Trip #4 to the big city completed!

Mom said be prepared to make about 30 trips to Toronto after being diagnosed with this gene mutation.  I’m starting to believe she wasn’t exaggerating.  Wednesday marked the 4th trip to Toronto.  Let’s do a quick recap. Trip #1 – met with genetic counsellor to discuss pros and cons of being tested – blood is taken. Await results.  Trip #2 – receive news from genetic counsellor that I have the CHD1 gene mutation.  Boo! But, ultimately good.  Trip #3 – met with the gastroenterologist who will be doing my surgery and set surgical date.  That brings us to now. Trip #4 – met with fertility specialist to discuss future family planning.

We were referred to a fertility specialist at Mount Sinai because we had questions about in vitro fertilization.  It was a very informative meeting for both us as well as the fellow, resident, and head doctor.  We first met with the fellow who took our medical histories.  Again, he did not know about this gene mutation so I used my Oscar length speech to explain what it was and why we were there.  He educated us on what was involved with in vitro fertilization.  It was very educational.  After he discussed the portion about the extracting the eggs, he turned and looked at Brandon. Brandon started to laugh a little.  I wasn’t sure why but we continued on talking as if that didn’t happen.  Later I learned that Brandon thought the fellow was going to talk about how they would obtain his sperm.  He was prepared to say, “trust me I can handle it”  or “if you give me a chance, I’m sure I can pull it off”.

After he took an extensive history, he went to get the specialist who was also accompanied by a resident.  She explained to us that she had never done this before for a CDH1 gene mutation but it should be possible.  She was fairly certain there were markers available because the blood test was possible. She just needed to find out if there was a lab that would do that – possibly one in Detroit.  Good to know because if no markers are there, no chance that its even possible to do the pre-genetic testing.

Besides the whole educational aspect about what is involved, I had a few questions of my own specific to CDH1 and in vitro which I’ll list here for easier reading.

Q: What is the risk of using the artificial hormones (estrogen) to stimulate the eggs and breast cancer?

A: The risk isn’t any greater than just taking birth control.  Phewf!

Q: What are the chances of having an embryo implanted with the CDH1 gene mutation because the screening wasn’t as accurate as we thought.  We asked this because this isn’t very common with the CDH1 gene mutation and we would be the 1st ones in the region to do this.

A: The doctors assured us that the risk is very low and unlikely.  That was also reassuring.

Q: What are the risks that more than one embryo would implant?

A: Because I am young, they would only implant one embryo.  The risk is low that twins would occur because only one embryo is being implanted.  Carrying one baby without a stomach is high risk so I couldn’t even imagine carrying two.

We felt better about the whole process after speaking with the specialist.  Pregnancy is a long way off now that I must have my stomach removed 1st but this appointment provided some good insight into future planning.  Right now we are dealing with what we know, and we know the cancer needs to be taken care of.  We hope that I won`t need chemo because that will affect the integrity of my eggs (in which my eggs would have to be removed now and frozen until we were ready).  But we won`t know about that until after my stomach is removed.  On a side note, if I do need chemo, the price of the in vitro is one-third less because it is medically necessary and I would be able to freeze eggs prior to starting chemo. I don`t like to put too much weight on this because up until now, most prophylactic gastrectomies done here in Toronto have had early stage cancer and the people have not required chemo or radiation. Yay!

On the way home from the appointment we talked about some difficult in vitro scenarios. For example, what if…..we had our first child with in vitro and then accidentally got pregnant with a second one naturally.  If we go the in vitro route, we likely will be doing it more than once because we would ideally like to have more than one child…but who knows..only time will tell!  Again, babies are a long way off.

Next up, visit #5 – pre-op! March 19th.

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Will I be a cancer survivor?

