Last Tuesday, November 20th, I received a regular three-month follow-up scan. Typically I would have received a PET (full body) scan, however, our insurance is not cancer-patient friendly. Apparently, because my last PET scan in August came back clear of cancer, they deemed it unnecessary to cover any further PET scans unless a CT (localized) scan came back showing anything. Ridiculous, I know. Don’t get me started…frankly that’s beside the point.
I got a call from my Gynecologic Oncologist just two days ago, on the 26th. She immediately asked where I was, which in my heart, I knew was a bad sign. I was right. She informed me that my cancer has recurred. Dammit.
While we aren’t sure of the exact blueprints of this next treatment journey, I will give you as much information as we currently know. The mass that appeared in the CT scan is exactly the size of a softball. Yes, you read that correctly…a softball. Honestly, it’s one centimeter bigger than an adult softball. But that’s semantics. At it’s widest, it’s nearly four inches (9.8cm) in diameter. Shocking, I know. Clearly, this type of cancer is proving to be as aggressive as we were initially told. In August there were no signs of cancer, and only three months later, there is a beastly tumor the size of a softball growing inside my body. This circular mass has been located in the same general vicinity as my original golf-ball sized tumor. It is near my pelvic region, and close to my mid abdomen around my belly button. It’s closer to my left side, and I can actually feel it.
About one month ago, I began experiencing pain in this exact location of my lower abdomen. Because the doctors usually push around my stomach when I get any check-ups, I thought I’d give it a go. I definitely didn’t expect to feel anything. But I did. I felt a hard mass. Because having already battled cancer often tends to making us survivors paranoid and hyper sensitive to any changes in our bodies, I tried to brush it off as nothing. Three weeks ago, I had a regular three-month follow-up with my doctor and informed her about this sudden change in my body. She explained that based on how our intestinal tract works, it most likely was just a back up of stool and that she couldn’t feel anything during her internal exam. In fact, my pap smear results were normal. However, the pain continued and progressed. Days went by and the mass remained. I chalked it up to being constipated. Maybe I was just more backed up than I thought.
Now that the CT results are in, we can most definitely connect the pain and hardness to this mass that has been discovered. My constipation is also a symptom. While, we don’t know exactly where this monster is thriving, my doctors believe it’s getting it’s blood supply from my bowels. That means lower intestinal tract. Hence the constipation. This beast is sucking the life out of my lower organs. And, have I mentioned how huge it is? I’m still shocked.
Where we go from here is a little up in the air right now. Surgery, radiation, and chemo are all on the table again. It’s a matter of the sequence of these treatments in determining the effectiveness. Late yesterday afternoon we met with a General Oncologist that my Gyn Oncologist recommended we see. Once we met this doctor, we immediately adored him. God has sent us another key player for our team. He is a genius when it comes to chemotherapy. He knows all the different types of drugs and their side effects. His knowledge immediately put us at ease. In addition, he treats a lot of lung cancer patients. Most lung carcinomas are similar to my Neuroendrocrine cancer. He knows his stuff. All of my doctors do, and we are so grateful for that. After explaining to us what we were dealing with, he began to talk about treatment options. Surgery first, then chemo? Chemo to shrink it and then surgery to remove it? While my current three Oncologists (Radiation Onc, Gynecologic Onc, and General Onc) are well versed, they really want the opinion of another expert.
As most know, MD Anderson is the biggest and best cancer center in America. Through word of mouth and recommendations, we have learned of a special doctor in Houston who is the lead researcher for my exact type of cancer. He is continually studying how my carcinoma works and what the most effective treatments are. Therefore, we need to get to Houston to see this expert immediately. My Oncologists here agree that I need to get out there as soon as possible… Like yesterday. However, remember the hoopla with our insurance? Again, they deem it unnecessary for me to travel outside of our basic providers to receive a consultation or treatment out-of-state. Completely asinine. Essentially, they require that my doctors here call the authorization department of our insurance company and explain the urgency and necessity of this MD Anderson visit. Being fed up, I asked what it would cost to get an appointment without using our insurance and the receptionist answered, “$27,000.” Needless to say, we need insurance to agree to cover this out-of-state doctor’s visit. That’s a huge prayer request of ours right now.
