Saturday, June 2, 2007

2 years Cancer Free!!!!!

Just over two years ago Travis wasn't really feeling himself. He was never hungry, tired, and started losing a lot of weight. When someone asked him to go golfing and he "just felt to tired" we both started to worry. We finally decided that he should see a doctor just to see if he was okay. The doctor tooks some blood and he was "Severely anemic." Still, the Doctor didn't think that we needed to worry a whole lot and thought maybe Trav had an ulcer. No big deal-right? Just go to the hospital and they will do an ultra-sound and we will see. They told Travis at the ultra sound that he would probably hear something within a week or so. Travis went back to work and not 2 hours later the Doctor called and asked him to come to his office. I guess that is when we started to worry-They said a week, but called in 2 hours?

I called my mom to watch Adyson and met Travis over at the office. It's funny when I look back on that day I should have known something was seriously wrong. The nurses seemed extra nice and they didn't make a lot of eye contact-never a good sign! The doctor came in and I remember his saying they found something unexpected in his ultrasound. Okay-the panic sets in a bit. A tumor in his right kidney. A very large tumor. Cancer. Not it could be something else, just Cancer. Renel Cell Carcinoma. The doctor went on to tell us a little bit about this type of cancer-and honestly I don't remember a word he said-I just kinda sat there thinking that it wasn't real. I did catch him telling us that Travis would have to have his whole kidney out within days, but then I sort of zoned out again. I didn't hear much until Travis asked a question that I can still hear in my head. "Is it cureable?" The answer was just a plain "No." He told us that Trav's tumor was so big that it probablly had spread. Chemo will not help this type of cancer. You just have to hope that it is contained to the kidney. He set us up with a few appointments, one with a cancer doctor, and one with a surgeon, and we were on our way.

Now Travis and I are both the type of people who don't cry often. We sat in that office stone faced and didn't shed a tear. But the second we opened the door to go out to the car, we just lost it. I will never forget sitting outside that office and not really knowing what to do next. We had to go home to our sweet little one year old and we had to explain to our families how grim the future was feeling. I cannot tell you how hard it is to get the words "Travis has cancer" out of your mouth. You'd think it would get easier the more phone calls you make, but it really doesn't. It becomes real. On the plus side, even that night I realized how truly lucky and blessed we were to have to call so many people. Withing hours we had flowers delivered, the bishop called, the Relief Society President called, the neighbors called.

That night the whole family, sans Heather and Jody who lived in Florida, came over and gave Travis a blessing. Even as I write this I tear up because I will never forget the spirit in my house that night. My father-in-law gave him a beautiful blessing, and I knew then that we would be okay. We had support! Lots and lots of support.
Over the next few days we met with the doctors. The blessings started then. As I am writing this I still cannot believe the blessings we had. Miracles, small miracles. They origonally wanted to take his kidney out by starting a cut by his belly button and going all they way to his back. A HUGE incision, a very hard to recover from surgery. Months away from work and a lot of pain. Then another surgeon who worked with the one we were reffered to had a better idea. He said he hoped he could take it out lapriscopically. Meaning a very small incision, and two tiny holes for cameras. Still a tough surgery but the recovery was weeks instead of months and much less painful. The surgeons decided that they would start it that way and they would both be there just in case they needed the alternative. We felt like we were in such good hands, (parden the pun) and were ready to get that cancer out of him.

I honestly don't remember how long it was from diagnosis to surgery, but it wasn't long at all. Maybe a week. The surgery lasted an awful long time. I remember saying goodbye and just waiting in the room for hours. Finally the doctor called and said that the surgery went well and they were able to take it out lapriscopically, though he was so skinny they had to make the incision a few inches bigger than they thought, but we couln't have asked for more. That was another blessing. Recovery was interesting. Travis was pretty out of it for the first few days. When he finally started to wake up-they wanted to make sure his other kidney was working. Now just to make you all laugh because so far this post is a little depressing-I will tell you what that means. They want you to fart. Yep, they want to know your bowels are working, and Trav's took a while to wake up. He couldn't eat or really even sip water til this happened. So for three days about every half hour a cute little nurse would come in and say " Have you passed gas yet?" Whoduthunk that so many people would want you to fart! Needeless to say-they woke up.
After the surgery they take the tumor and slice and dice it and try to determine the damage it has done to your body. His tumor was large and everyone told us to expect the worst. Well, when they brought the report it was yet another blessing. His tumor was about 2 mm's away from spreading outside the kidney, but had not yet. They said that there were a few lymph nodes that seemed a little different, but things were looking up for us. We caught that sucker just in time!!!

The blessings seemed to poor in at that point. Cancer and surgery is expensive, especially when Travis couldn't work for 3 or 4 weeks. His boss said not to worry about sick hours and that we would be fine. People from his job were so generous to us. The day after his surgery some of his great friends from work came to visit. When they left they gave us an evelope full of money. A lot of money. Every couple of weeks we would get the mail and there would be an evelope with 50 dollars inside. Our front porch stairs started sinking before Trav got sick. When he was home and recovering we hear a huge bang out front. A bunch of our nieghbors knocked the stairs out and repoored the cement for us. We had dinners brought to us for weeks. My sister, who was living away at the time, flew up with her kids to come and help us and be a support to us. Everyone was so generous to us and they will never know how touched we were, and are still, by their kindness. If nothing else we were taught how loved we were and how caring people truly are.

Anyways-we met with The Cancer Doctor and learned plenty of facts about RCC. It is primarily found in 60 year old men, or older. Trav's case was extememly rare. There really aren't any studies done for people his age with this type of cancer. He basically said that Trav would need scans done every year for the next 5 years and then the nightmare would be over.

It was weird when life just got back to normal. Trav went back to work and started looking healthy again. He gained weight, and had energy and color again. But life was normal to us again-and normal is gooooood! Through all of this I have learned that the fear will always be there. Every time he goes for a scan we are terrified and relieved when things are okay. Whenever he even gets a cold I worry! But we have also learned how loved we are and that miracles are real. Whenever someone loses the battle with any type of cancer my heart aches in a different way than it used to. I think that so easily could have been us. Why did we get so lucky and so many others aren't?

Anyways-I wasn't planning on a cancer story tonight, I was just going to say that Thursday was Trav's two year cancer free anniversary, but it felt good to write it and relive it. It makes me thankful for everything all over again.

On a totally different note, Travis took Friday off of work and we took the girls to the zoo. It was a blast! I knew that Adyson would love it, but little Sienna loved it too! Every animal she saw she would say "turtle" or "good girl" it was hilarious! It was lovely to spend the day together as
a family. I apologize for the ramble tonight! Here are some great zoo pics.


Trisha said...

Totally inspiring Hayley! I am so glad that you shared your story because I feel like I got a small glimpse into a time that I wasn't a part of (my own fault and loss).

You guys are amazing and congrats!

Heather Wolfley said...

Okay, Hay. I just got to missing you guys tonight, so I got on here to see picks of your girls and now I am bawling my eyes out! I knew all of that, already, but it really brought that time back for me -- all the bad stuff and all the good stuff, too. What a relief to be able to kow that everything is Okay, now! Give Travis a hug for me when he gets home tonight! Love Heather