One Year

One year ago today, I received a call from my doctor asking if Dan and I could come into the office ASAP. One year ago today we sat in her office and I blatantly asked if I had cancer because she was describing things, but not using the word. One year ago today our world turned upside down.

This past year has seemed to crawl by. It seems like ages ago Dan and I were traveling to Seattle and Houston to decide my treatment plan. Chemo and radiation seem like a distant memory from years past, not something I just went through six months ago.

Today though, I am spending the day biking around Montevideo with Dan and spending time with his mom and stepdad. I thought by this point we would have a six-month old taking over our life, but instead it’s just me and Dan. Life may not be where I thought it would at 33, but I’m taking what I have and trying to make the most of it.

I feel better and am getting stronger. I recently ran 5.5 miles at a 9:18 pace, then ran three miles under a 9 minute pace the next day. I’ve started doing spin, yoga, hot yoga, and rock climbing.

Dan and I have booked a trip to Europe over Christmas and will have that to look forward to once we’re back from South America. While Dan and I have traveled a lot this past year, minus a work trip to Boston, everything has been for health reasons. We haven’t seen his siblings in over a year since his youngest sister got married last September. We’re hoping to meet up with them, his dad, and stepmom in Seattle in April, and we’ll be doing a week in Hawaii to celebrate his stepmom’s birthday.

We’re trying very hard to make up for all that was lost last year. While I know nothing will take away the pain that we have gone through, trying to enjoy what we do have helps to ease some of it. Here’s looking to future adventures.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

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Three Month Check-up

I got back from a quick Seattle trip late last night (early this morning technically). I had my three month follow-up with Dr. Goff’s nurse practitioner. The exam was short, fast, and only slightly painful. The exam was good though, nothing out of sorts. It’s always nerve-wrecking going into these things. My next follow-up is in April, when I’ll do another scan.

Less than two years to go of every three month check-ups. I’m looking forward to that time! While I love visiting my friends in Seattle, it’d be nice to use that airplane ticket to go somewhere else… We haven’t visited family in almost a year. The only trip we went on last year (minus NYC which was planned before pregnancy and cancer) was to Boston, and that was tacking on to my work trip. We’re headed to South America next month and can’t wait for that trip to happen.

I went out for a friend’s birthday on Saturday, and after a few too many drinks, I broke down crying. I have been so stressed out over last year and lost my ability to cry things out. While I feel bad for crying to all my friends (and being a hot mess), I woke up Sunday with a weight off my shoulders. It was nice to get all that emotion out. Though, it would be nicer if I could cry like I used to instead of holding everything in. I used to be one of those people who cried at the smallest things like commercials. I’ve found myself to be more cynical after last year and having trouble with letting go of emotions (unless apparently there is wine involved).

I am hoping to return to my old self, even if it means going back to silly things like crying at Google and Maxwell House commercials. 2018 is already starting to look up, so I’m hopeful that the old Gina will return.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Hello 2018!

Happy New Year! As with everything I do, this message comes a little late. But at least it showed up, right? I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. I had time off between the two holidays and had grand plans for reading, cooking, blogging, and binge-watching Big Little Lies, but instead I got sucked into reading the new Dan Brown novel, Origin, and then began re-reading the Robert Langdon series. Should I have read something a little more thought-provoking? Maybe. But it was a fun way to finish out the year — A little European, art history adventure.

Dan and I hosted Christmas dinner for friends who were staying in Montana which was a fun evening filled with good food (crab over-nighted from Seattle!) and lots of wine and bourbon. New Years Eve was spent in Spokane at our new favorite bar, Durkins. We sipped French 75s and champagne all night. I may have fallen asleep at our hotel before the fireworks went off.

2017 was a horrible year, but it also brought a lot of support and love. I’m hopeful for 2018. I am going to try and spend this year enjoying life and doing more things. I want to make up for things that didn’t happen last year: travel, cooking, baking, reading, outdoor adventures, and more.

We are headed to South America next month, and are planning on running the Calgary marathon/half marathon (and hopefully the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver). We’re hoping for another big trip around Christmas as well. And of course, my every 3-month follow-ups in Seattle start up again next week. We’ve talked to family about doing a weekend meet-up in Seattle for one of these trips.

