Surgery: Three Weeks Later

Three weeks after the surgery and I think my swelling is finally starting to go down. I still have a pouch over the incision, but at this point, I’m not sure if it’s swelling or just fat…. I’ll just say it’s swelling to keep myself happy.

The pain has been a bit stronger this past week, but I think that’s just the effect of the numbness wearing off. There are still a couple of numb spots, but it’s slowly going away. Dan keeps telling me that his knee was numb for the longest time due to all the nerves, and I wonder if that will happen to me. I also have 8 more Lovenox shots to give and I cannot wait for next Wednesday when I no longer have to inject myself with burning pain.

We met with the hematologist yesterday to discuss my chemo treatment. Luckily, I’m getting a very low dose of chemo so I shouldn’t have too many effects. My hair may thin (which super sucks since my hair is pretty thin anyways) and I’m going to get nauseous. I asked about any weight gain, but I’ll be put on a very low dose of steroids so I won’t feel anything from that. The doctor said that if I were just doing chemo at this dose, it wouldn’t do anything. The chemo is just there to help the radiation.

Speaking of radiation, my appointment isn’t until Friday. Radiation is driving my treatment so I don’t have a calendar yet. I am still worried about radiation causing me to go into early menopause. The hematologist told me that chemo will put my ovaries on pause, so if I do have hot flashes, it could just be chemo. It’s still a scary thought though.

Until my appointment, I’ll just be filling my time reading all the Pretty Little Liar recaps and going through old articles. I still can’t believe **** turned out to be Uber A! What? I just… Can’t. Guess it’s time to start Gossip Girl.

Until then…


Gossett Girl


Surgery: Two Weeks Later

Ok, more like two weeks and one day. I’m doing pretty ok physically. I’m off my Tylenol/Ibuprofen mix, and on/off my Docusate/Senna cocktail (for those in the know…). The pain is still there, both in my incision and inside where parts of me were cut out. I still have feeling coming back to my skin. When I put my hand on the area it tingles and feels a little dull. My skin on my stomach is getting dry though, so I’m trying to be better about nightly moisturizing. Also, I still have to give myself nightly Lovenox shots to prevent blood clotting.

FYI — Risk of a blood clot is much higher if you have cervical cancer and need a radical hysterectomy. So they make you take a shot that is more painful than all my IVF shots put together. The needle is small, but the medication is painful. The injection burns as it goes in, and the area stings for quite a few minutes after it’s done. I still have about 18 more days to go with the shots. Not that I’m counting down… I almost gave up on my shot yesterday because I couldn’t even jab it into my skin, until my best friend said to do it because she had just read about Toni Braxton having blood clots in her lung. I’m not sure if it’s just so sore because I’m still sensitive from the surgery (injection site is subcutaneous in the stomach area), or if it just sucks. Probably both.

Dan and I went for a walk yesterday and our neighbor was surprised to see me walking around already. I feel like I have the energy to get out, and a small part of me wants to get back to exercising, but I know I’m nowhere near healed. I also stopped taking the pain medication because Sunday night I had the worst stomach pains. It felt like my stomach was trying to explode or burn a hole in my body. Dan was worried I had an ulcer or some sort of reaction to the surgery. The pain finally subsided, but came back briefly Monday night. I think it might be my stomach’s way of telling me I ate too much. Sunday night I had a Seattle dog (hot dog with cream cheese, onions, sauerkraut, jalapenos, mustard) and perhaps it was just too much for my gentle stomach (ok reading the description now, I realize that maybe the Seattle dog isn’t for the faintest of hearts). Maybe at 32 I just can’t handle what I could in my 20s after a night out drinking… (No I wasn’t drinking on Sunday.)

Mentally I’m doing just ok. I was supposed to see a friend yesterday but I didn’t have the energy to meet up and chat. There’s a commercial going on right now that talks about how amazing women’s bodies are; they give birth, run marathons, etc. It makes me feel like my body isn’t amazing. Though, I have run a marathon so I guess in that case, I am pretty amazing. And my body has been through so much these past couple of months, and I’m still going strong. I’m still sad though. Seeing families and babies still makes me cry. I can’t watch Modern Family when Gloria is pregnant, and I’ve decided the Real Housewives of NYC are my favorite housewives because none of them are trying to get pregnant.

I’m sure one of these days I’ll be back to normal. But until then I’ll just wait and see if Bethenny and Ramona can be friends again and if Tom and Luann’s relationship will last…


Gossett Girl


After Dan and I got word that the cone biopsy didn’t go our way, Dr. Goff set us up with the UW IVF clinic. We made our way to University Reproductive Health and wondered why things couldn’t go our way.

When we got to the office, both of us crying, we were taken to the financial counselor’s office. She talked to us about what our insurance would and wouldn’t cover, and just listened as we cried. The MA then came and took us to an exam room. She was so kind and brought us water and me a blanket while we waited for the doctor.

Dr. Neal-Perry came in and gave us a crash-course in IVF. I don’t remember everything from that first appointment. It’s all a hazy blur, but we agreed we would start as soon as possible, which meant I was going to stay in Seattle until the process was done (which ended up being 6 weeks–also included 2 weeks dog sitting for friends). We met other nurses in the office and made another appointment for me on Tuesday, and one for Dan on Wednesday so he could get started on his part.

That night I didn’t go to Good Friday mass. I texted my friends with my news, and watched the Sounders lose to Vancouver. My best friend left to go to mass, and came back with dinner from Ivars. We went to bed early with the plan that I would stay with my best friend through the weekend, then move to another friend’s house who was close to the hospital so I could make my many trips.

Dan left Saturday morning, leaving me without a car and the only 3 outfits I had packed for the trip. I spent the weekend with my best friend, spending Easter with her family, and spending time on an emotional roller-coaster of sadness, anger, and laughing.

