5.20.2008

4 Year Celebration

MAY 19th, 2004...I was wheeled into a very life-threatening surgery to remove the tumor that had sat between my heart, lung, spinal cord and pulmonary artery for a year and a half. An amazing and renowned cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon had miraculously moved to where I lived (after having searched, literally, the world for options). He was the first person who gave us hope that he thought he could get the tumor out safely and would not even have to put me on heart bypass, as other surgeons had forcefully told us was going to be the case, IF it ever happened.

The surgery was quite long and 3 major muscles in my back were sawed through (and then put back together fiber by fiber-isn't medicine amazing?), parts of ribs were removed and stretched and a large curved incision on my back became permanent (and later a month-long collapsed lung was a complication of surgery...a story for another time). The surgeon discovered the tumor was the size of a small Nerf football and successfully removed it (and most of you know the best, juicy part of this tale-the tumor was discovered to have died inside of me with very minimal treatment-something doctors still can't explain and I'm ok with that :) ).

It had been a year and a half of a 0% chance of living (no one else in my situation, ever, with my cancer had lived with a relapse after a stem cell transplant). There were so many unknowns during that time, so many letdowns from world renowned doctors and experts and so much pain and worry about what was to come. How would I leave myself behind? Would I die slowly or quickly? Which organ would the tumor invade first and what would that entail? Would I be in a wheelchair?

Simply waking up in the morning with my arm completely asleep would make my mind immediately think that my body was shutting down-that the tumor had started to take over. But thankfully my arm always woke up. And I always woke up.

I still thankfully wake up every day and am amazed that 4 wonderful years have passed since that day. (Thank God!!!) It frankly blows my mind and is hard to put into words. I try to stick with the positive when possible and know that every day is what I consider extra time here, whether that day is good or very good.

Peace to all!

Today, I am grateful for: a wonderful day of charity & friends, time with my fiance, everything about today and for all my 'extra time' here, God's blessings and family!

Rach

18 comments:

Brandy said...

So much to celebrate! Graduation and 4 years...congrats! The golf tournament was fun and I wish I would've stayed for dinner but it was a long day, so sorry I missed you! Hope you had fun.

Colleen said...

I recently found your blog and love reading about your positive attitude towards life and it's a wonderful reminder to be thankful every day! Thanks!

A HUGE Congratulations on this milestone...

Obsessedwithlife said...

Thanks Brandy-it was a nice night! Thanks for volunteering :).

Colleen-Thanks!! Nice to meet you!

Rachel's "sister" said...

I remember the day Spanky was finally removed like it happened yesterday - hard to believe it's been 4 years! :) So much to be grateful for! Love you!

Bob Lozano said...

Very nice. A friend and I were just talking about your story this morning ... a great reminder about the gift we receive each day ... life itself!

Obsessedwithlife said...

Thanks Kelly and Mr. Lozano!

Gabe said...

"Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure." -D.L. Moody

Prayers work!! Thanks Blessed Chaminade :).

Allison said...

hey girl - this may be my favorite post of your to-date. so excited for your big day coming up *so soon* - it's going to be so special for everyone there (but obviously, mostly for you and gabe!) xoxo.

Wild About Words said...

Rachel,

So beautifully written. I, for one, am very glad you are still here to write about that harrowing experience. And I believe you are here for a reason. You still have good work to do, my dear!

With all good wishes,
Donna

Obsessedwithlife said...

Thanks Gabe! Great quote.

Allison-Thanks! Hugs!! Do you think you'll be able to come to the wedding??

Rach

Obsessedwithlife said...

Thanks Donna-I agree! I appreciate your remarks about my writing-coming from a published author!

Rach

Dee said...

Congratulations on your graduation and your 4 year anniversary. I enjoyed reading about this part of your journey through life. Thank you for sharing.

Obsessedwithlife said...

Dee-Thanks for your kind comment!

Henrike said...

Congratulations on your anniversary- I'm just grateful that you're still here and being such a wonderful person and brilliant advocate... and that I get to meet you in Ohio in July. Yep, I just got accepted, so I'll be hopefully adding a different and international point of view to the discussions. So excited- can't wait!

I'm taking Levothyroxine, too, but fortunately a very low dose- at least for now I'm doing okay with the 50 µg. Seems to work well for me, too.

Hugs, Henrike.

allison said...

I wouldn't miss it for the world! I'm actually going to be in St. Louis the whole week before it ... can't wait :o)

Obsessedwithlife said...

Thanks Henrike-Looking forward to meeting you!

Allison-looking forward to it!! YAY!

Rach

Bryn said...

I'm new to cancer blogging :) I stumbled across your blog and was amazed by your story! I'm also a bride-to-be sarcoma survivor. I love your daily messages of thanks...what a good idea.

Obsessedwithlife said...

THanks Bryn-welcome and I'll be checking out your blog :).

Rach