Every year my company puts in a bunch of teams for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for life. This is an overnight event where people walk around a track for about twelve hours. You must always have someone on your team walking at all times.  I have participated in this walk for the past two years and have had a great time each year.  Two years ago it was especially meaningful because earlier in the day I had visited my friend in the hospital who was recovering from a malignant tumor that was removed from his neck.  We were 28 years old.  He had adenoid cystic carcinoma.   He then had to go through 30 consecutive days of radiation.  It was a surreal experience visiting him in the hospital and it brought everything into perspective.  I thought to myself, ‘we are just too young to have cancer’.   That year I felt like I was doing the cancer walk for him and the others I knew who were affected by cancer.

Okay back to this year and the reason for this post.  The planning for this year’s Relay for Life has begun and emails have gone out asking for participants for this year’s walk.  This year one of my co-workers asked if she could walk for me this year.  Although I was extremely honoured, it made me think about this cancer and do I really qualify as someone who should be recognized during the walk?  It’s true, I do have cancer. But I may have had it for a while and without a fancy genetic test, I may not have even ever known about it.  Maybe it would have turned into something bigger, or maybe not.  Who knows. But my fancy genetic test gave me the choice to make a decision about my future.  My fancy genetic test helped me start screening which ultimately found the cancer.  I had a choice in all of this.  I feel extremely fortunate to have this choice but I know many other people who develop cancer did not have this choice.  The genetic test ultimately has saved my life.   So this brings up the question, will I be considered a cancer ‘survivor’ after my stomach is removed?  Or what about the majority of CDH1 mutation carriers whose endoscopy didn’t detect any cancer but once the stomach was removed there was cancer present?  Are these people survivors as well?

I’ve hummed and hawed around this question a lot and I have personally decided that yes we are all survivors.  Science is amazing and it allowed us to have choices.  I feel that this sort of thing will likely happen a lot more as we become more advanced with research and more common in preventing lethal diseases.  Just because we were able to find out ahead of time , I think that having a major surgery to remove one of your organs, and having to live with that new life for the rest of your life should definitely qualify.   Not to mention all of the screening for the other cancers as well in the future.  In addition, I feel like the psychological component of having this gene can be fairly stressful at times and that should not be underestimated.  Your brain can play wild tricks on you if you let it!  Sure my cancer story is different but cancer is cancer and it’s scary no matter how bad it is!

After all that being said, I did let my co-worker honour me for the walk.  Mostly because I need to stop denying what I have and accept that I have cancer no matter how big or small. I also wanted to raise awareness for the CDH1 gene mutation and that stomach cancer affects young people as well as older people.

The walk will occur on June 6-7th, 2014. This will be about three and a half weeks after my surgery. I’m not sure if I will be able to walk this year but next year…Will I participate in the first walk of the race (the survivor lap) and wear the survivor coloured t-shirt as opposed to the regular t-shirt?  Yes, because I think we are all survivors and we should be proud to tell our tale.

On the road to weight gain

Since setting my surgery date, I have been mowing down on lots of great food.  I am a person who usually watches what they eat and be really health conscious.  I few posts ago I mentioned I weight around 125lbs and I’m 5’2.  People are surprised that I weight so much, but it’s because I’m solid muscle!!! Joking.   I currently sit at 128lbs.  This is a tough thing for me to swallow (no pun intended).  I feel good sitting around 120-123lbs.  My pants are now getting tighter around the waist. I really don’t want to have to buy larger clothing though because I will have to replace most of my wardrobe when my weight levels out.  *fingers crossed I don’t need to replace my Lululemon* .  Which brings me to a little side note: I have forced myself to cut back on buying clothing over the past few months. This is really sad since I looovveee shopping!!!

Brandon and I joke about how much weight can I really gain before surgery.  I told him that most people will lose 15-20% of their body weight with this surgery.  He did some mental math and told me that I should be 144lbs before the surgery.  Never in my life have I been 144lbs.   A few weeks after testing positive for the CDH1 mutation, he brought home a half a dozen Cinnabon’s.  I ate maybe one and a half, he ate the rest.  At this rate, I’m thinking he will end up gaining some sympathy weight.