I wasn’t as broken as I thought I would be. After the miscarriage I shut down. I couldn’t speak to anyone but my best friend, and another close friend who lived in Omaha. I spoke to a friend in Hamilton who suffered the loss of her baby, knowing he would die after he was born. But this time, I was able to talk to my friends. I told everyone what had happened. I didn’t hide away like I did last time. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because I had IVF to occupy me, or maybe I’m just a stronger person than I thought.

I also shared our story on Facebook, and asked if anyone had experience with a gestational carrier, or if anyone was interested in being a gestational carrier. I actually got a couple replies.

My friend who I would be staying with came with me to my first appointment. She is a neurology PA and knows the UW system. It was helpful for me to go with someone in the medical field, and who knew the best ways to get my care. The nurse practitioner walked us through a slideshow of the process of IVF. Instead of joining in a group class, I was having a private lesson and going to do a “quick start”, meaning I was going to forego any of the IVF prep and just start injecting hormones. We also needed to follow certain FDA guidelines since we have use a gestation carrier.

Dan flew in Tuesday night for his appointment on Wednesday. We had paperwork to sign and Dan also needed to get his… contribution to IVF inspected. They weren’t sure whether he would need to donate once or twice, or if there were any issues. There was confusion once we got to the men’s clinic though. Paperwork wasn’t filled out correctly, and the clinic had thought we were there for the ACTUAL contribution, instead of examination. I was in the middle of a work meeting (yes, I was working in the waiting room of the men’s clinic — joys of working from home) when Dan called me and told me I needed to come back there. I pretty much hung up on my boss and walked back there. I sorted everything out by saying this wasn’t the actual contribution, it was for examination. I refused to let the visit go by without something happening. Dan did not pay hundreds of dollars to fly out for 24 hours to sign paperwork. Once I talked to the nurse, and explained it wasn’t the actual donation, he said it would be no problem to do that. There was some back and forth between my office and the men’s clinic, and me trying not to yell at anyone, but Dan was able to do his stuff.

We then went back to the IVF clinic to talk to financial counselor again since Friday was a blur to both of us. Once we started learning of the cost what things would cost since insurance doesn’t cover gestational carriers, I started to cry.

“This isn’t fair. We shouldn’t even be here,” I cried.

“No one wants to be here,” the counselor said.

“But I was pregnant a month ago,” I practically screamed. “I have no problem getting pregnant, I just have a diagnosis that won’t let me.”

The counselor looked shocked. I’m not sure if she didn’t remember us from Friday, or our circumstances, but her tone changed. I must have looked inconsolable, because they took us back and I was able to talk to the nurse manager who was so sweet and amazing. I just cried and told her how it wasn’t fair. That I shouldn’t be there. Getting pregnant wasn’t a problem, it was carrying the baby that was.

I know I sound like a brat. Many women deal with infertility, I’m not a special snowflake in that instance. I felt like a fraud being in the office. I felt like I had no reason being there, Dan and I had no problem getting pregnant. Our problem was being able to carry the baby. I didn’t think it was fair that we would have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to do something I was so sure I could do on my own. I hate cancer.

It was decided I would start my medication the following Sunday. Sunday night I began taking Letrozole, and Monday night at 6pm I got my first Gonal-F shot from my PA friend with Dan on Facetime. Wednesday, I had an appointment with the nurse practitioner where I signed more FDA paperwork, and Friday morning I had my first ultrasound appointment with my doctor to see how the meds were working. Dan had an appointment on Friday to make his first (and what would be only) contribution.

While I stayed active every night, getting in as much friend time as I could, I had to pause everything at 5:58pm and prep my skin so I could give myself my shot. One of my favorite memories of this, was when I started to take Menopur and Cetrotide and had to mix the two, my PA friend and I had to leave the bar before a Sounders game to give myself a shot. She was two beers in, and we sat in the backseat of her car in Pioneer Square (a bit of a sketchy Seattle neighborhood), and she mixed the two shots and we injected myself three times. Right after, a homeless gentleman walked up to the car and we ended up having a short conversation with him as we cleaned up the car and headed back to the bar.

One thing I learned about this process, is that I’m very fertile. Both sides of my ovaries had well over 20 follicles and most were producing eggs. Every time I went in for my ultrasounds, the doctor would count over 25 follicle sizes on each ovary. This put me at high risk for OHSS – Ovarian Hyperstimulation Symptom. AKA my ovaries were weighed down and were at high-risk of ovarian torsion. This meant no exercising, stretching, twisting, etc. I was relegated to just walking.

There was hope that they could do the egg retrieval on Tuesday, but alas, my fast growing eggs were slowing to a halt and weren’t growing those extra couple millimeters. I ended up ordering one more days worth of Cetrotide (which was annoying to deal with insurance, and then end up not needing to use it), but I was scheduled for egg retrieval on Thursday. I was so happy to not be giving myself shots anymore. It was painful and my stomach was tired of being used as a pin cushion.

Thursday morning I took a half day off of work and was picked up by a friend who drove me to the clinic. I was an hour and a half early for my appointment, but I had brought a book and settled in to read it. One of the medical assistants saw me come in,and brought me back to a room so I could read in peace and quiet. It was so kind and thoughtful.

The procedure was quick and simple. It was so different than being in the hospital though. I was the only patient, and I got a lot of extra care from the nurse, MA, and anesthesiologist (who may have also been my anesthesiologist from my hospitalization procedure in March, we were trying to figure that out). I warned them about my tendency to cry under anesthesia. I also met the embryologist, and confirmed a couple times that it was definitely Dan’s vial he was using to create embryos with my eggs.

Going under was a lot slower this time, I could feel myself slowly falling asleep when I started talking about how sad I was that this was the closest I would ever get to being pregnant again. The MA, anesthesiologist, and Dr. Neal-Perry were great though, they tried to get me to focus on vacations to South Africa as I fell asleep.

