Rerouting

You know how when you miss a turn that your Tom Tom or Garmin tells you to take, the device, after giving up on you, says it’s “re-routing?” That’s  me now. My October was beautifully laid out with a race for the Ullman Foundation in Maryland, a trip to watch friends race Kona, my Livestrong weekend in Austin, and an Ironman relay for PPD and clinical trials in Wilmington. All (except for Austin) are on the proverbial chopping block now, as I go in to the next phase of Cancer II. They say the best way to make God laugh is to make plans. I’ll try to salvage what I can.

I have a lot more information about what’s  happenened and what’s coming up. I had what’s called a Thymic Carcinoma. It’s a rare, fast-growing cancer of the Thymus gland, which sits right behind the breast bone. Usually, it’s not diagnosed until it’s already spread to the lungs, heart, or other places, because it can be fairly symptomless. I was blessed, as my oncologist said, that I get regular MRI’s.  My outlook would have been much worse if this had been discovered months from now.

The  surgeon was able to achieve clean margins around the tumor; that means no cancer cells between the tumor and the surgical cut (or beyond, hopefully). Also, there was no lymph node involvement. That is huge as well. It means the cancer, even though it seems big (8cm) was found early.

I feel pretty good. I’m still a little short of breath, which I suppose  makes sense, since Dr. Boyer collapsed a lung to get to the mass. I’m interested to see how I feel at elevation, in Park City.. And I have these weird stabbing pains on the surgery side, as the numbness from the nerves wears off. That’s a good thing, though . It means I’ll get feeling back. I never did get all the feeling back after my first cancer surgery 12 years ago. That was one of the hardest changes to get used to, actually. I’m also not supposed to pick up heavy things. But what’s heavy? Is Toonsis the cat heavy? I carried her around with no ill effects. The ever-evolving Brave New World.

Next on the agenda: I get treatment orders from my Orlando team for my Huntsman Cancer Institute team tomorrow. I’m anticipating about five weeks of radiation, which will bring fatigue. I’ll take it. I had been secretly and not so secretly dreading the possibility of chemotherapy again. I did worse than most with chemo. Those were dark days that I wouldn’t mind never repeating. Like Kelly, who was there every step of Cancer I, said yesterday, “This time seems easy.” And he is so right, so far.

So, what’s in my head and my heart right about now? I am a little dumbfounded that I could get a brand new cancer, 12 years later…. And a rare one at that. My oncologist says it’s not that unusual. Something inside me triggers the cancer. It makes me realize the beast could well raise its head again ( and I’ll have to chop it off again). I’m so thankful I have the ability to go back to my team in Orlando and get this taken care of quickly and effectively with my amazing support network of friends that rallied after a dozen years of lying dormant. I had another graphic lesson in the importance of taking control of your health by getting the screenings you’re supposed to get and not becoming complacent.

So here I go again, off into uncharted territory. Radiation is new for me. My beautiful fall has become a work in progress. But looking further ahead, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with Livestrong for the Survivor Summit is still very much on the agenda. It will mean more than ever now that I’ll be a two-time survivor. Maybe I should climb it twice. :) Live fearlessly.

 

Comments

  1. Nadine says

    Wendy…..You are one of the strongest ladies I know. You will kick this. You were a speaker at an event I had for Breast Cancer Awareness for Longaberger. You shared your story and touched the lives of many. My prayers are with you during your battle. You go girl !!!!!!!!!

  2. says

    Wendy, Please consider adopting a whole food, plant-based diet in addition to whatever your physicians advise. Watch Dr. William Li’s TED talk on Starving cancer with food. It is some exciting stuff! I’ll be praying for you.

  3. Reggie says

    Wendy,
    As a cancer survivor I share your pain. The two important things are stay positive and you have a huge support team. Don’t let the cancer beat you. You beat it. I’m sorry, to hear the distressing news. I’m
    Praying for you and love ya. Great to see u.

  4. Chris and Joe Romanecs, Titusville says

    Be strong–you’ll beat this again. We miss seeing you on air and send good karma your way…

  5. Leslie Schmidt says

    Wendy, Thirteen years ago this past Aug. I was diagnosed with Cancer of the Thymus Gland. (Thymus Carsanoma) Stage 2. It had spread to the fatty tissues. This is the rarest of all Thymuc Cancers. When it was found it was the size of an egg. My surgery was done at Columbia Prespertarian Hospital in New York.

    I went through thirty radiation treatments along with Chemo.(for the rest of my body). Because it was so rare at that time my prognosis was unknown. I want you to know that I am fine today.

    I don’t expect a response, however, if you are so inclined, I would love to hear from you;

    Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone with this rare type of cancer and that you are and will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. Lois Smith says

    Hi Wendy, this is Rachel Hansen’s mom. Just want to send my wishes for your restored good health and successful climb of Mt Kilimanjaro. If there is anything I can do for you in Orlando, please know I am here for you.
    Lois

    • Wendy Chioji says

      Hi Lois! Thanks for the note. Not sure when i’ll be back in Orlando but guessing it’ll be sooner rather than later!

  7. Leslie Schmidt says

    Sorry I wrote this before I read your blog. I was also 5cm. suffered for 4 months before it was found. The radiation was not too bad. Although I did not loose my hair from the chemo, I was tired. The chemo was given to keep it out of the rest of my body since it had spread some. Even though I still worry from time to time, life is good. We are living in The Villages and I feel very grateful for everything.

    Again my thought are with you.

    Leslie Schmidt

  8. Mary Dzuro says

    Dear Wendy,

    I am so sorry to hear of your new cancer battle. I will say prayers for you. But, we all know what a warrior you are and this battle will be won. May this round go easy on you, and you are back doing what you love in no time.

    Blessings to you,
    Mary

  9. Shirley says

    So sorry to hear of the recent news but am very happy to hear the good outcome. Have been watching you since before the breast cancer and have always thought you were strong and brave for being so out there with it.
    I have just recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Just going into surgery on the 20th so do not know yet of the extent of nodes, etc….
    Could you share with us the treatment(s) you went thru’ originally?

    Thank you so much for sharing and we all think the world of you,
    Take care, Shirley

    • Wendy Chioji says

      Shirley, check out my Cancer Diaries page. It’s a week-by-week journal of my breast cancer experience. But just for Cliff notes purposes, I had a modified radical mastectomy with reconstruction, Adriamycin-Cytoxin (!) for 4 rounds, then a clinical trial with Taxotere for 12 weeks, followed by 5 years of Tamoxifen! Best to you

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