I also really like going to the gym.  Since setting my surgery date, I’ve had some back and forth debates with myself about how often I should be going.  Going to the gym has now become a double edged sword.  From my physio training, I know that the stronger you are going into surgery, the better your outcome will be.  But I don’t want to be losing weight (such a hard concept for me to accept).  So I’ve decided that a healthy dose of one hour weight lifting group exercise classes, combined with fun Zumba a few times a week will probably do the trick.  I also know that I won’t be able to do some of my high impact cardio classes (like step, and body attack) after surgery and I’m not sure how long it will take to get back to them…or if I will even be able to go back to them.  So I’ll throw some of those in the mix too because I am the type of person who needs to work out to the point of total fatigue or I feel like I didn’t work out hard enough.  Now that I’ve said this, I have to stick to it.

Just under three months until my surgery.  The race is on!  Oh and if any of you guys want to go out for dinner with me. You know I’ll be game!!

I saw this quote today on Nostomachforcancer's web page and though it was appropriate

Stomach love!!

I have slowly been spreading news to my family and friends about what I have been going though.  More recently, mom and I decided that it would be appropriate to let the rest of the family and her friends to let them know about what was going on now that I have more definite answers as well as a surgical date.

Since today is about love, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about the people who I love and love me in my life.  I have been overwhelmed by the amount of love and support offered by friends and family over the past few months.  I have had some nice phone conversations family and friends I haven’t seen in a while.  I’ve received positive words and encouragement from many.  I don’t really like to be the centre of attention so this is a little overwhelming but much appreciated.  The other day my best childhood friend send me a bouquet of flowers which was so thoughtful and really unexpected!

My work has been so understanding.  This has been a huge asset because it means I have one less thing to stress about in my life.  There have been so many days where I have had to ask for a day off with a few days notice.  They have let me know that I can still apply for future new job positions knowing that I will be going off later this year.   They let me know that they will modify my duties so I can have a quick return to work.  They have been just fantastic.

My mom has come to every single appointment with me. It has been really nice to have someone to travel with and have a second set of ears to hear what I may have missed during the appointments.  It’s also nice to have someone to relate with right there! To avoid mom getting teary eyed reading this part. I will stop there. Love you mom!

I can’t forget to talk about Brandon. He has been so supportive during this whole ordeal.  He’s heard me talk about the same things over, and over, and over again.  He’s going to be taking a few weeks off of work to help with my recovery at home.  He has come to every appointment he has been able to and then has to head back to work right after them.  Marriage is for better or worse, in sicker and in health.  This has been just one hurdle that we will clear together and win the race!  I’m not a mushy person, he knows how much he is loved and appreciated.  I hope he still loves me after being my personal butler when I’m recovering…haha.

There are so many people I could mention in this blog but you know who you are!  Thank you to all my friends and family for being there. The love and support that I have received is amazing and I feel stronger just having all of you in my life.

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p.s. that stomach in the photo is not mine. Yay google images!!

Today is my lucky day!

For some reason my last post, posted before I was done and it was in rough draft format so I apologize if it didn’t make sense!  But let’s start from the beginning of the day.

My appointment with the gastroenterologist was for 9am at Princess Margaret Hospital.  This is a center that specializes in cancer.  It is right next to Mount Sinai which is fantastic and really convenient because that is where all my other specialist appointments take place (genetic councellor, dietitian, fertility).  My mom came by my house at 6:30am and we drove off to catch the train into Toronto.  Just before we got onto the highway, we saw the traffic backing up and decided to do a quick detour and go the opposite direction and take some back roads to the train station.  Good move for us because later I found out the highway was closed due to a tractor trailer roll over and a fuel spill.  It snarled up most of the morning commute.  We would have missed our appointment if we didn’t take the detour.  But, we arrived at the train station right on time to buy our tickets and jump on the train.  Lucky event #1.

Once we arrived in Toronto we had to take the subway to get to the hospital.  At this time we were right in the heart of the morning rush.  There were masses of people going here and there.  We shuffled through the crowds to the subway and got on.  We were going to meet Brandon at the hospital (he worked during the morning and had time in the middle of the day to come to my appointments before going back to work).  We thought he was going to just make the appointment on time.  When we got off the subway, we happened to run into Brandon, who had also just arrived at the hospital.  He happened to spot us in the crowd.  He made it with ample time. Lucky event #2.