I woke up about 30 minutes later with tears rolling down my cheeks.

“I’m crying again, aren’t I?” I asked.

The nurse smiled and nodded.

“Go have fun this weekend. Go drink that glass of champagne.”

I had no clue what she talked about. And then I remembered talking to her before the surgery about wanting to go home this weekend for my friend’s wedding, but that if I couldn’t fly home, then I could stay in town for a friend’s bacherolette party who was flying in from Georgia, and who’s wedding I would be unable to attend in July. As expected, I wasn’t allowed to fly home, and instead spent an amazing weekend with friends celebrating.

Another friend picked me up and drove me back to our friend’s. Have I mentioned what amazing friends I have? There’s absolutely no way I could have gotten through any of this without them.

The egg retrieval was successful. 24 eggs were retrieved and now we have embryos waiting for us when we’re ready to begin the process. We paid and did the PGS process, hoping to find the strongest embryos to use. The doctor also knows the sex of each embryo. I want to find out, but Dan wants to wait. While I would love to choose the sex, I feel like I’ve played God enough in this process, so we’ll let the doctor decide.

IVF was not something I’d ever thought I’d need. Being quickly forced into the process though, I couldn’t have asked for a better office to go through this with. Dr. Neal-Perry and her staff were amazing. The nurses were so kind, understanding, funny, and made the process easier. The medical assistants did everything to make our appointments run smoothly, and just wanted everything for us to be easy. While I hope no one has to go through this, if you do, University Reproductive Health in Seattle is a great choice. Any question I had was answered, concern noted, and I just felt like everyone there cared about me. They understood how frustrating this was for us to go through, and they let me bitch about it non-stop. I cannot say enough positive things about this office.

Speaking of amazing people, my friends. Without my friends driving me everywhere, letting me borrow their cars, poking me with needles, being shoulders to cry on, I’d probably be in a ball crying still. I’m so lucky to be able to go through and have such an amazing support system.

And with that, I wrap up my story of Winter/Spring 2017. With the pregnancy, cancer diagnosis, hospitalizations, cone biopsy, and radical hysterectomy I’m ready for all this to end. I still have chemo and radiation to get through this summer. And I’m sure I’ll continue to look back at certain instances and write about them more, but with this, the big story has finally been told.


Gossett Girl

The Cone Biopsy

Back my story of how cervical cancer has affected my life and how I got to where I am now, we go back to April. A month after my hospitalization. When I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, multiple doctors told me that I would never have the chance to get pregnant again. My current pregnancy was the only chance we would have to be able to have a child on our own. I was supposed to have a radical hysterectomy right after the c-section I would need to deliver our baby. When we lost the baby, Dr. Goff said we could try doing a cone biopsy. Hopefully by doing this procedure, we could remove the cancer and Dan and I would have one more try to have a baby.

I was confident this would happen. The biopsy would remove the cancer, and we could try to become pregnant again in July (my timeline, who knows what it actually would have been). In my post-op appointment with Dr. Cheng, we talked about what pregnant life would be like missing a chunk of my cervix. She advised no traveling (good-bye trips to Boston and Europe in the fall), and I would be under her care at 13 weeks, which meant moving to Seattle at that point. She told us birthing horror stories of parents who went on babymoons, and then were stuck in the cities they were in until the baby was 38 weeks and could fly home. Hopefully my cervix would heal with a lot of scar tissue, meaning that there was still a slight chance that I wouldn’t need a cerclage, and could actually have a baby naturally, no c-section.

Dan and I drove out to Seattle the Sunday before the surgery. I had told my parents not to drive up for the surgery, but Dan’s mom flew out and we stayed with her at the Rainier Club. We went to an amazing seafood dinner at Anthony’s that night. Monday we had a pre-op appointment with Dr. Goff, and that night I went to Ivars for happy hour with friends were I ate as much as I could before I had to stop eating at 7pm.

My surgery was scheduled for 7am, so we arrived at the hospital at 5am. Dan hung out with me in pre-op, and we nervously waited. Dr. Goff came in and said they would be removing the lymph nodes first, and that if any of the lymph nodes looked bad or tested positive for cancer, they wouldn’t go through with the cone biopsy. Instead they would pull me out of surgery and would schedule the radical hysterectomy.

There’s always a small sense of fear when I go under. I know that my procedures are all standard, but I’m always scared of not ever waking up. In the time leading up to the cone biopsy, I texted my best friend telling her of my fear. I know it’s silly, but it’s scary. When I went in for my radical hysterectomy, I had to have blood drawn to confirm my blood type in case of a transfusion. There was a bit of drama about whether I could actually get a transfusion if need be, since I had had one within the past 3 months. I also had to mark that I was pregnant within the past 3 months.

“Was the blood transfusion needed during the birth?” the lab manager asked.

“No.” I replied with tears in my eyes and daring him to inquire further.

He didn’t ask any questions, and said it probably wouldn’t be a problem if I needed a transfusion during the hysterectomy (I didn’t).

But back to the cone biopsy. I said bye to Dan before they rolled me into surgery, and on my way to the surgery theater I prayed. Hail Mary’s, making deals with God. Begging them to let this surgery be successful. I made promises that I would go to church every Sunday. That I would never say anything bad about anyone ever again.

I remember tears rolling down my cheek as the anesthesiologist put a mask on my face. With one last prayer I closed my eyes.

I woke up a few hours with my best friend next to me. Of course I was crying. I always cry with anesthesia. The nurse was on the phone with the patient floor nurse checking to see when my room is ready.

“She’s ok. She’s just sad,” the nurse said on the phone.

Apparently I woke up in hysterics that they had gone ahead and done the radical hysterectomy. While that obviously did not happen, they did find one large, abnormal lymph node, but it had tested negative for cancer. They think it was leftover from my bout with sepsis. The tumor was much larger than they anticipated though, so surgery took longer and things in my body had to be moved around. Which meant that for about 2-3 weeks after surgery, going to the bathroom was very uncomfortable. I was scared things were never going to go back to normal, but they did. (Though now after the hysterectomy, I’m feeling the same pain and wondering if things will go back to normal ever again… again).

