I was going to make this one post, but after writing everything out, I figured it would be best to split this in two: the diagnosis and the consults
Pregnancy does weird things to your body. You can sleep through a whole weekend and still feel exhausted, love chicken one day then abhor it the next, eat nothing but sugary carbs and still lose weight, etc. One thing I noticed that was strange was my discharge. It was sort of a milky/oily texture and had a distinct smell. After speaking to a friend who’s had two kids, I thought it was normal and I just needed probiotics.
Remember how I said I had morning sickness four weeks into the pregnancy? Two weeks later the morning sickness suddenly went away. I thought the worst and called my OB office. My second appointment was two weeks away, but I knew I couldn’t wait that long to find out if something was wrong. My doctor wasn’t available to see me, but the doctor all my friend’s had used, and who was no longer taking new patients when I called, had an appointment time for that morning.
Dan and I went in, scared and nervous for what she would find. They did an ultrasound and we were able to see the baby, and see a heartbeat. Everything was fine. I mentioned my discharge though, and she swabbed me for tests. She also said she would take me on as a regular patient. Victory! The next day she called saying I tested positive for ureaplasma, a bacteria in the vagina, and I needed to go on antibiotics. This should have cleared everything up, but a couple weeks later I noticed it was back. Dr. Camden was hesitant to give me more antibiotics due to the pregnancy, so she said we would keep an eye on it.
We went to NYC, then had our third appointment a week later (technically fourth appointment counting the vital life check at week 6). The night before my appointment I went to the bathroom and saw light pink discharged. I panicked. I called my doctor’s office and spoke to the after hour nurse. She said since I felt no cramping, to just wait for my appointment the next morning.
At the appointment, we had another ultrasound and got to see the baby again. When we saw the ultrasound at week 6, the baby looked like a little sea monkey. Week 9 showed a formed baby, it was so crazy to think that I was growing a little human inside of me. This appointment at week 12 made me feel great. We had gotten over the first trimester fear of a miscarriage, and I asked Dr. Camden what the chance of a miscarriage at this point was. “Low”, she replied. Dan and I were elated.
At the end of the appointment I mentioned the pink discharge, and the doctor set me up for another speculum exam. During this exam, she found two bumps on my cervix that weren’t there the month before. She removed them and sent them out to be biopsied. She also tested me ureaplasma again.
Dan and I were nervous, but not too worried. It was probably just polyps, right? My body was just acting up with the pregnancy, I was sure. I texted a couple friends letting them know I was pregnant, using emojis, because I’m a #millenial like that (am I really though?). It was so great being able to tell friends. I also put the preface of the bumps on my cervix, but didn’t think about it too much.
It was President’s Day weekend, and after 7 weeks of feeling nauseous, I finally felt normal. I started the weekend off with a small cold, then went into baking mode and even made dinner. Dan had done such a great job of taking care of me during the first trimester, making breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. He went to the store every time I needed juice to mix with water, carb cravings, and vitamins. He was and still is, a saint.
Tuesday morning before work started, I got a call from my doctor’s office asking me to come in for another biopsy. The biopsy had come positive for endocervical adenocarcinoma in situ, or pre-cancerous cells. Dan and I headed to down to the office where Dr. Camden performed a colposcopy. She numbed me, so I wasn’t in any pain, but I was scared. Shocked was more like it. I couldn’t believe it. This couldn’t be happening. Again I asked about the chance of miscarriage. My doctor didn’t sound so confident now.
The new biopsy was sent to Missoula (where my previous biopsy had been sent) and she said she would call me as soon as she found out results. She said Thursday afternoon.
Imagine my surprise early Wednesday afternoon when I got a call from the Dr. Camden asking Dan and I to come in. We showed up, and she started talking. I don’t remember what she said, but she never used the word “cancer”. The biopsy had come back positive for adenocarcinoma in the cervix.
“Wait. Are you telling me I have cancer?”
Dan and I both started crying. I remember sitting on the exam bed and texting my best friend: “I have cancer.”
“What does this mean for the baby?”
“The baby should be ok.”
Dr. Camden gave me the name of the gyn oncologist in Montana (yes, the entire state of Montana has FOUR gyn oncologists in one office). He is based out of Billings though, 6 hours away from us, but comes to Missoula twice a month to see patients. Dan asked about going to get checked out somewhere else, MD Anderson, LA, etc. Our doctor said she would work with anyone we chose to go with, but they would contact the Billings gyn oncologist and make an appointment as back up.
Dan and I left the office in tears and on the phone with our parents. My mom cried when I told her. Dan called his mom immediately and they started calling hospitals for appointments. I called my friend in tears. She and her husband were coming out that weekend and I said I didn’t know what was going on anymore. She said anything I wanted they would do. I called my obgyn resident friend, she was shocked. She didn’t think there was any way cancer could have happened. I called my boss crying. I remember she was in the car with her daughter, and told me she’d take care of anything that needed to be done with work and to take the afternoon off, but I told her I’d finish one project. I just needed something to do instead of sitting on the couch.
I was in shock. Dan had driven separately, and I sat in his car just staring at the office in front of us. Someone we know walked by our car and waved at us, we both waved back in silence.
We went home and I finished work. Dan was still on his mission to get me an appointment somewhere. He called a doctor at Harvard, and was also given the number of a gyn oncologist at the University of Colorado who is friends with his boss. His mom was trying to get me in at MD Anderson in Houston, but they don’t take pregnant women. His stepmom said she would try and find a contact at Stanford or somewhere in the Bay Area.
We went to a brewery that night. We went running with our run club, then sat around eating pizza and Dan drank beer. A lot of beer. I told my friends. There were more tears and shock. I didn’t know what was going to happen.
I will post part 2 of this story shortly, detailing both of my appointments at UW and MD Anderson.