Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Day I was Diagnosed with Cancer....

**This is long and I don't really expect anyone to read the whole post...I needed to put this in writing. I did this to add my journey journal**
** There is also a kind of graphic picture in this post...Just warning you :)

August 23 2010 will be a day I'll never forget......

I had surgery to take out what they thought was a cyst from my wrist on August 17.  Surgery for me went ok. I felt pretty good afterwards. But what I didn't know is what the doctor took out of my wrist was not normal...he told Nathan and my family while I was in recovery that it for sure wasn't a cyst but some sort of tumor. He showed them a picture of the tumor and one of them asked if it could be cancer. He said he didn't know. Nathan and my family kept all this from me because I just had my second surgery in a month and they didn't want to worry me.  Id already been going through enough with the ectopic pregnancy surgery I had just a month prior and the emotional sadness from the loss. So I didn't know anything. I knew they sent it off for pathology but I thought it was scar tissue from a previous cut.  This picture was taken the day I had my surgery. I look back at how naive I truly was to the situation.
Monday the 23rd of August came and it was time to go back to the doctors to have my stitches taken out. I remember laying in bed the night before and the thought crossed my mind..."what if it's cancer?"...I had known that they called it a tumor but that was it.  The thought scared me to the core so I quickly thought of something else.  The morning came Nathan helped me get ready and drove us since my whole arm was wrapped up.  We got into the room and Nathan immediately asked for the pathology results. The nurse unwrapped my arm and said she'd go check.  I sent my mom this picture of my wrist while we were waiting so she could see the damage. 
My doctor was Asian and did not speak the best English at all so he came and said to me "you're the famous one" I guess he had shown the tumor pictures to his colleagues and they all were so intrigued because they'd never seen anything like it.
He then left to call pathology because they still hadn't gotten the results back. He came back a few minutes later and I'll never forget the words that came next...he said "bad news...its cancer".  My body immediately got really hot...I felt like I was going to pass out. I looked back at Nathan and he was as white as a ghost. All I could say back to the doctor was "Ok". Nathan asked "what kind?" he said synovial sarcoma.  The doctor said he didn't know anything about it and gave us the number to an orthopedic oncologist at USC. I was numb...I couldn't talk, cry or  move.  All I wanted was to get out of that building so I could cry but I still had to get my 9 stitches taken out. The nurse came in to take them out...I think she was really nervous, she forgot to take out 3 of them (which we didn't realize until later) because she'd known what the doctor just told me. She said, "I'm sorry..I know that's not what you wanted to hear." I said "Ok" again. That's all I could muster up.  She finished taking them out...then she told me I'd have to get a cast put on because my wrist was completely restructured and I needed to protect my tendons.  So off we went to the cast room. It wasn't an easy walk...my legs felt so weak. I was still trying to hold it together.  I sat down the girl started to wrap my wrist.  Nathan called my Dad to see if he could meet us somewhere because we had to talk to him.  This was around noon and there was no way we could wait until my parents got off work. We didn't want to tell my mom anything because we didn't want her driving if she thought something was wrong.  Well she called my dad because she hadn't heard back from me. I was supposed to call her after my appointment.  He told her that he was meeting us and she told him she's be coming too. I think they both knew. Anyway back to the getting my cast put on. It was beige and I asked the girl if I could get any other color because I had to have this cast for 2 weeks and beige would get dirty so fast. She said "That's all we have...having a beige cast isn't that bad, things could be worse".  I know she didn't know that I was just told I have cancer 5 minutes ago but it felt like a punch in the stomach when she said that. All I said back was "Yeah, I know". (Nathan bought me red medical sports tape that night and wrapped it for me...such a sweetie) 
Finally we were able to leave but first we had to stop by the front desk to schedule a follow up appointment. Seriously I just wanted out of there. As soon as we got out of the building my eyes started to water and by the time we got to the car I was bawling. It felt very surreal. Like a horrible, horrible dream. We told my parents to meet us at a fast food parking lot and during the drive there God spoke to my heart and made his plan so clear to me. Our angel baby saved my life. He/She's time here on earth was so short and I'd been asking the Lord "why" and there was my answer right in front of me now. It was very comforting. He is so faithful! We pulled up to the parking lot and my parents were already there. They had worried looks on their faces. Once we parked they came over to my side of the car and asked "What's wrong? What is it?" All I could do was cry. I couldn't bring myself to say those words. My mom asked again "Ness, what is it?".  I said "Its cancer" and then we all started to cry.  We were devastated. Nathan was being so strong trying to figure out insurance issues and scheduling my appointment at USC and we were crying. Not saying a word...just hugging and crying.  I eventually told them that our baby saved my life. I know it. At this point I didn't know if the cancer had metastasized or not but I did know that God was working in my life through the recent troubles and his plan was becoming so clear.  While still in the parking lot I asked my mom to call our church to have our Pastor come pray with us. I needed the guidance,words and prayers of our Pastor. 
We finally left the parking lot and went to my Nana & Capas house. Capa was at work but Nana was there and the minute we walked through the door she knew something was terribly wrong. We told her and she was so sad and had such a hard time with it. It was so so so hard to see the pain and worry my diagnosis was causing on my loved ones because of this ugly disease called cancer and I knew it wasn't going to be or get any easier because we hadn't even told my brothers yet. We left Nana's and headed to my parents house. We told my brother, B, to meet at my parents and since he works with my Capa (Grandpa) they both came. When they got there we just hugged and cried. My other brother, J, was at school and when he got home I met him outside to tell him. We sat outside and talked and cried. I told them all not to worry that I was going to beat this and fight like they've never seen me fight before. I know that strength came from the Lord because I myself was terrified.  Pastor Mike (same one who married us) came over and prayed with us. He brought a prayer quilt and healing oil to bless me. I felt comforted.
After he left my mom got on the computer to send out a prayer request to everyone she knew. We had kept my ectopic pregnancy surgery secret between our immediate family members.  It was personal. But this wasn't going to be a secret we needed all the prayers we could get. This was going to be a battle and we needed prayer warriors.  My Aunt, Uncle & Cousin came over to just be there for us. We all went to dinner. We needed out of the house. I hadn't eaten anything all day and I still couldn't eat. I felt so nauseous. We spent the night at my parents but I don't think we slept a wink. So many thoughts were running through my head. Has it spread? How long have I had this? Will it kill me? Will I have chemo, radiation? etc.... 
That was one of the roughest days of my life. It was a truly trying day but with the support of Nathan, my family and most of all the Lord I got through that day and the 190 days since I was diagnosed with cancer. God is faithful and I know he's taking care of me. 

Jeremiah 29:11 - 
'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, ' plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' 

**If you've made it all the way to the end thank you so much for caring enough about my story to read this long post :)**


  1. Beautifully written. Such a reminder that even though it's a personal battle, it touches and hurts the ones that love you as well. You are truly blessed to be surrounded with such love. And God does work in mysterious ways. Keep strong.

  2. Vanessa - I applaud and admire your courage, strength and honesty. I remember receiving that email your Mom sent out (forwarded to me from your Dad) and just being so sad and angry. Its definitely in these obstacles that we learn the most about ourselves and our true purpose. Thank you for sharing yourself in this way. God Bless You.

  3. Wow...i'm tearing up Ness! So well written and before I couldn't imagine what you were going through, but I'm glad I got this insight into how you felt at the time. Thanks for sharing this <3 Love you cousin!