I was only in the hospital for one night this time. My nurses were lovely as always, and my best friend was on spring break so she hung out with me, as did Dan and his mom. I was discharged after passing the bladder test (in which they fill your bladder with saline, then seeing if you can pee out the same amount. This is the norm after spending sometime with a catheter in..). Dan had reserved us a nice hotel in the University District, so we were close to the hospital in case anything happened.

Dr. Goff stopped into see us before I left. Tumor board was Friday morning before our appointment in the early afternoon, so she would have a chance to discuss my options with other doctors. I won’t lie. She didn’t seem to happy. I know now it’s because she wasn’t confident this would work. Her demeanor between this surgery, and my radical hysterectomy were vastly different. During the cone biopsy time she was very serious and short. With the radical hysterectomy, she seemed a bit more animated and smiled more. Don’t get me wrong. Dr. Goff is a great doctor, she is amazing and smart. Very smart. Also a little intimidating, but like my resident friend said: The best doctors make their residents nervous, they always want to be do their best for these doctors.

Another fun thing that happened during my discharge — removing the vaginal packing. This gets a little TMI, so feel free to skip this paragraph. During the surgery they put a vaginal pack in to help with the bleeding. Vaginal pack is a fancy way of saying a million feet of gauze shoved up your vagina. When the resident took out the gauze, it was like a 10 hour Brazilian wax. Ok, it was probably 30 seconds of feet after feet of gauze taken out, but it was so painful. Again, imagine having a Brazilian, but inside, and instead of a swift rip off, a looooong, slow, painful procedure. If you ever have to have a vaginal pack, I recommend you ask the doctor removing it if they can moisten the gauze before it comes out.

Dan and I spent the rest of the week relaxing. I was in a lot of pain the Wednesday after I was discharged, so I stayed in the hotel and just rested and hung out with friends. That Thursday was Holy Thursday, so I went to church that night. I was painful. Midway through mass my best friend went to her car to get blankets and towels that I could sit on. After mass some friends came over and we all hung out. I wasn’t nervous about the next day’s results. It would be ok. Dan and I would have a chance to have our baby. We had planned meticulously. I would get pregnant in July, and then things would go on as normal.

We saw Dr. Goff when we were in the waiting room. She waved to us as she walked quickly back into the office. That made me nervous, but Dr. Goff was busy doctor. She probably didn’t have time to smile and chat.

Once Dan and I were back in the room, I took out a small rosary my best friend gave me and started saying Hail Marys.

“I don’t have good news.”

That was the first thing out of Dr. Goff’s mouth when she walked in.

“The tumor was twice as large as we thought, and your margins came back positive, both the cervix and one of your lymph nodes.”

Dan and I both burst into tears. Choice four letter words came out of our mouths. We would need to go through with the radical hysterectomy and chemo/radiation. I wouldn’t be able to carry our baby.

“I called the Reproductive Health office though, I can get you an appointment with Dr. Neal-Perry and you can start IVF.”

She left to call and make the appointment for us while Dan and I sat, still shocked with my prognosis. We didn’t ask many questions about our next steps with the cancer, all we cared about was trying to have our baby.

“Ok, I made an appointment for you at 3:30.”

We had about 30 minutes before the appointment. The office was across from the hotel were were staying at. My best friend was on her way down to meet with us, and I’m pretty sure I was sending her incoherent messages of what was going on, and where to find us, asking her to come to the IVF office.

Numb, Dan and I left the office and made our way to our next adventure/life obstacle, IVF.


Gossett Girl

The Surgery Results

It’s official. I’m uterus-less. And fallopian tube-less. And appendix-less. Wait, what?!?! The day after the surgery, when my favorite resident was sitting down and chatting with my mom and I, she casually mentioned taking out my appendix. Somehow my mom knew, but this was brand-new information to me.

“Wait, you took my appendix out?!”

“Yes. Dr. Goff said it had high risk of perforation, so she took it out so you wouldn’t need another surgery.”

Apparently there was some stuff on my appendix that could make it burst. Also, my appendix was super long, much longer than normal, and Dr. Goff didn’t want it to get radiated and also burst. Essentially, my appendix would have burst some day and emergency surgery is never fun. This also goes to prove that my body is just greaaaaaaaat at growing things. Babies, cancer, organs, etc.

But back to the surgery. Dr. Goff said everything went great. At least, as well as a radical hysterectomy could go for a 32 year-old who can never have a baby. All my margins came back negative and the lymph node she took was negative as well. There was still cancer in what was left of my cervix, so she was 100% confident that this surgery was the correct decision.

I’m actually doing pretty well a week-and-half later. I almost have feeling back in  my stomach. It’s the strangest feeling. I can put my hand on where it’s numb, or coming back, and I can tell something is there but I can’t feel anything. I’m sleeping pretty well now. The first week was painful, it hurt to roll over, to lay down, to lay on a certain side, but it’s better now. Not 100%, but maybe 90%. I’m probably not walking as much as I should, but I went on a walk Monday after work and made it half the block before I needed to turn around. I couldn’t even make it to the mailbox. Tomorrow we’re going to Missoula though, so wish me luck there.

It’s a little hard realizing the surgery has come and gone. I spent so much of my time fearing the hysterectomy. Losing the ability to carry a baby is heartbreaking and I never thought it would happen to me. When it finally happened though, I felt ready. Ready to close this chapter and start the next one. It showed during the anesthesia as well. I vaguely remember crying on the way to surgery, but I didn’t cry when I came out of it. To be fair, whatever anesthetic concoction they  mixed for me this time was a doozy. I felt sleepy even before Dan left pre-op, and I don’t remember coming out of it at all. I can’t remember post-op, and I sort of remember being in my room with my parents, best friend, and Dan. Dan went to Din Tai Fung with his parents and tried to feed me some fried rice, which I gagged on and demanded a popsicle. Apparently I was also demanding popsicles in post-op. I turn into a 5-year-old in the hospital.