Long story short, we need to get this ball rolling. This cancer is fast-growing and more aggressive than I ever imagined. I’m desperate to get this monster out of me. I want it gone, and I will do whatever it takes. I’ll go to Zimbabwe to receive a shot made from monkey saliva if I need to. Whatever it takes. And not to mention, this sucker hurts. We knew cancer was mean, but this is at a whole different level. My stomach throbs, and any time I touch it, it fires back… Umm, no sir. You will not win. We are going to poke, prod, cut, poison, and demolish you. Get the hell out of me.
It is imperative that I receive a PET scan in the next few days. Our team and I want to make sure it hasn’t grown anywhere else. They definitely want to check my lungs and my brain for any traces of malignancy. My team of doctors is having my case meeting today to discuss my situation and what the best course of action they believe will be. They are also going to conference call the doctor in Houston to try and see if any strings can be pulled for us to get in to see him. We could be going to Houston as early as tonight or the beginning of next week. I could also be in surgery as early as next week. And chemo might or might not start before then. Everything is dependent on my local doctors communicating with this Oncologist in Houston and getting on the same page. They understand the urgency of my situation, and are willing to do whatever it takes as well. We are all in agreement as far as getting this ball rolling as quickly and effectively as we can. We will continue to keep you updated as soon as we have a more solid plan.
Initially the news rocked us. I was deeply saddened and frustrated that we would have to go through all of this again. My husband was pissed. His anger was directed at God. “How could you allow this to happen again!?” But after a night of grieving, we woke up yesterday with a fire under our asses. My strong guardian of a husband, wrapped his arms around me and said, “It may sound weird, but I’m not scared at all.” And I feel the same. We aren’t scared because we are confident that with God on our side, we can beat this. We will beat this. I will be cancer-free again. And for more than a few weeks this time. I am determined to fight this battle and stomp on the enemy’s intentions. The enemy wants to defeat me, and there is no way we are going to let that happen. I’ve already told God that he’s going to have to drag me kicking and screaming out of this world. As incredible as Heaven sounds, I’m definitely not ready to make it my home yet. I’ve got way too many things to do on Earth. We’ve got babies to be had, memories to be made, and many more years to experience. Our faith is strong and our fire is burning. We know we are about to endure another intense and difficult battle, but there is nothing to fear. After all, “God has overcome the world.” Our victory is in Him.
Cancer will not win, because I will not lose.
Mark 4:35-40 (The Message)
“Late that day he said to them, ‘Let’s go across to the other side.’ They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, ‘Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?’ Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Settle down!’ The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: ‘Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?'”
email@example.comNovember 28, 2012 at 9:41 AM (11 years ago)
I am so so sorry to hear this news. I have prayed for you everyday and will continue to do so. I pray for your strength and pray that YOU WILL kick this cancer’s butt!!
God Bless You Every Day!
Kelley Di MartinoNovember 28, 2012 at 10:14 AM (11 years ago)
How unfortunate to hear of your new circumstances….I could not even imagine what it is you are going through right now. But no matter how hard it gets, NEVER give up on God. He is never the one to blame and without Him you will be left with nothing. Whenenver you feel alone just remember that God is always with you, in many different forms, holding you hand along the way. This experience will only make you stronger! And as hard as it may be to believe, everything does happen for a reason. It is hard I am sure to understand that now, but it will make sense someday. I will continue to pray for you and your family on this continous jouney. Keel strong
Kelley Di MartinoNovember 28, 2012 at 10:15 AM (11 years ago)
*keep strong and may God bless you!
Pat KuperNovember 28, 2012 at 10:17 AM (11 years ago)
It breaks my heart to hear on more struggles coming your way. Howver if God didn’t intend you to fight this battle, he wouldn’t have given you the break he did to regain your strength and courage.
