Nothing is Impossible

If you say never then there is no room for maybe. -me

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The News That Hit...HARD!

ON Thursday morning, I sat in a doctor’s office waiting for her to give me the news that she said “isn’t good.” And as she uttered the words “brain tumor,” the very words I knew in the back of my mind, my heart broke. And as this eclectic, very smart, but unique Neurologist continued typing her notes about this visit, her dog sitting in the exam room with us, I turned to my high school sweet heart, fighting back the tears and whispered “why am I not waking up?”
Words like “so young” and “cancer” floated around that office and it suddenly made sense why the technicians and nurses who I’d seen over the last few days treated me so softly but yet so distant.
I just celebrated my 30th birthday, ran 6 miles two days before and took my 4 and 2 year old to a farm for pony rides. I wasn’t supposed to be sitting in a neurologist’s office being told I’m going to have to undergo brain surgery, and maybe chemo therapy and radiation. This all was wrong, but I couldn’t deny that it, in fact, was not a dream and was very much real and very much terrifying.

Just in case you are wondering, no this is NOT fiction, it is terribly real.

On Sunday night I was working at good ol’ Spag. I had taken a very large party by myself and had finally had a chance to breathe. My guests had their entrees, refills and more bread and I had to pee. I raced upstairs just as IT happened again, only this time more severe.

I’ll explain what “IT” is. For the last couple of years, every now and then while on runs, my hearing would start acting weird. All the sounds I was hearing at first would become distant and almost like they were at the end of a tunnel. For lack of a better word, my ears would “ring,” and I would sometimes hear my own thoughts louder but unintelligible. Then parts of my body would feel disconnected and my own bodily sounds, such as breathing, footsteps and my pulse would become amplified. This would last anywhere from 1 minute to 5. If I caught it soon enough and started deep breathing quickly I could make it go away sooner, but either way I would continue on my run. As I said, this happened sporadically and quite randomly and mostly while running. At a physical back in January I asked the PA about it and she didn’t seem too concerned but said I should maybe go see an ENT MD. And because she didn’t seem too worried about it and, as life tends to be, I was busy enough with every day things that I never made that appointment. Darn it!!!

So when it happened again at work on Sunday, only worse, I became a little worried. The usual amplified hearing, ringing and unintelligible words started and my vision became odd, almost like I had tunnel vision but not quite. I finished in the ladies room and went downstairs. I went back out to my table and attempted to take ice-cream orders. As I was asking “vanilla or spumoni” things sounded weird to me and I wasn’t entirely sure if spumoni and vanilla were even the right words. One woman began telling me something about the dessert but I couldn’t fully understand exactly what she was saying. I asked her to repeat herself but I still couldn’t understand her. I tried to answer what I though was her question but I couldn't complete a sentence. I had to tell her “just a moment”, which was all I was able to get out, and I went and hid on the stairs out of view. I breathed deeply and repeated “Help me Heavenly Father, Help me!” I was able pull it together enough to tally up the spumoni and vanilla requests and headed back into the server station. I was grateful l the ice-cream was already scooped for me and I assembled them on a tray. A few of my guests requested chocolate sauce and as I began pouring some on, our food runner, Jason, came over and began asking me questions. Again I couldn’t fully hear or understand him. I knew he was saying something about the chocolate sauce costing extra but when I answered him, apparently incorrectly, he repeated himself, and all I was able to get out was “I dunno.” Jason, I’m sure quite confused, turned and left and that’s when I really began to realize something was wrong. I finished up that table and my coherency became better and though I felt funny I was fully functioning after about 10 minutes. I finished my shift and went home. When I got home and told Jeremy, he too was concerned and he talked about calling someone in the morning. I agreed and decided to finally call that ENT then next day.
That night, as I lay in our dark room listening to Jeremy quietly snore, I became more and more freaked out. Then suddenly it popped in my head that “inability to speak a complete sentence” was a symptom of stroke. I grabbed my android and Googled it. FAST came up, the acronym for symptoms of someone having a stroke. And sure enough the S stood for speech. As I read I became more and more freaked out that I had indeed had a stroke. Eventually at about half past midnight I called my OB and spoke to the Doc on call. She agreed that something was off and I definitely needed to see someone. But since I was fine at that point there wasn’t a need to go to hospital yet and I could wait until morning.
I crawled in bed slightly relieved but still worried and attempted a fruitless effort to sleep. The next day I made an appointment with Dr. Futrell at Intermountain Stoke Center. Tuesday came and I spent all afternoon telling and retelling what had been happening. After 5 hours of talking, waiting and even having a bubble test to see if there was a hole in my heart, thankfully that came back negative, I was sent over to a clinic to have an MRI.

The MRIs, I had two, leads us back to where I began. Back at Dr. Futrell’s office to discuss the results. Incidentally I found out that I am allergic to the dye they inject to create contrast during the MRI. I got a dose of steroids to counteract the allergic reaction, to which Jeremy responded that I should take advantage of being injected with “roids” and do some squats and pull-ups. Haha!

So there it is. The MRIs came back to show that I have a large tumor with a smaller satellite tumor in my brain. The satellite suggests that it is cancerous. I go see a neuro oncologist followed by a neurosurgeon on Tuesday morning and we’ll go from there.

I can’t’ begin to explain all the emotions I have felt this last week. But as you can imagine they are full of terror and great sadness but also something else. What that something else is, I have yet to define. I’ll let you know. But the sadness is mostly for my children. I lost my mother at age 22. Granted I was technically fully grown, but when I look back I know I was still so young. My children, are aged 7, 4.5 and almost 3. Who would take care of them? Their dad is the most amazing man I have ever known and my children are incredibly lucky to have him as their father. I know he is a very capable parent. He has patience for them when I am fresh out. He can play with them for hours at their level and be just as enthused as they are. He teaches them to be strong yet is compassionate when they need him to be. But my children need me just as much as they need him. Everyone needs a mom. Nothing can replace me! And just as much as my children need me my husband needs me. And I need him. I am not ready to leave this world and so I’m not going to. I will live life to the fullest into my late 90s, perhaps longer, and I will show that tumor, cancerous or not, just exactly who I am. I ran the Ragnar hill, without stopping, I survived giving birth to three babies, two of which were natural, and I’ll be damned if I let a little thing such as this take me down (yes I’m being dramatic, I know it’s not so little). But I am in the best shape of my life, I can run a mile in just over 7 minutes, and I average 8 and a half minutes on longer runs, and I sometimes kick Jeremy’s but on our cross fit routines. I have failed and I have succeeded, and I like the feel of the latter better. So I can tell you honestly what will happen. I will have some hard times and some even harder times. I will stare terrifying things in the face and grow from it. I will do this all because I know I can. And God knows I can too. He knows I can handle it because I will have Him and my family by my side. And life will go on. And I will go right along with it!


  1. Amy, I don't even know what to say to this. I'm so sad to hear this! You're absolutely right, you CAN do this.. not because YOU can, but because GOD can. Just remember, when you feel like you have no strength left, it's ok! It's ok, because you aren't reliant on your own strength, but His strength! PLEASE PLEASE let me know if there is anything we can do! Really... anything!!!!

  2. Amy - all I can say right now is how amazing you are! Not many people would stare this tumor in the face and basically tell it to go to hell! And yes through God all things are possible. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. And if you need anything at all - please don't hesitate to ask!

  3. Even though most of our interaction is from running Ragnar together, I know one thing. You are one strong woman. You are the Cyborg! I know you will face this with the same strength and courage as you faced the Ragnar Hill and YOU WILL CONQUER this in the same manner. My prayers will be with you and your family. Amy you are amazing and I have NO doubts you will beat this. May peace be with you.

  4. Amelia, you are so amazing. Every day that I have known you just reinforces that there is good in this world. You and your incredible family shed so much light on this world, so don't you dare leave it. You make everything beautiful. Thanks for making me cry. Again.
    Love you,

  5. Oh my heck i just about bawled my eyes out this morning! I don't even know what to say other then this is some seriously sucky news! You are such an inspiring woman, and you're right, whats cancer when you can run a 7 minute mile?! You will kick this thing in the face and show it whose boss. Glen and I will certainly keep you and your family in our prayers. Stay strong for those babies of yours and when your feeling weak rely on those people that love and care for you. Thinking of you in the coming weeks Amy!

  6. Oh Amy! All my thoughts and prayers are with you this morning as you go through this surgery. May the doctors be blessed and your family comforted.

  7. Best of luck to you. What a shocking thing to discover. Hope your surgery goes off without a hitch today.

  8. Casey sent me. Sending you good thoughts during your surgery that they get it all out and you recover quickly.

  9. My prayers, faint and infrequent as they are, are with you this day.

  10. Came here from MooshInIndy, but couldn't resist commenting. Praying for you and your family from Chicago. You sound like a heck of a woman!!