I’ve been back at work since Monday so that has helped keep my mind off things. Even if Monday was a lot of cringing and staring at the computer screen wondering what I was doing. My mother-in-law has also offered to take us on a South American cruise in February, which is beyond amazing. I have put a ton of effort into research cruises and itineraries. It’s helped me not to focus on our journey to have a baby.

Our next step is chemo and radiation. I have an appointment on Monday, June 26 to discuss chemo, and another one Friday, June 30 for radiation treatment. This is when I learned that a) they’re different doctors, b) the universe wants me to support the oil industry by making my appointments in Missoula on two different days. I have a follow-up appointment in Seattle on July 10.

Ah Seattle. I miss Seattle, and my friends. While Montana is beautiful, I’ve learned I’m a city girl at heart and can’t wait to get back home some day.

Until then…


Gossett Girl

The Night Before

Tomorrow I go in for my radical hysterectomy. It’s been a long road to get here, and I was hoping this would happen right after giving birth to our baby (or you know, not at all). Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t really care what you want, or your plans for your future. It does whatever it wants, sort of like a drunk girl trying to fight through her friends to get back into the club to keep dancing. Not that that was me at all this past weekend, at 1am, two shots of Jameson too many… nope…

Anyways. I can’t believe we’re at this point. I cried when the plane took off from the Missoula airport, and when we landed in Seattle. Whoever thought at 32, I would be losing the ability to ever have children. I know we are lucky that we had a successful round of IVF, but it pains me to know I’ll never be able to carry our baby. Looking at pregnant women with huge tummies pulls at my heart.

I’ll be honest, I do feel like a fraud knowing that if we have kids, it wasn’t me who carried them. It doesn’t mean I feel like less of a woman, but I wonder how I can contribute to future pregnancy conversations. I can talk about being pregnant up to 16 weeks, but I never had a prominent belly. I just looked like I was packing on the winter weight. I’ll never get to join in friendly conversations about third trimester woes and giving birth.

I’m at a weird place knowing that this needs to happen. They found microscopic cells near my vagina and in a lymph node. Obviously the cancer had spread to just beyond the tumor. But I also just want to have one full pregnancy. I would like to carry our own baby, and only have to worry about my hospital bills, not that on top of paying for everything for a gestational carrier. I know if that were to happen though, the cancer will most likely continue to spread, and who knows how far it will move in the 9 months.

I realize there is no point in having a baby if I’m not around. Dan will be an amazing father, but it’s not something he wants to do on his own, especially if we can prevent it from happening. And that’s the only reason I have any semblance of calmness and acceptance. I hate being told how strong I am. I really have no choice. I’m just living. I’m not trying to be Wonder Woman. I’m just trying to stay alive.

And so now, I sign off with my uterus intact one last time. I’m going to do some sit ups and push ups, since I’ll be stuck in a hospital the next 4 days, and who knows when I’ll be able to workout again. Also, the doctor told me chemo might make me gain weight, so… Guess I should work on combatting that now.


Gossett Girl

The Hospitalization: University of Washington Medical Center

If you haven’t read Part 1 of the hospitalization already, you can here.

As soon as the decision was made to send me to the University of Washington Medical Center, my room was filled with people prepping me to fly. I had new IVs put in, an ultrasound, given Ativan to calm my nerves, blood drawn, and a catheter put in. I asked for something to eat since I hadn’t had much lunch. They brought me applesauce, crackers, and juice. I tried to eat as much as I could and asked for water for the ambulance ride. Because we had to wait for the plane, I was being sent to Missoula who had platelets and blood I could use while I waited.

During all this, I had horrible cramps and went to the bathroom. When I went, I passed a huge clot, probably the size of half my fist. I called in Dr. Camden to look at it, and she said it would be ok.

I was taken to the ambulance and I said bye to Dan who was going to meet me in Missoula, then come back to pack bags for Seattle. I was in and out of sleep on the ambulance. I was hoping the paramedics would talk to me, but they weren’t as friendly as I had hoped.

When I got to Missoula I visited by multiple OBs. They gave me two bags of platelets and one bag of red blood cells to help my body fight the infection. One of the OBs told Dan and I to expect the worst when it came to the pregnancy. We were aghast, who says that?!? Especially to someone as sick as I was and as worried as Dan was. They refused to let me eat or drink anything in the case that I needed to be taken straight into surgery at UW. They gave me more Ativan and nausea medicine. I told Dan to go home, it was almost 11pm and he needed to drive home safely, pack, and get sleep. I don’t remember much after Dan left. I slept through the transport to the Missoula airport and being put on the plane. I woke up during the flight because I was so hot and my back hurt. I wanted to roll over, but I could only roll to the left side, which put me inches from the face of one of the paramedics so I rolled back on my back. The next thing I know, I was surrounded by a bunch of doctors. I had slept through landing in Seattle and being transported by ambulance to UW.

Since I was now in septic shock, this is all I can recall. I thought I was holding my best friend’s hand when they put a PICC line in me. I have a fear of people touching my neck, and I just remember screaming and panicking. I thought they cut my neck open, and I tried to move but hands held me down yelling at me not to move.

I remember seeing my best friend through the glass window. I picked up my hand to wave to her, and she waved back. I remember waking up and she was on the couch, and my friends had come and were delivering her coffee. I remember a bunch of doctors showing up in my room that morning to visit me. I remember seeing my father-in-law sitting on a chair near the end of my bed. I know I had an ultrasound in my room, and then another in a room down the hall. I know I was harassing the ICU nurse to please let me have a real glass of water and something to eat. I still might have needed surgery so they were only giving my ice chips. So I would let the ice chips melt then take gulps of water. I know friends showed up after work, and I was very animated but I don’t remember what we talked about.

