Thursday, September 10, 2015

"Sort of" cancer

I have never felt the need to write down the birth story of my twins. I went to the hospital, birthed 2 healthy babies, it was the best day of my life, The End. About two years later, I had some of the worst days of my life, from finding out there had been “changes” in my pancreas, to the diagnostic events that led to a complicated 11-hour surgery with a lengthy recovery process. While my body has mostly healed, I am still trying to make sense of what happened to me. I am sharing my story to admit that I “sort of” had pancreatic cancer (I’ll get to that later), to heal, and to connect with others who may find some solace in the fact that they are not alone in facing a difficult situation.
I’m going to do my best to tell my story topically rather than chronologically. If I told my story in chronological order, it would begin in October 2014 with an awful case of heartburn and a trip to an abrupt physician. The ultimate diagnosis wouldn’t happen until 3 months later, but I feel it necessary to lead with the proper naming of my condition. I had a “solid pseudopapillary neoplasm” located in the head of my pancreas. A neoplasm is a fancy way of saying “a growth that shouldn’t be in your body.” A neoplasm can refer to either a benign (non-cancerous) or cancerous growth. But how does one “sort of” have pancreatic cancer? The term “pancreatic cancer” usually refers to adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, which is a highly aggressive form of cancer that leaves far fewer survivors than victims (this is the cancer that took Patrick Swayze). I did not and do not have adenocarcinoma. I did not and do not consider myself a cancer survivor, though if you visit the Johns Hopkins website, there under the “Neoplasms of the Exocrine Pancreas” a solid-pseudopapillary neoplasm is defined as a low-grade cancer. One of the top hospitals in the United States of America classifies my tumor as a cancer of the exocrine pancreas. I say I “sort of” had pancreatic cancer because a) I don’t want to admit I had cancer, and b) I don’t want to make light of or compare myself to those who are fighting much tougher battles.
Putting this "out there" is a big risk for me.  I'm not a particularly private person, but I tend to be a positive person and I haven't shared my darker moments, of which I've had plenty. As of today, this is the only post I've written. I wrote it about a month ago, and I've been debating publication. I decided to go for it. Since I'm telling the story of my "sort of" cancer topically, I have a few topics in mind already. Next up, why I have chosen to title this blog "Things left out."


  1. I saw my friends like your post on Facebook which lead me here... I just want you to know that I am an employee of the American Cancer Society and we do not "grade" cancer of ANY person who has been diagnosed. It can be very scary, but YOU are a cancer survivor. YOU (along with your family and your close friends) fought and are winning. Congratulations! Don't diminish your story just because someone out there has a different experience. (For example - you're no less a mother because you don't have as many kids as Octomom.) Congratulations on having beaten cancer - and on having such a wonderful support group around you!

  2. I agree with the previous commenter. You are a survivor. Congratulations! ❤️