, or are diagnosed later than they should be, or have had multiple cancers (breast, thyroid for example) and that is not coming up on anyone’s radar?
Gosh, I could go on and on about this of course. My hope and prayer that at least one person will be educated about PTEN mutations via either my story, or another’s who has found their voice to shout! (NOTE: the employee did say, “Thank you for educating me about that” which was really nice. Those types of conversations really give me strength to keep writing, because validation.)
PS: Please visit my link and consider supporting if you can. Every bit helps! ❤ Thank you. Let’s all bring awareness for PTEN mutations.
…to say, “I’m tired. It’s hard. I am scared. I am alone. I am struggling” because, let’s face it. That’s pretty much the entire theme of this blog and I have pretty much got that covered. If it can be said, I probably have already.
But part of the reason I continue this blog is so that if anyone happens to find it who’s tired, scared, or lonely too, will know they aren’t alone.
Here’s some things going on here as of late:
- Our refrigerator broke. We have been living out of a cooler for dayzzzzzzzzzz.
- I’m dealing with daily migraine headaches
- I was rear-ended last week while I was in my car, parked. Thankfully there wasn’t any damage to my car and I am feeling better now
- The unstable man at the doctor last week is still on my mind. That incident changed me.
- My passenger side car door was dinged by an older man. When I got out of my car to check if there was any damage, he started to verbally assault me in the shopping center parking lot. Thankfully there were several people around who saw the incident and I thankfully had my cell phone in hand. When I started to take his picture he quickly de-escalated.
- I haven’t done my taxes yet
- My car needs some desperate work to it
- I had my mammogram yesterday. Those days are always heavy on my heart. 85% lifetime risk of breast cancer never gets any less scary.
- Out of the 2 pairs of jeans I own, one of them is coming unraveled. It’s quite funny. No, not funny – sad.
I can go on. But, I won’t. That’s enough for me. For today and hopefully tomorrow.
I have tried to do these things in the past, but since I’m not a writer I don’t do them all that often. I wish I was a writer, and could write eloquently and express the things in my heart. I usually just mush everything and end up writing the way I speak. #fail
Anyway, I saw the prompt for today and it resonated with me. Time to pick it up and be the Blogger I only dream about! 🙂
For years after diagnosis, I resisted everything. I don’t have brain tumors. I don’t have a rare hereditary cancer syndrome. I don’t have to go to the doctor all the time. I’m not high-risk for breast cancer. These brain tumors will not grow. Resist. Resist. Resist.
Only today, almost 6 years after diagnosis, am I starting to get a glimpse of acceptance. Resistance is futile. Especially when you have a sketchy medical status. I can no longer resist what is.
I have 2 brain tumors. I have Cowden Syndrome. Resisting the reality of that is a recipe for disaster. My life has been a disaster and continues so.
Today, I tell you I will try harder. I will do better. I will stop resisting.
One of the bad things about Cowden Syndrome is that if you see something odd on your body, it’s a struggle to keep your mind from going to the bad place.
And by you – I mean me.
I have an 85% lifetime chance of getting breast cancer. I really hate those odds.
- In the shower just now, I found something on my breast I’ve never noticed before.
- I keep telling myself, “It’s just dry skin. It’s ringworm (ew). It’s nothing.”
- Don’t overreact. Don’t cry wolf. Let it go. See how it is tomorrow.
- But what if it IS something? I can’t ignore odd things popping up on me. That’s the epitome of PTEN mutation. Lumps & bumps.
I hate to seem like I’m crying wolf though. And, what if I can’t see clearly through my own eyes?