This is what happened according to my best friend. She and Dan had been up texting all night, waiting to see when my plane left and Dan watched in on FlightAware. She arrived at UW at 4am and was sent to the ICU where I was being taken. She wasn’t allowed in the room when I first arrived so she waited in the waiting room, and also watched from the changing room attached to my ICU room. The doctors did an ultrasound and other tests on me, then they let us sleep.

That morning they ran more tests on me to try and find the source of infection and check on the baby. They gave me the correct antibiotics which helped me bounce back quickly. I also had a low lying placenta which was going to make the cone biopsy impossible. Instead I was going to have to start an every 3 week chemo treatment. I also had subchorionic hematoma, which meant that I had bleeding between my placenta and uterus. This we would learn, would be the cause of my infection.

Because I recovered from sepsis quickly, I was taken to the regular oncology floor, under care of the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFA) team. They were keeping me in the hospital until they had a 5 day culture that was negative for the infection. This would hopefully mean discharge on Wednesday.

During this time my parents came and we were trying to figure out plans for staying in Seattle and doing chemo. I wanted to try and stay with friends, my mom wanted to stay with me the whole time, but we still had 6 months to go before the baby came. It was a stressful time for all of us. We argued over dumb things, but I know my parents were just worried about me, and I didn’t want them to be worried.

Sunday night I woke up to the most painful cramps. I called a nurse and asked for medicine. I couldn’t breathe and I was in tears. I held onto Dan’s hand every time a cramp came. The pain medicine finally kicked in, and that morning I passed a clot the size of my first. I was scared about what was happening to the baby. The resident OB came up and did an ultrasound and we saw our baby for what would be the last time.

Tuesday during our daily OB visit, the resident was unable to find the heartbeat. We went down to the OB clinic where we were giving an ultrasound on an old machine that couldn’t find it. And then taken to a room with an expensive machine that told us the truth. I knew it before they told me. This had been my biggest fear, and at 16 weeks we had lost our baby. The heartbeat was there on Monday, but not on Tuesday. I had lost all my amniotic fluid and our baby in the process.

I shut down completely. I refused to let anyone visit me but my best friend. I didn’t talk to anyone. My best friend told everyone and took care of everything. She brought ice cream and comfort. I was put on oxycodone which helped with the pain, physically and mentally. I had a d&c scheduled for Thursday and I was released on Friday. We flew home on Saturday with my mom.

It had been 4 weeks since I discovered I had cancer. The weeks seemed to crawl. I cannot imagine how life had been if I had stayed pregnant and going through cancer treatment. Even now, when I should be in the beginning of third trimester, I can’t imagine how stressed out and scared I would be. I know I would be scared that everything was hurting the baby. After having sepsis and given countless medications, platelet and blood transfusions, antibiotic after antibiotic, chemo, and who knows what else, I can’t imagine having a healthy baby. Dr. Cheng actually spoke with us on the Monday before the miscarriage about the high possibility of the baby being born early. 24 weeks was the earliest the baby could come out and the baby would still not be fully formed. She said our baby would never be active as the lack of development would hinder that. Who knows what other developmental issues would happen.

I had been told that this would be my only pregnancy, and that I would require a radical hysterectomy either right after my c-section delivery, or if I had had a miscarriage. The doctors changed their mind and told me they would still go through with a cone biopsy and hope that that would take care of the cancer. If the margins came back negative, then we would have a chance to have another baby naturally. I held onto this hope for the 4 weeks until the cone biopsy.

Knowing what we know now, I’m hoping that we are able to have a baby through gestational carrier and we can give that baby the world. I’ll never forget the one I carried inside of me, and I get by everyday by thinking that our baby’s soul with continue in our next one.


Gossett Girl

The Hospitalization: Marcus Daly

Do you remember in the last post I spoke about our whirlwind trips to Seattle and Houston right after finding out I had cancer? It was exhausting and I didn’t get much sleep, so I wasn’t surprised when Monday rolled around and I started feeling tired that afternoon. Dan had flown to Colorado that morning for work, so that evening when I felt an illness coming on, I made some soup and went to bed early.

I tossed and turned Monday night, waking up shaking and sweating. I pushed both our dog and cat off me because I was so hot. I woke up Tuesday morning with a 101 degree temperature. I emailed my boss letting her know I was going to try and sleep it off and texted my best friend who said I should call the doctor. I tried to sleep for another couple of hours and I woke up and took my temperature again. 103. Yikes. I emailed my boss, texted my best friend again, who both told me to call the doctor, which I did. My doctor was out, and they passed me to the nurse of the doctor who had given me my exam in August. Her nurse said to drink fluid and take Tylenol. I texted a couple of friends and asked if they would mind running by the store and picking me up Tylenol, Sprite, and apples during lunch.

The doctor’s nurse called back and said I needed to come in now.  I was so tired and my body hurt, so I asked if I could just come in tomorrow. She said it was either coming into the office now, or going to the ER. I texted the same friends and asked if one of them could drive me to the doctor because there was no way I was getting there on my own.

I put on some sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and my heavy winter coat and made my way to the doctor’s office. When I got there I tried to stay seated in the chair and not fall on the floor. Once I got the exam room I asked if I could lay on the exam chair instead of sitting on the normal chair. My temperature was down to 101, but my heart rate and the baby’s heart rate were at dangerous levels.

“I’m admitting you to the hospital right now.”

“Right now? But I don’t have anything.”

I wasn’t lying. I had my phone and my wallet and that was it. It didn’t matter. I was put in a wheelchair and sent down the hall to a hospital room. The nurse was so sweet though and bought me a Sprite out of the machine so I could sip on it.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I live in a very small town. The population is about 4,000; 6,000 in the summer when the snowbirds come back. While a lot of it is very frustrating, lack of food, shopping, culture, etc.; it’s pretty nice for when you want to go to the doctor. Or need to be admitted to a hospital immediately. No waiting for someone to be discharged and the room to be cleaned, they just had rooms available. When my friend gave birth, she was the only one in the birthing ward for days. I was looking forward to all that attention when it was my turn.

I had all the normal hospital admitting procedures done, IV, hooked up to monitors, but they also wanted to test me for a UTI. Which meant putting a mini catheter in to get what they needed. Probably one of the most painful things I’ve been through in awhile.

I went to the bathroom afterwards and saw blood. I thought the catheter had caused the blood, but it hadn’t. I thought I was having a miscarriage. The doctor wasn’t sure. I had hourly doppler checks on the baby which helped alleviate my fear.

Every few hours my chills came back. My body was shaking so violently and my teeth were chattering so hard that I was worried I was going to crack them. The chills lasted anywhere between 15-45 minutes. The nurses would bring heated blankets and warm water bottle for my feet. This would help keep me warm until the chills subsided and my fever broke.

The hospital couldn’t find out where my infection was coming from, and I was still bleeding. By this time I told Dan what was going on and that he should stay in Colorado until his flight in the morning. There was no point in paying a few hundred dollars just to have him come home right when I was going to sleep.

The first night I woke up at 2am with another case of the shakes and they called the OB doctor in. She examined me to make sure that something hadn’t been left inside me during all my recent office visits. She was going to consult the infectious disease doctor in Missoula as well. She said if they couldn’t figure it out, they might just send me to Seattle.

Wednesday and Thursday were the same as Tuesday. A couple hours of feeling ok, then the chills would come on again. There was one point I just wanted to die. I had a conversation with God and said I was ready. I’d never been in so much pain in my life. The only thing helping were visits, texts, and flowers from friends. And the bleeding still hadn’t stopped.

They had discovered I had an e.coli infection, but still didn’t know where it was coming from and why the antibiotics weren’t working. On Thursday afternoon they told me they were sending me to Seattle. They finally figured out the antibiotics they were giving me weren’t meant for my strain of e.coli and they didn’t have the correct antibiotics or means to help me. It had just snowed and a new front was coming through, so instead of a normal helicopter, they were going to send me on a fixed-wing plane coming from Great Falls.

Part 2 of the hospitalization coming soon.


Gossett Girl


The Cancer; the Consults

If you haven’t read the first part of this story you can here: the Diagnosis.

The day after the diagnosis, we were able to get an appointment at MD Anderson the following Thursday. Apparently the gyn oncologist there spoke to my MIL’s doctor and he said he would take me on (points to the MIL for not letting them pass me over). The doctor from the University of Colorado called and said we could make an appointment with him. I decided to call the University of Washington. It was my alma matter, and I have a ton of friends left in Seattle. I spoke to the kindest patient coordinator, and she said she would get me an appointment for next week. She was able to get me one Monday morning. We decided to stick to UW and MD Anderson. While we wanted every opinion available, buying last minute tickets around the country isn’t so kind to the bank account.

After a fun weekend with friends from Seattle, Dan and I woke up at 3am to head to Seattle. My friend picked us up at the airport and took us back to his house were his wife was waiting for us with breakfast and coffee. She hung out with me while Dan took a mini-nap and we waited for our appointment.

We took an Uber to UW where I met the gyn oncologist, Dr. Goff. She had a hematologist resident with her when she performed her exam. She was able to feel my tumor during the exam and said the best way to beat this would be a radicaly hysterectomy with chemo and radiation. Since I was pregnant though, that wasn’t an option and she said a cone biopsy to remove the tumor would be our best bet right now. Maybe follow it up with chemo. She also said she would reach out to the high-risk OB at UW and the resident sang Dr. Cheng’s praises. He also let me know that this chemo would make my hair fall out, but it would be worth it.

And this is where I got upset. Gone were my visions of the cute pregnant woman, instead I would be bald and whatever else the chemo would do to my body. I also couldn’t run anymore, so there went my dream of running a half marathon while pregnant. Yes, that’s right. I have wanted to run a half marathon while pregnant since I ran my first half at 24. I wanted to be the woman with the big tummy waddling her way around 13.1 miles. Being told my hair was going to fall out and I couldn’t run made me cry. I remember my friend with melanoma saying at dinner that night, “Who cares if your hair falls out if it’s going to save your life?!” And at the time I said “I do actually. I know, it’s dumb.” But now, going through what I have and knowing I’ll never be pregnant again, I would take hair falling out and bed rest in a heartbeat.

Dr. Goff said I needed an MRI, and her office miraculously got me scheduled for that afternoon because we were flying out that night. She also needed the original biopsy, which we found out… was MIA. After a few phone calls and phone tag, we spoke to someone at the lab at St. Patrick’s who said that Harvard had requested the biopsy so they sent it there. Next on the list to receive the biopsy was UC Denver.

We were angry and frustrated. We didn’t have an appointment at Harvard, they shouldn’t have asked for the biopsy. We requested that the lab ask for the biopsy back from Harvard and send straight to MD Anderson so they would have it in time for my appointment on Thursday.

Next we called insurance to make sure that the MRI would be approved. I’m not going to lie, I think it’s pretty ridiculous that you have to wait around for insurance to get an approval for a scan that could help save your life. The insurance employee said that if we told the imaging department to put a rush on our request, they would approve it within 4 hours, hopefully before our scheduled time. We told imaging and hoped for the best when we left for lunch.

Dan and I went to lunch at University Village and as we walked back to the hospital, we got in a big fight. I wanted to do treatment at UW, and I didn’t want to fly to Houston for a second opinion. I was exhausted and didn’t want to keep traveling. He wanted to know what other options were. We agreed to keep the Houston appointment since we already had tickets, but I was tired. It was raining, I was wearing suede booties and a nice coat without a hood, so I was just in a bad mood all around.

We arrived back for my MRI appointment to learn that insurance approved it. Success!

Have you ever been in an MRI machine before? If you have, you know that they’re loud and not peaceful. Yet laying in the machine for 45 minutes, listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, was the most calming thing I had experienced in almost a week. Being forced to lay down and close my eyes in fear of claustrophobia made me actually relax.

That night we did dinner with a big group of friends and headed back to Montana. I spent most of dinner chatting with a friend who has melanoma. She is such a rock, and I’m thankful I have her around for the hard questions.

We got back home at around 1am and both worked on Tuesday. We went to bed early, then got up at 4am to catch our flight to Houston. I worked a half day on Tuesday, full day Wednesday, and tried to get in full days Thursday and Friday.

Dr. Goff called us on Wednesday evening and let us know that MRI scans had come back. She said the tumor looked to be 2.3cm, and that aligned with her exam. She staged me at 1b1, maybe 1b2.

My parents met us in Houston and went with me to my appointments, and so did Dan’s mom. I brought my mom and Dan back to the exam room for me and we waited for Dr. Ramirez. I kicked my mom out of the room during the exam and Dr. Ramirez brought in two male colleagues from South America who were following him for a month. He said it wasn’t often they had pregnant patients, and asked if it would be ok if the two doctors sat in on my exam. I said it was no problem. The resident following Dr. Goff stayed up by my shoulder the whole time so I assumed the same would happen.

I was wrong. There I sat, feet in the stirrups, three not-so-bad-looking doctors peering into the speculum speaking in Spanish about what they were seeing. I looked at Dan in a panic.

I don’t know what was worse, that, or having a finger surprise me in a certain orifice to feel the tumor by Dr. Goff. Though as I sit here now thinking about it two and a half months later, I think I’d rather take the 3 doctors.

Dr. Ramirez said he thought my tumor was actually smaller than it really was, maybe 1.2cm. He wanted an MRI done with MD Anderson’s machine, and scheduled me for a cone biopsy on March 15. He and Dr. Goff both had the same treatment plan for me, the only difference being that MDA has no Maternal Fetal Medicine onsite, I would have to go to one of the adjacent hospitals on the ginormous University of Texas campus. Dan, my parents, and his parents all liked that Dr. Ramirez was moving so quick. I wasn’t sure though.

They still hadn’t received my biopsies. We called St. Patrick’s again and they said they had sent them. Finally MDA said they arrived and would take about a week to review.

After another round of waiting for insurance to clear my second MRI, I went in Friday afternoon and Dan was allowed in the room with me this time. Unlike the coffin-style machine at UW, this one was a circular ring that I passed through. It was less stressful than the UW MRI, and it was nice having Dan holding onto my feet during the 45 minutes.

The x-ray tech was really kind and let us see images of our baby.

“There’s its hands, feet, spinal cord, and brain!” she pointed out. She had mentioned earlier that normally babies move a lot during MRIs, but ours had stayed pretty still. I tried not to think too much about it, but looking back now I wonder if I should have seen that was a red flag.

My parents left on Friday to head back to Mexico. Dan and I were staying through the weekend. We planned to take a tour of NASA (Dan’s stepdad works there) and then go to the Sounders vs Houston game Saturday night.

Saturday when we were at NASA I got a call from my OBGYN resident friend. She asked how everything was going and I let her know that I was going to get surgery done at MD Anderson and any follow up treatment with the gyn oncologist in Montana (who was actually a resident for Dr. Ramirez). She paused.

“I really think you need to speak with a high-risk OB before you go through with surgery.”

“What? Why?”

“Because there needs to be an OB there to make sure that the baby’s needs are taken care of because I know that is your main concern.”

She brought up a good point. I thought that just removing the tumor and putting in a cerclage (a stitch to sew up the cervix) would be a simple procedure. But what happens if they end up taking much more than that? Or if something goes wrong and they make a last minute decision. MDA is great for cancer care, but UW would be the best for cancer AND pregnancy care.

I brought this up to Dan and he got really angry. We hadn’t heard back from UW about a surgery date and if that was even the route we’d go. We got in a huge fight because MDA had scheduled a surgery for us and UW hadn’t. I told him I didn’t care, I just wanted to take care of the baby.

The resident at UW had given me his email address, so I emailed him that night letting him know that we still had some questions and that MDA had scheduled a surgery on the 15th. He replied back cc’ing Dr. Goff and she emailed she would call me the next day.

We went to the Sounders game that night, Dan still in a bad mood but not angry. I saw a friend from Seattle and told her what was going on. I was sad that I could tell people I was pregnant now, but had to add that I also had cervical cancer. It’s an odd feeling seeing people go from totally happy, to sad and concerned in 2 second space. I did tell her husband I was pregnant though without adding the cancer because we were surrounded by people. It was nice to just have that feeling of happiness.

We left for Montana the next morning and I missed Dr. Goff’s call on our first flight. Dan had been upgraded to first class and I was in economy plus. He offered to switch, but since I couldn’t eat the first class meal or drink, I told him to stay in first class. I spent the flight coloring the coloring book my artist friend with melonoma gave me. It was so calming, I get the whole adult coloring thing now.

I called Dr. Goff as soon as I got off the plane and she said she would schedule me for surgery, and that she had already talked to the high-risk OB about me, and that she would take me as a patient. We decided then we would do our treatment at UW.

While I could stay with my in-laws in Houston, they were the only people I know there, and I didn’t want to spend the summer in hot Houston. Seattle is home to me. So many of my friends are there and I have an amazing support system. My parents live 2 hours away, so I could always stay at their house.

I was happy and exhausted. We finally had a plan and could relax before surgery in a week and a half. Little did I know my placenta was hemorrhaging and that was going to change my life.


Gossett Girl