I just want to add an aside that today was the first day I actually felt nervous about what was going on.   I woke up at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I laid in bed doing my usual strategies to fall asleep (deep breathing, counting sheep, and visioning a seed in the ground waiting for it to grow – which usually works because it is soo boring).   Eventually it was 5am and I decided it was acceptable to get up.  Lucky for me, the Olympic Women’s Halfpipe Qualfiers were streaming live on TV so I had something to entertain myself before my mom came to get me. Lucky event #3.  I think I was so nervous because I knew today was the end of the line for appointments. Today would be the day we would set the big date!

After signing in at the check in desk at the GI clinic at Princess Margaret, I waited with my posse (mom, and Brandon) and watched the Olympics on the T.V until we were called in.  We were greeted with the gastroenterologist who let us know we would be meeting with her Fellow before speaking with her.  That was great because we were able to ask all our questions about the surgery and recovery and not feel pressured for time.   The Fellow asked if we had anything big coming up in our lives and I mentioned that we had a trip to Japan planned but that I was also willing to cancel it if there was urgency for the surgery.

When all our questions were answered the Fellow left the room to the gastroenterologist up to speed and both came back into the room.  Oh and they also brought a medical resident.  So it was like a big party in a small room.  We CDH1 mutation people must make interesting cases!

I asked the gastroenterologist about the differences between doing it in Hamilton vs. Toronto and after discussion we all agreed it was better in Toronto for a few reasons.  The clinical team is more specalised in working with people with CDH1 mutations.  The pathologist has more training in examining my stomach after it has been removed.  My data can help out with future research with CDH1 mutation.  Just to name a few.

Now onto timing, the gastroenterologist assured me that I would be okay to go to Japan from a medical perspective but if it’s too hard to handle psychologically, I could have the surgery sooner.  All the stomachs that she has removed prophylactically have had no more than T1a stage cancer with no lymph node involvement.  Nobody has needed chemo or radiation. Some had early cancer on biopsy and others did not.  She also said we could do a CT scan on my abdomen and pelvis as another screen to ensure that there isn’t anything worse in my stomach that we don’t know about.  After some discussion, she decided to see what she could line up and left the room with all her posse.  After about 10 minutes the Fellow returned with a requisition for a CT scan.  She told us to go to Mount Sinai to get one done and then come back and we can discuss further.  Mom and I were both floored at the speed I could get a CT scan and also get back to talk to her.  Yet again, another reason why CDH1 gives you the fast lane card.  I have patients that wait 3 months or more just to get a CT scan on their bodies.  Lucky event #4.

Brandon, mom and I walked over to Mount Sinai to the imaging department.  At this point, I had to cancel my dietitian appointment because there was no way I was going to make it.  I was brought into the CT scan waiting area and told to drink 1 litre of water over the next hour because they were going to inject dye through my veins via IV so they could be viewed during the CT scan.  Oh yay, another IV!

So I sat in the waiting room, drinking my giant glass of water, and watched the Women’s Halfpipe Semi-finals on the T.V.  Yay for Olympic entertainment! Brandon and Mom waited in the main waiting area.  After 1 hour, I was called into the CT scan room and gowned up.  Now the fun part begins.

I warned the technician that she would likely have a hard time getting the IV in.  Again, I had to explain why I was there. People are always shocked to hear why you are there getting these procedures.  I guess it is shocking, but I’ve come to terms with it. I’ve gotten my schpeel down to an oscar length speech now.

Poke, Poke, Poke….lots of apologies from the tech. Miss vien, try again, miss again.  Try again…bingo! Huzzah!  A big bruise likely awaits. If I have one tomorrow, I’ll post a picture.  The IV wasn’t even the worst part. Then, I had to get IV dye into my system, along with meds to make it so my stomach wouldn’t spasm during the procedure. That was a cake walk.  Next the horrible, horrible, gas pills.

I wouldn’t even call them pills.  It’s like trying to take a shot glass full of sour cinnamon and then if that wasn’t bad enough, it explodes into fizz as soon as you put water on it to swallow it down.  But wait, that’s not all. You get to do it twice!!  Oh and did I mention, you aren’t allowed to burp.

After the gas pills, the CT scan started. I was lying on a bed with my arms overhead and I went in and out of the machine.  The whole scan took less than 5 minutes which was great because I really wasn’t comfortable.  Once it was done, I sat up and had the best belch ever.

Then it was back to Mount Sinai.  We met back up with the gastroenterologist.  Now the part that you are all waiting for.  When is the surgery?!?!?!? Drum roll please…..

May 14th, 2014

The CT scan was normal.  She assured us that time isn’t a huge issue and that May 14th is good.  She said she may also be able to move it up if someone cancels after we get back from Japan (April 12).

So that’s my day in a nutshell.  Not really a long story short but I know there were a bunch of people who wanted to know all the details.  I am happy I can go to Japan. I am relieved that this cancer wasn’t a huge issue to the gastroenterologist in Toronto.  I’m glad I can finish my snowboarding season.  I feel good that there is a surgical date set.

Oh and just to top the day off. Mom and I made it off the subway, ran to the train and made it in just as the doors were closing. Lucky event #5!

Next appointment will be fertility – Feb 26th.

P.S. I also got my giant bowl of ramen after all my appointments were completed today.  Sorry, Steve, I should have taken a picture!!

P.P.S.  If you want to follow my blog, you can get email notifications if you sign up on the right hand side of the page. I have had a few friends mention to me they were unaware of this so I thought I’d just put it out there.

CDH1 – fast track line to the front!

It’s been four businesses days and I already have an appointment with the gastroenterologist in Toronto. Amazing! I will be meeting her Wed morning to discuss details.  I should have a lot more information and maybe a surgical date set on Wed.  I think my genetic counsellor pulled some strings with her people at the hospital.

I’m happy I was booked in so fast but also makes me think that if they could get me in so fast, this cancer is pretty serious stuff.  More reason to have the stomach out ASAP. I’m not interested in being a walking time bomb anymore.

I was also able to move up my dietician appointment to the same day (previously March 12 as well).  I’m all about efficiency so fewer trips to Toronto and less time off work the better!

On a side note, there is an awesome ramen place near the hospital.  Of course I will be eating there after my appointments!

More to come later.

The race is on!

Since being diagnosed with cancer (that sounds really weird to say), I have been making some phone calls to see which surgeon can get me in fastest.  The gastroenterologist in Hamilton may be able to get me in as early as Feb 24th.  My genetic counsellor is from Toronto and is recommending that I consult with that surgeon prior to making the final decision.  She has been doing prophylactic gastrectomies for CDH1 carriers for the past 3-4 years and has done over 20 to date.

My original appointment with the gastroenterologist in Toronto was on March 12. At first this seemed reasonable but now with this diagnosis it seems too far away. My genetic counsellor has spoke with the surgeon and they are going to try get me in sooner. At this point I’m waiting for the office to call me back. I hope to have an appointment booked by next week and a surgical date booked by next week as well.

I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of this situation.  I have remained as positive as I can about this whole adventure.  But I won’t lie, there are times where it’s upsetting to know what has happened. Am I scared? Yes, sometimes I think about the worst outcome (on surgery they find that the cancer is more spread then we had thought, and it has invaded my lymph nodes…at that point I may need chemo and radiation).  However, I am someone who believes that you have a choice on how you can feel about things, and I choose to take each piece of news with as much positivity as I can.  I could look at this whole journey so far and be upset about everything, but that won’t change the outcome.  So you mine as well stay positive!