My friend gave me a Great British Bake Off calendar for my birthday, and I plan on making the baked good on the calendar each month. Great for dusting off my baking pans, maybe not so great for my waistline, but definitely worth it! I have also started borrowing cookbooks from the library to try different recipes. I was barely in the kitchen last year, and this year I’m going to make up for it.

As for reading, I should challenge myself to read books with a purpose. I love a good dystopian novel, perhaps throwing in a book about finance or self-betterment wouldn’t hurt. I’m also hoping to spend more time reading instead of watching TV shows that I don’t even like.

And finally, I’m sure outdoor adventures will come. Our love of trying new things and living in Montana, I have no fear we’ll get out and do things.

Here’s to a great 2018!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Update

Hello!

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? My bad. Dan and I went to Boston at the end of September/beginning of October for my work conference (which I’ll make another post on), then he went to Belgium for work and I went to Seattle for my three month check up.

Great news: my PET/CT scan and exam came back clean!

I flew to Seattle on a late Wednesday night so I could go to a dress rehearsal of the Barber of Seville on Thursday night with a friend, then have my PET/CT scan on Friday morning. Side note: the Barber of Seville is amazing and if you get the chance to see it, you should. 

While I was pretty sure my scan would be good, there’s always that underlying fear that they would find something. It was also a very emotional day for me. Two days before, I had sent flowers to a friend who had had a baby, but I just wanted to let her and her husband know that we were happy for them and thinking about them. She responded with a picture of them and their baby and an update, which I apparently wasn’t ready for. I ended up crying on the flight over. The next day, a friend informed me another friend that I had planned on seeing during my trip was pregnant, and without meaning to, I started crying again. I was happy for my friend, but sad for our loss and for my pregnancy that would never be. Then I was angry at myself for being so upset over a friend’s happy news. And then I was stressed out about whether I should see my friend or not.

When I got to my scan, they had to ask the question: Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? And I lost it. I started crying and replied, “Can you please make sure that this question isn’t asked again?” The tech was so kind and said she would try her best to make sure notes would show up so this wouldn’t show up on my normal questionnaire.

I thought about my MRI in Houston during my Pet/CT scan. I remember Dan being in the room with me, his hand on my foot the whole time, trying to comfort me during everything. I remembered looking at our baby on the screen, and the tech trying to show us what she thought was the best angle. I remembered her making a comment of the baby not moving that much, even though before the scan she said babies usually moved a lot. I remembered wondering if that was the first sign that things weren’t going to end well.

It was hard to go back to that day. A couple tears rolled from my eyes, but I couldn’t move to dry my face and it was so cold. I said to the tech, “I know you’re not supposed to say anything, but can you tell me anything?” and she answered, “Well, I could see you bladder filling during the scan, and normally if I see something that’s worrisome I would have asked you to empty your bladder again. I didn’t do that, so… Take that as you will.”

I was so relieved and I texted Dan who was flying back from Belgium at that moment. He flew out for the day that Monday when we had an appointment with Dr. Goff. We sat in the waiting room nervously, and I was trying to get work done while we waited. When they called us back, we passed Dr. Goff who was sitting at her computer and had just dialed a number on her phone.

“I have good news for you!” she yelled as we walked down the hall. What an amazing feeling. Dan and I looked at each other and smiled, we both felt a hundred pounds lighter. Apparently we both looked so scared and sad, that she needed to relieve our fears before our appointment. I reminded her of our April appointment when the first thing she said to us was, “I have bad news.”

When she came in for my exam, she said the scan was clean. She did an exam and said everything looked good there as well. She did let us know that because one of my lymph nodes from the April biopsy was positive, I am at a 20-25% chance of the cancer coming back. We will monitor it by going back every three months for an exam with Dr. Goff, and every six months we will add a CT scan as well.

Is it possible that we have gotten through the worst? That I am now cancer-free? I’m cautious to be so excited, but hopeful that the worst is behind us.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

IVF

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.

XOXO,

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…

XOXO,

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.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

The Babymoon

I had always imagined going to Europe for our babymoon. Running around Paris with a baby bump, eating pain au chocolat, taking cute photos in front of the Eiffel Tower, and French women looking at my bump adoringly. In all actuality, I probably would have just looked fat and hated all the photos I was in. And truthfully, I wouldn’t have had enough vacation time to go anywhere before August.

