So we were at what you could call “rock bottom” that night in bed as we just laid with each other and tried to wrap our heads around the entire situation. I think that actually made things worse because the more we thought about everything, the more difficult it was to understand. The most difficult time in those few days was easily that first night we were home. It was 2:41am and I woke up to a very unusual sound and I couldn’t figure out what it was but when I did my heart hit the floor. I got up out of bed and walked quickly towards the familiar glow of our master bathroom light to find Lindsay sitting in the bathroom, head buried in her hands, sobbing almost uncontrollably. I wanted to throw up, I wanted to scream at God for putting my young and growing family through such pain and I wanted to take all the hurt, all the disease from my wife and carry the burden for her but I could not. I couldn’t do anything but hug her and hold her tight and tell her “It’ll all be alright, it has to be because we were meant to be together for forever.” That’s all I could do and that sucks, it still hurts my heart to think that I can’t do anything other than be strong for her, love her as hard as I can each day, tend to her in time of need and pray for her as much as I can. The uncontrollability of it all is probably the most difficult of it all for us which is why we came to the conclusion that you can’t make sense of these type of things, you can’t understand or answer the “Why?” questions, in fact you can’t really do much of anything but come to peace with it and fight your ass off to show that you don’t really need to answer those questions. Regardless, that was much easier said than done and we were both pretty distraught for the next 24-48 hours.
Three days after we met with our doctors, we had our gender reveal party scheduled–it had been set for over a month so there was quite a few people who were coming. We REALLY struggled with the thought of having such a party so close to receiving such devastating news but we ultimately decided that maybe, just maybe, if we enjoy a time of such celebration and joy with the most beloved people in our lives that we could begin to heal, so we moved forward with the party just a few days removed from our news. Let me take this time to thank a few people who helped pull of such a beautiful party on such short notice.
Thank you to my mother-in-law and father-in-law, my Mom and Dad, my brother and sister-in-law, my sister and brother, our friends Cara and Dave, Matt and Kendra, Sam and Michael and everyone else (I inevitably forgot someone who Lindsay will “remind” me about tomorrow 🙂 ) that helped make the party possible. It truly made a HUGE difference in our mental recovery and was absolutely perfect as we were surrounded by our closest friends, family and daycare families. Thank you to all of you whom attended, as it was just as we asked; a time for celebration and joy and not a time to discuss the looming health concerns for our family. You gave a day of pure joy when it was most needed and we are truly grateful for that!
If you can’t tell, we made the right decision to suck it up and have our party and it was an awesome way to spend our Saturday before Mother’s day. We spent a wonderful and social Mother’s Day traveling between my parents’ house and my in-laws’ house before gearing up for our Tuesday meeting with our medical team in which we’d devise our game plan going forward. We brought along our support system that consisted of both sets of our parents and Linds and I to our appointment in Peoria in Dr. Leonardi’s office. We had decided before going that we didn’t want to know the results of the MRI and CT scans that had been performed the day prior because the results do nothing for us but add stress to our fight and to our pregnancy and we didn’t want that. We decided our priority at this point in time was to keep our mental spirits high so we can focus on fighting with as much positivity as we can which would in turn be the best possible approach for our baby. Some people wouldn’t agree with this approach, and again, that’s fine and you’re entitled to your opinion but keep in mind everyone functions differently and this is the decision we made to best fit us and our fight. We all followed the receptionist to the end of that long, wide hallway that we had walked just a week prior until we came to the end of the hallway and were directed into a conference room. Our families sat down at the table and patiently awaited the doctors, as they had warned of a possible delay or early start to our meeting due to being in and out of surgeries that day. We sat quietly, not knowing what to expect in the coming conversations; not knowing how to deal with such a looming game plan about to be relayed to us. Much to our pleasure, they all showed up early and introduced themselves to our parents, attendees were Dr. Ladanyi (gynecological oncologist), Dr. Leonardi (High-Risk OB), Dr. Leonardi’s practicing nurse, Beth, Dr. LoCoco’s nurse, Tammi, and a woman from family services who was there to offer professional support for our families if we needed it.
They all took their seats and we got started by Lindsay and I announcing our decision to not wanting to know the results of the MRI or CT scans and that we just wanted to devise a treatment plan and discuss the possible risks. You could tell the doctors were a little taken aback by this and knew they’d have to reword/rephrase a lot of their prepared statements regarding treatment due to this but they were, and always have been, very supportive of our decisions and reinforce that we are in charge of our journey very regularly which has been awesome. Dr. Leonardi spoke first and gave us his thoughts on possible delivery scenarios but admitted that we are going to have to take this a week at a time, monitoring the health of Lindsay and baby Joey (we call our son Joey because in his 4-D imaging he looked like our malti-poo, Joey 🙂 ) and constantly adjusting our obstetrics plan as we go along. Basically our birth could be by cesarean anywhere between weeks 29-36 or possibly even natural birth, depending on how our battle plays out and how Linds’ body responds to the treatments laid forth by Dr. Ladanyi.
Dr. Ladanyi followed Dr. Leonardi and echoed his sentiments that this will be a very closely monitored medical case, as it is incredibly rare. We were actually only the 4th documented and studied case of a pregnant woman contracting small cell ovarian cancer! He did do a ton of research and came up with a treatment regimen that consisted of one week on, two weeks off with 5 treatments during our “on” weeks until the baby got here, then we’d step up the chemo to more intensive drugs. The chemotherapy drugs of choice for these cycles are Cisplatin(um) and Etoposide. They are both peritoneal targeting drugs that were the best balance between effective treatment drugs and pose the most minimal risk to baby Joey. Notice I said most minimal, Dr. Leonardi said it best when he said “It’s not like we have a bunch of pregnant women running around testing the effects of different chemo regimens on their pregnancy.” This was mostly a very, very educated decision that was the most balanced plan we could have between safe pregnancy and long-term treatment help/impact for Linds. We had also decided that we would start this Cisplatin/Etoposide Monday-Friday outpatient treatment regimen on the following day, which fell on a Wednesday. Due to the start date for this first cycle being a Wednesday, we would only get outpatient on Wednesday and Thursday, as we would check in for in-patient treatment and mediport placement on Friday and stay until Sunday. Got that? Out-patient on Wednesday and Thursday at the Peoria Cancer Center but then in-patient for port placement on Friday and then stay there until Sunday to complete the first cycle. Thank the Lord this is the only time (knock on wood) that we will have to do in-patient treatment because hospital stays suck! Heck, chemo just sucks in general but that will have to wait until next time as I’m falling in and out of sleep writing this. At least we had our plan in place, we had our immediate path paved and we could finally take our next step forward, it was a scary step–some would say terrifying but we had each other and we would get through it together and with the love, support and prayers of all our beloved friends and family!