The chance is low that I will need chemo and radiation, but we can’t be 100% sure until the surgery.  When I’m on the table, the gastroenterologist  will see if the cancer has invaded my lymph nodes.  Brandon worries that the cancer could be more widespread than we had thought because it is not common to find the signet cells on biopsy and it was found.  Some people just have only this on the final pathological report once their stomach has been analyzed.  Others have had negative biopsies and more advanced cancer.  Others just have a few other areas of microscopic cancer.  So it’s really all up in the air at this point.  There won’t be a true answer what I have until after my stomach is out.  Your mind is a wonderful thing, but it can play some pretty mean tricks on you if you let it!

Knowing that I could be having surgery within the next month or so is a crazy thing.  I have been thinking about everything I do in my life and how it will change after surgery.  For instance, I won’t be able to lift anything heavy for 12 weeks post op.  When Brandon and I was at the grocery store last night, I was carrying all our items in a basket.  He asked me if he could carry it because it was getting pretty heavy. I didn’t let him though, because I wanted to keep lifting as much as I could while I still can (even if that meant a little struggling at the end of the shop – I didn’t let it show though!!)  I also have been maximizing my weekends doing as many active things as I can because that will be something else I’ll have to build back up to doing.  I’m going to try get to the ski hill as possible! I’m missing my baseball season so I CAN’T miss all of my snowboarding season!!!

I think the thing I am most worried about after surgery is the weight loss I will experience.  Most people lose about 15-20lbs post surgery.  I am a healthy 125lbs at this point in time.  I am 5’2 with an athletic build.  I have a crazy fast metabolism.  It’s scary to think that I could drop down to 105lbs.  So for the next few weeks I’m going to gain as much weight as I can.  I never thought I would ever say that in my life!

Telling my friends has been a difficult thing. Most people are shocked that, ‘oh you have cancer!?!?!’.  I do my best to reassure them that it’s very microscopic and contained. It may have been like that for years and it may stay that way.  I’m not dying.  It has been caught super early.  I just have to act on it now because we don’t know the catalyst that will make it spread.  Overall, I don’t really like telling people I have cancer because I don’t want them to feel sorry for me.  But, I think talking about it helps me accept the realism of the situation.

So the race is on…what ever surgeon can get me in first will be the one who does the surgery.  I still want to go to Japan at the end of March, but it’s not looking so good at this point.  We will see!!

The needle in the haystack

Today has been a wild day.  We were hit with a big snow storm that dropped around a foot of snow over a 12 hour period.  Today was also the day I met up with my gastroenterologist to discuss the results of my latest endoscopy (taken Jan 14) and the pathological report.

Blog over. Just kidding!

My mom was with me during the appointment.  The gastroenterologist opened my file and started the meeting, “we are here to discuss the pathological report of your recent repeat endoscopy.  I took a million biopsies.”  Me being a gullible person replied, “Wow really? That’s awesome”.  She was like, “no, I’m just kidding”.  I then realized now unrealistic it would have been to take one million biopsies. Haha.  She then went on to let me know that she took as many as she could in a half hour period (which turned out to be around 50).  She took biopsies from various parts of my stomach.  She read the article that I had emailed to her previous to doing the repeat biopsy and took more samples from areas she would have normally not taken from.

Then the news came.  We found two areas of carcinoma in your stomach.  One in the proximal fundus stomach of the stomach and one at the gastroesophageal junction of the stomach side.  They are very small and contained.  I asked her what classification of cancer it was, and she said ‘Tis’.  For those who don’t know about the stages of cancer (I also didn’t know until about 7 hours ago), I have attached a chart and diagram below regarding the stages of cancer as well as a diagram outlining what she found.  It was taken from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/gastroenterology_hepatology/_pdfs/esophagus_stomach/gastric_cancer.pdf

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Table 1.
TNM System for Staging Gastric Cancer
Primary tumor (T):
Tis = carcinoma in situ: intraepithelial tumor with
out invasion of lamina propria
T1 = tumor invades lamina propria or submucosa
T2 = tumor invades muscularis propria or subserosa
T3* = tumor penetrates serosa (visceral peritoneum)
without invasion of adjacent structures

T4**,*** = tumor invades adjacent structure

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My initial reaction was, ‘AMAZING! You found it!’.  One research article I read said that to have at 90% chance of finding the signet ring cells, you would have to take 1760 biopsies, which is unrealistic. I wanted to give her a high five but thought that was a little unprofessional.  I was fairly certain that there would be cancer in my stomach once removed but there was always a little bit of doubt in the back of my mind.  It sounds weird but I was actually really relieved.  I knew that I would be upset if my stomach was removed and nothing was found on the pathological report. This just confirmed my decision to have my stomach removed.  Also the decision has now been made for me that I should get my stomach out now vs. later.  The gastroenterologist was just as amazed that something came up on the pathology report because from what she saw in the endoscopy, everything was normal.  Who would expect a 29 year old to have stomach cancer?

My genetic counsellor and my gastroenterologist have been in talks (without me knowing).  They have also consulted with the gastroenterologist in Toronto who did my mom’s surgery (and will likely do mine).  They were waiting for me to have a face to face appointment to have the diagnosis delivered.  I have emailed my genetic counsellor to discuss the next steps.  Whoever can get me into the operating room first will likely be the surgeon who does my operation.   Could be soon, could be later. I’m not messing with this cancer.

I am still in awe that she found the cancer cells. I feel like my gastroenterologist should go buy a lottery ticket tonight.

Sunday thoughts

Back in December, when I received the diagnosis, the thought of having HDGC consumed my mind.  I would think about it multiple times a day and every free moment I had, I was doing research and reading journal articles about the CDH1 gene mutation, prophylactic gastrectomy, lobular breast cancer, etc.  Now, I can go a day or two without thinking much about it, unless its the week leading up to a specialist appointment (like this week, hence the blog entry…haha).

I am currently waiting to be contacted by women who have had a child post total gastrectomy so I can gather as much information to make the most informed decision about the timing of my total gastrectomy.  I am a person who gathers as much information as possible before making a big decision.  For instance, I did about a month or two of research before upgrading my cell phone….andriod…iphone…andriod….iphone.   Babies seem to be on the brain for the past few weeks, I’m sure it’s because most of my female friends are pregnant or have children.  I was not planning on having kids this soon in the game but obviously circumstances have changed.   It may also be because our consult with the fertility doctor has been booked for the end of this month.

The Bucket List

There were just a few things on my bucket list which all seemed to happen within the last year or had been planned before receiving my diagnosis.

1) Snowboard on Whistler/Blackcomb

Ever since I was 15 years old, I’ve wanted to go snowboarding at Whistler Mountain.  That happened in March of last year with my family.  It was an awesome trip!!

My cousin and me on Whistler

My cousin and me on Whistler

2) Run a 5km  race

I am not a runner. I don’t enjoy running very much, but I do it because it provides a great cardiovascular work out.  I much prefer jumping around in a group exercise class with the music pumping for an hour.  That being said, for the past 10  years, I have always wanted to complete a 5km race.  I thought it would be a good goal to meet and a reason to keep exercising.

In Dec 2012, Brandon and I ran in a 5km fun Santa Jingle.  You run fully dressed in a santa suit in the winter.  My goal was to just run the whole thing….I ran it in 31.17.  Last year, my goal was to run it in under 30 minutes.  Not only did I run it in under 30, but some how I also managed to place in my age category.  So I received a sweet Santa Jingle medal.  That was just the icing on the cake!

3) Go to Japan

I’ve also always wanted to go to Japan to learn more about my ancestry.  Last summer, my friend announced that he would be celebrating his marriage in Japan.  So we will be travelling with a large group of my friends to Japan at the end of March to the beginning of April for two weeks of fun filled tourism!  We will go to Kyoto, Hiroshima, Saga, and of course, Tokyo!

Flights were booked before Christmas and  we just booked our hotels last night which makes things even more exciting.

That was pretty much everything on my bucket list.  On a side note: Brandon thinks I need to make a bigger list.  But I find it’s funny how those three things had been on my list for so long and just happen to all been planned or completed before receiving my diagnosis.

This will be an excuse to start a new bucket list for after post total gastrectomy.