Back in October, Dan miraculously got tickets to Hamilton on Broadway. Yes, that Hamilton. From the actual theater and not resale. It was amazing. Neither of us had been to New York City before (minus the airports), so we were excited to make a mini-vacation out of it. Little did we know it would be our babymoon.

Side note: Does a 5 day trip to NYC at 11 weeks constitute as a babymoon? Maybe not normally, but it was the only vacation we went on while I was pregnant. And since I will not be able to be pregnant again, I’m calling this as my babymoon.

Our vacation was planned for the first weekend of February. In addition to Hamilton, we were also going to go to Book of Mormon and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. We arrived at 6am on Saturday and headed straight to our hotel which was in Midtown. After dropping off our bags, we walked a couple blocks to Ess-a-Bagel and enjoyed our first New York bagels. I was relegated to an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese (and my life has changed due to that cream cheese) while Dan had a lox bagel. It was everything he dreamed of. I stole little bits of bagel, assuring myself that one little bite wasn’t going to hurt the pregnancy.

After our breakfast we took a quick nap before heading out to Little Italy. I saw that there was a Chinese festival going on during the day and thought that would be fun thing to do, besides stopping at every pizza joint to get a slice of pizza. Which Dan insisted on doing.

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Our first slice at Prince Street Pizza

We walked around Little Italy/Chinatown for a couple hours, eating more pizza, bubble tea and snacks at Ten Ren, and had a cannoli from Caffe Palermo which was recommended by multiple friends.

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Cannoli!

We walked our way up back up to Midtown, stopping by Eataly where we had second lunch? Third lunch? I wanted the burrata so bad, but Dr. Google says burrata isn’t for pregnant women, so I stuck with mozz and sparkling water. And gelato for dessert. Because during first trimester, all I wanted was sugar and carbs.

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At this point I may have asked my OB friend about gestational diabetes…

That night we went to the evening showing of Book of Mormon and made it back to the hotel to watch Kristen Stewart host SNL just 10 blocks away from us.

Sunday morning we got up for a run around Central Park. Pregnancy had taken a toll on my running. I had no energy and I just felt fat. It didn’t help when we ran by storefront mirrors and I checked myself out. Dan ran the entire Central Park loop and we split up at the reservoir and I ran that twice waiting for him. We made our way slowly back to the hotel then headed out for the day.

We took the train down to Katz’s deli and split a reuben and matzo ball soup. Then went next store to Russ and Daughters and got more bagels. Because, when in NYC, right? I wanted to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, but Dan wasn’t feeling well and it was cold. We ended up walking back up to the hotel, stopping for dessert at Mac Brenner, then doing some shopping along the way, including my first maternity wear! Yay new bras from a Pea in the Pod.

The plan for Monday was going to see the Today Show and head to wait in line for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Instead, we slept in and made our way through Rockefeller Center and then arrived at the Ed Sullivan theater at noon. Were we the first ones there? Yes. Did we need to be there that early? No. Was it the only real sunny day while we were in NYC and maybe we should have spent time in Central Park instead? Perhaps. Whatever. After 10 years I was finally going to see Stephen Colbert in person! I couldn’t wait! We ended up in the second row and watched him interview Paul Giamatti and Wendy Williams. He was just as amazing as I had hoped.

Dan still wasn’t feeling well, so we went down to BCD Tofu House and went to bed early. Without a doubt, this was the quietest trip we’ve ever been on. No bars. No dancing. No late nights.

Tuesday was Hamilton day! We got up, walked to the Met in the rain, then cabbed back to hotel. After 4 days of walking around my feet were officially done. It was cold, but at that point I’d rather wear my Nikes and have frozen ankles, then warm legs and broken feet. We took the train down to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked over for some pizza at Grimaldi’s and headed back over. We checked out the World Trade Center memorial and did some shopping at the Oculus.

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We took the train back to Midtown, I changed into my new booties and we headed to Hamilton! It was everything I imagined and even more. Dan loved it as well.

New York City was amazing. I miss being in the city and everything it offers. We definitely plan on going back, hopefully with our future child. There are so many museums to visit and places to eat. We can’t wait to make more memories there in the future.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl