Cancer Free!

The surgery itself went well. It went a bit longer than expected. They estimated 6-8 hours, and it ended up taking closer to 12. I lost a lot of blood and was given a lot of fluids to replace it (I came out weighing 18 pounds more than when I went in). But for the most part there weren’t any real complications.
The surgeons ended up doing exactly what they planned to do. I had a radical hysterectomy (including the ovaries)- which was no big deal since none of those parts worked after the initial rounds of radiation I did back in February. They also removed an entire chain of lymph nodes and some surrounding tissue, my entire vagina, urethra, and bladder. There was nothing wrong with the urethra or bladder, they just happened to be in the way. After they took everything out and tested all the margins to ensure they got all the known cancer (which they did, yay!), they did radiation directly into my body cavity, along my pelvic wall. This was an attempt to get any cancer that they couldn’t see. Then the urologist came in and rerouted my urinary tract. I now have a urostomy, which is a bag that hangs from my belly and collects urine. Here’s a pretty good explanation:
Then a plastic surgeon came in and recreated my vagina using the left half of my ab muscles and the skin that covers them. Imagine a six pack on my stomach. My new vagina is made up of the top two left cans in my six pack (from the outside everything looks normal down in my lady parts). They then had to stretch my skin to cover the missing part on my belly- and as you know, I’m not a large person, so there was a lot of stretching that had to be done! This was one moment in my life when I wish that I was a little chubby. Extra skin would have been super nice right then. I have a scar that runs down the middle of my abdomen from just between my boobs, down around my belly button and into my pubic hair.
As for recovery, things are going pretty well. I spent 16 days in the Mayo Clinic and a few extra days in Rochester after I was discharged. I was admitted to the hospital in StLouis a couple weeks after I got back for dehydration and constipation. I also got a blood transfusion while I was there. That was last week. Since then, things are going fairly well. My appetite is hit or miss and I have 15-20 pounds to gain. I’m down to about 115. In June, I weighed about 130… so there’s some perspective. I’m skinny and it’s driving me nuts!!! I sleep a lot, but I’m not taking my pain meds nearly as often as I was even last week, so that’s good. It’s slow going for sure, but I feel better every day and that’s a good thing.

As of today, I am cancer free. I feel cancer free too! I don’t know if you remember, but after my first round of treatment, I still had a feeling that it was in there lurking. I hope that this is the end of my journey with cancer in my body and that from here on out it will just be advocacy for me!

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19 thoughts on “Cancer Free!

  1. Steven Calcaterra says:

    Keep up the good work getting better. Hope to see you next week. We love you.

  2. Marina says:

    I love you. You’re so amazing and strong. Body and Mind.

  3. Libby Borchardt-Allen says:

    That’s the most harrowing thing I’ve ever read that was nonficition!!! LOL Ok, I must say it… I know what your six pack abs looked like… you’re gonna have one STRONG vagina!!! šŸ˜€ You amaze me, woman!!!! You’re a super star!!!!!!!!!!!! The girls have to get you together and FEED you !!! šŸ˜‰

  4. says:

    That’s wonderful news!!!! Now, you have to do something to treat yourself!!
    Lisa Kozlin

    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  5. Amanda says:

    This is such good news, Kelly!! I’m so glad you’re on the mend!! I’ll be in St. Louis near the middle of January, I believe. If you’re feeling up to it….I’d love to see you again!! Keep your head up, continue to know it’s a process that’s only going to get better, and stay strong!!

  6. Dianne says:

    You are in my thoughts and prayers. Cancer free…..Hallelujah!

  7. Pam Kresse says:

    From a complete stranger and cancer survivor: Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. The worst is over and now it’s one step at a time so you and your brand-new vagina can go out in the world and be strong!! You are an inspiration and I am so glad you shared your story…stay well Kelly!

  8. Wow, what a process!!! Thank you for sharing because I have NEVER known what happens during these types of surgeries. I’m so glad you’re cancer free!!


    Sunny and Take Back Teal

  9. Barb Van Dine says:

    You are one AMAZING person. I’m so glad I had the honor of meeting you at Christine’s Popsmear Concert. I have followed your journey and will continue to do so. Continue your amazing recovery. I will keep you in my prayers. Hugs

  10. exiledtyke says:

    Woo-hoo! Delighted for you.

  11. scooter with first descents says:

    Sunny, we’re all cheering you on and constantly impressed and amazed at your strength. Get well and see you at FD2 this summer?

  12. Jenna Mallett says:

    I am so happy to hear this. I have been amazed by your grace and smile through this ordeal. I read you are a teacher. If you ever want to come help out in my classroom let me know, I know if I had to be away from my classroom I would miss being around learning, so the door is open girlie, just let me know.

  13. Merrill says:

    Heavens. You’ve been to hell and back. We are so happy that you can feel it, the cancer-freedom. Love, Merrill

  14. Leanne says:

    My mom went through a very similar radical surgery and reconstruction 20 years ago to save her life from advanced colon cancer. Not an easy road to recovery at all but she’d say it was well worth it for the last 20 years of life. My mom talks to people in our local hospital who are going through similar things, I hope you have resources like her to lean on. I’d be happy to put you in touch with her if you don’t, or just want a strangers

  15. Keesha Kitterman says:

    I am so happy for you!!! Love the news that you are now cancer free!! As a survivor I am so relieved to find out this amazing news! I have posted on here before and think about your journeym often and I am so happy you have shared with the world. If I may ask, when you were diagnosed in the begining, was a radical hysterectomy not recommended by your oncologist? When I was diagnosed, that is immediately what was recommended and I was able to have the surgery right away, and luckily we caught it right in time. I cannot wait to hear about the rest of your recovery. I hope you continue to heal and get to get back to normal life after this chapter. My prayers and thoughts are with you!!!

    • kpozzoli says:

      A radical hysterectomy was recommended until they found the cancer in my lymph nodes. The standard of care then becomes the radiation and chemo that I got. 2012 has definitely been one of the craziest years of my life. Starting with the nightmarish (at the time) thought that I would lose my uterus all the way up to the surgery I just had. With any luck 2012 will keep it all and from here on out it’s smooth sailing šŸ™‚

      Glad to hear your journey has been a good one. That gives me hope.

      • Keesha Kitterman says:

        That makes sense now, I was wondering, so I thought I would ask. I am so happy for you and will continue to think of you and pray for you. I just finished writing a speech I am doing for one of my college course on the benefits of the Garadsil vaccination. I am guessing since we are close to the same age this was not something available to you either and now I feel very strongly young girls must have this. In my speech I gave my testimony, but I feel like if they could hear your story they would beg for that vaccination! I hope 2013 brings on an amazing new begining for you!!

      • kpozzoli says:

        Please feel free to share any part of my story that you think may benefit people. My journey has been such a nightmare, and I hope beyond hope that somehow it helps as many people as possible.

  16. Marla Hall says:

    Mrs. Kelly, I think you are an amazing woman! Since the first time I saw your story on the Jeff Probst show and reading your blog. I pray for you often, You are a strong person and inspiring at the same time. Thank you for being so detailed and open about a very personal tough time. I describe your spirit to people as a beaming sun that lights up. Keep smiling and being who you are.Much love, Marla šŸ™‚

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