My prayers are still with you and your husband and will continue to be as you fight this new round with cancer and the insurance companies. Be Strong! You have an army behind you.Reply
GingerNovember 28, 2012 at 11:29 AM (11 years ago)
Dear Stephanie and MattReply
I just read this blog to Dave and we prayed for you. This is not the news we wanted to read. While it saddens us that you have to start the physical battle again, we will stand by you as prayer warriors. We love you. Ginger
MelindaNovember 28, 2012 at 1:19 PM (11 years ago)
I’m praying for you Stephanie. I’ll fight it with you. Satan needs to get out and stay out. Love the Nava family!Reply
colorado-glo2girlNovember 28, 2012 at 1:24 PM (11 years ago)
Stephanie, Joining the army of pray warriors on your behalf as you enter into your second battle!!!! God is with you all. May He continue to shower you with His Love and His Presence.
Love and Blessings, Joyce Bilodeau
“My flesh and my heart may fail,But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works!
Psalm 73:25-26, 28Reply
J.D.November 28, 2012 at 1:51 PM (11 years ago)
You are an amazing, amazing person. Your faith and strenght are an inspiration and helped put into perspective so many of the petty troubles that too often distract our focus from what and who really matter.
Briana and I are praying for you, and will continue to do so as both you and Matt vanquish this cancer.
May you enjoy all the riches of this holiday season with each other, and anticipate with great joy the countless years you have ahead.
With all our love,
J.D. and BrianaReply
amyjandNovember 28, 2012 at 3:30 PM (11 years ago)
Sending you, Matt, and your team of doctors all of my love. Confident that you will defeat this next stage of your battle, Stephanie.Reply
thoreaulynotedNovember 28, 2012 at 7:25 PM (11 years ago)
I love you! Praying ALWAYS.Reply
Tamara KempNovember 28, 2012 at 7:31 PM (11 years ago)
Praying for you! UGH! My heart hurts for you…Reply
meganmacfarlandNovember 28, 2012 at 9:15 PM (11 years ago)
You are a beautiful testimony…May God WOW you as you walk this journey (again).Reply
Faith PrestNovember 28, 2012 at 11:36 PM (11 years ago)
Love you guys so much,and am standing with you guys in the fight! Most importantly praying that you would feel “God fighting for you,and feeling surrounded during this intense time”. You are an amazing woman Stephanie with amazing days to come that will make the enemy pay,lives to be saved through your testimony (even now) and the desires of your heart as a family to be fulfilled!Love you and Matt so incredibly much!
MelitaNovember 28, 2012 at 11:40 PM (11 years ago)
Stephanie my dear, I am praying for you and your healthcare team.Reply
Devra AshbeckNovember 29, 2012 at 5:14 AM (10 years ago)
I read this this morning. we will continue to pray with faith and pester the good God of heaven and earth for healing. we love you!
Luke 18:1-8 ESV
“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, “Give me justice against my adversary.” For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, “Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.”” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?””
Carol BNovember 29, 2012 at 11:05 AM (10 years ago)
Stephanie your tenacity is awesome! and your faith shines so bright! Praying for you and Matt every time I think of it!! Thank God you have the rock of ages!!Reply
HeidiNovember 29, 2012 at 12:30 PM (10 years ago)
Dear Stephanie, I am saddened and shocked by this news. I marvel at your response and stand alongside of you in the fight and in the journey. I am 10 1/2 yrs cancer survivor and will pray for this journey you are on – from Poland, where I live and serve the Lord.Reply
Susie Q AschenbrennerNovember 30, 2012 at 7:34 PM (10 years ago)
Kick butt, Stephanie!!!!!! I am a close friend to your grandparents, Bill and Betty. I want to send you an email message of something I shared when Jadwyn (sp?) was dealing with a tumor scare. I hope you are able to respond to me. Your sister in Christ, Susie QReply