13/4/2016: Here We Go Again

HealingTeddi Round 2 Begins

As a survivor of any cancer, you (and your family) are subject to the wonderful world of follow-up scans & testing and an associated phenomena known as 'scanxiety' - a period of time after your scans where one pretty much sits around in paralysed numbness while they wait for a phone call to tell them whether or not their cancer is back.  It's pretty much the suckiest part of your year. And lucky you, you get to do it every year... and maybe even more than once per annum!

When you finally get the call regarding your follow-up CT scan, MRI, bloods, etc (which feels like an entire year of agony in and of itself) after your annual trek to the local medical imaging centre, complete with foul smelling contrast drinks and needles (and a hole in your wallet) - you are left with one of two possible outcomes, both polar opposites on the emotional scale of awesomeness:

1. You're ecstatic. Pop the champagne. Share a selfie on Facebook.  You get another year of celebrating life, drinking wine and thriving in your aliveness. No cancer. All happiness.

2. You're devastated. Cast back into the darkness of anticipating the turmoil of cancer treatment, surgery and everything that goes along with it. Gutted, broken, down and out.

Yeah, I told you they were opposites.

Last year, in 2015, were we lucky to be in category 1. Wonderful! Hooray! Super fantastic! Best news ever.

This year, 2016, not so much... (shit!).

Not so good news & recurrence

On 12 April 2016, I was unfortunately informed that Teddi had a recurrence event.  The call came about 1 hour prior to me leaving for the airport to travel to an announcement celebration for a big research grant I had just won (literally the biggest moment of my professional career!). So here I was, once again, taken from the highest high, to the lowest low. 

The news?  Tumour had shown up on her most recent CT scan and she would have to have an operation to remove it.

Shit. Damn. Crap.  I was gutted. I quite literally collapsed to the floor and sobbed. What. The. F*ck. This again? Damn it... Why did this happen? Oh screw it, we know there is no answer to such questions.

But at least there was some good news...

OK, the good news? Thankfully, the recurrence was believed to be localised.  There was no evidence of it showing up anywhere else, and the operation was expected to be 'non-invasive' this time around.  That was a big relief, because that meant it wasn't nearly as bad as it had been last time. And last time, it wasn't just bad. It was BAD, with a capital B... hell, with all the capital letters!

For those of you who missed season 1 - Teddi previously had a peritonectomy to treat this disease, a condition known as 'pseudomyxoma peritonei'. A strange cancer where your appendix grows a primary tumour and ruptures, seeding small mucinous tumour cells around your peritoneal cavity, which then grow into big nasty tumours all over the place.

This wonderful surgical operation meant that she had to have a big 12 hour opening of her abdomen from pelvis to sternum, where she lost (are you ready for this?)... 1/3 of her colon, her omentum, appendix, right ovary, half her left ovary, her spleen and her gallbladder (don't worry they did leave some organs in there... I think).  They scraped tumour material from the bottom of her pelvis, up to her diaphragm and the lining of her heart, and awarded her a PCI of 24/39.  Meaning that 60% of her peritoneum had involvement from the disease.

Following this operation, she was in the hospital for five weeks, with follow up chemotherapy and the inability to eat or drink for four week straight. 

To eloquently elaborate on this experience: it sucked.

But to be more philosophical about it: since it sucked so bad last time, and we still kicked cancer's ass, we knew that we could handle it this time around

So here we go: Cancer round 2

So now, here we are, winding up for round 2.   Thankfully, this time, things look much less intense.  The surgical team in Sydney at St. George Hospital are lead by Prof. David Morris - a world leading expert in this disease - and they think that the tumour is very localised.  She'll have to have another peritonectomy operation, just to be safe, but we expect that it will be much easier for her to recover - you know, only 7-10 days in the hospital.  And we expect she will get to keep her all of her colon this time. How wonderful.  So, peritonectomy number two! Easy done mate, right?

Well... relatively so.  We are very optimistic, and in good spirits about this.  But I do think it is important to turn back to the internet for keeping people informed, and help direct some support towards our family. So I've set up "Round 2" here on my personal webpage, where I'll blog about our thoughts, emotions and experiences as we venture through this chapter of our lives.

So, Thanks for coming along. Let's all, once again, get behind Teddi, and cheer her onwards as she journeys toward good health. I sincerely believe that this will be the end of her battle with this cancer.  After this, I am confident that she will be cured. So let's guide her through this tough time with some LOVE, shall we? After all, it worked last time :-)

More from us soon.

Peace, Love and #HealingTeddi