This One’s a Fighter

I’m working with arguably the best gyn/onc surgeon in the country at one of the best medical facilities in the world.  Two days ago, this doctor looked me in the eye and said, “Well, do you have it in you to fight just one more time?” About a thousand thoughts and emotions raced through and then drained from me.  I felt empty.  My entire world swirled around me and left me sitting there… flat.

The short answer was, yes, I had it in me to fight one more time. And that’s what I said to her. She explained that the cancer is in one lymph node in my pelvic region. This, of course, is where she removed a chain of lymph nodes and radiated four months ago.  This, of course, is the site where the cancer was not supposed to be growing anymore.  And suddenly, there it was.

The rest of the answer was that I was scared. Do I bother looking for a job for next school year? While I’m fairly certain that I will live to see 33, will I live to see 34? I haven’t had kids yet. I don’t like my car. Is it fair to want to move out of my dad’s house? Does it really matter if I do or don’t eat dairy products at this point? I just had 4 surgeons completely mutilate my body, and for what?

The good news in all of this is two-fold.  Number 1: The cancer is still in my pelvis and has not spread.  And number 2 (this part is amazing to me): A few weeks ago I was scheduled to get a CT scan. I had a seemingly irrational outburst days before I was supposed to have it done and decided that I MUST have a PET scan. I would not have a CT. The aforementioned world renowned surgeon recommended a CT, and I challenged her. Not in an aggressive way. Just in a “I’m sure that I will be having a PET scan” way. After some research, I found that a CT only shows masses (not specifically cancer like a PET will), and a PET will detect cancer that is much smaller than a CT can show. I knew that the cancer that had been in my body was aggressive, and I simply wasn’t willing to take the chance that a CT would miss something if it was there.  So I had the PET. When the doctor told me the results, she said that the lymph node would not have shown up as abnormal on a CT scan. It would have grown aggressively for the next three months when my next routinely scheduled PET would have shown it. And god knows how wildly it would have progressed by then.  I trusted my gut and took charge of my own healthcare.  This is my life, and while I have a wonderful team of specialists (all with resumes that go on for miles), not a single one of them lives inside this body and hears the messages I hear.

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20 thoughts on “This One’s a Fighter

  1. Shelly Abrams says:

    Have you ever heard of the Gerson therapy? It would be worth a look:
    http://www.youtube.com/movie?v=wvzDHGLEUyw&feature=mv_sr Sometimes, when conventional therapy seems to come up shy, an alternative might be the answer. Good luck, love.

  2. patti hanrahan lattray says:

    Kelly, just yesterday during a discussion with business associates about kids and grandkids and the sports in which they had participated, you vaulted (pretty punny, huh?) into my mind when we were talking about gymnastics. I could not help but share your story with them, and about how your attitude is inspirational. Woman, you are amazing!

    Have you ever read Gone With the Wind? If so, have you read the sequel, Scarlet?

    Don’t ever give up. This world is not always kind, and sometimes we face daunting challenges. Your path will continue to help others to have strength, as you have had.

    If I had a magic wand I would heal you, bit I don’t have that wand. Please feel free to turn to me if there is anything that you would like for me to do.

    Hugs and keep fighting sweetie,

  3. Mike Rogers says:

    Way to stand up and let them know you wanted the more accurate test, I will be having the petscan to check and see if the 35 radiation and three chemo treaments have eliminated the cancer in my head and neck, the wait of three months will be nerve wracking but at least it will be the petscan my oncologist just waits three or four months after treatment ends before doing the petscan, hoping that the neck area is clean and will stay that way, the last eight weeks have been really hard, not being able to eat is the hardest thing I am dealing with now, I just cannot eatm I am hungry but food will just not go down,..

    • Tara Johnson says:

      Kelly,
      Keep sticking up for what you know is the right thing. While you have the best doctors in your corner, you will never find anyone who knows you better than you 🙂 You deserve more than anything get the best possible treatment, so keep demanding and expecting it!
      Keep smiling Kelly and inspiring. Your attitude is absolutely amazing. We can all learn something from your positive outlook. You, Ms. Pozzoli, are a true fighter and this is the final round where you knock this cancer out…a total knockout!!! 😉

      • AMEN! Doctors are not God, they really don’t know everything there is to know, especially when it comes to healing the body! Follow your heart, be your own best advocate! Only you know what is best for you!

  4. Emily Cobb says:

    After reading your post I believe I will be asking for a PET this March. I have adenosquamous carcinoma of the cervix stage 4 and have been just having CT’s.

    • kpozzoli says:

      Talk to your doctors about it. My situation was that the docs were of the belief that there was no cancer in my body. There were no tumors to monitor. I demanded a PET for my first follow up because if there was a new tumor it may not have been large enough to show up on a CT (I was right). Before I had the surgery however, I was doing chemo to control the tumors we knew about. During that treatment, I did CTs every 6 weeks to monitor their growth. There’s nothing wrong with CT scans in that case. The important thing to remember is that you have to be your best advocate. Good luck, and stay strong.

  5. Kathy Nelson says:

    Keep fighting Kelly! You are such an inspiration, and you have an amazing spirit!! Keeping you in my thoughts & prayers!

  6. Kristi says:

    Kelly. Make the things you want the reason to fight again…unfortunately you have to fight harder and longer to get your dreams.
    That must mean they are going to be amazing rewards for you!

    I never had kids and had to have an emergency hyster when I was 38. I am now 52 and I have cervical cancer, because in the old days they left it in. I have adenocarcinoma and MAY have cancer in a lymph node in an odd spot…by my tailbone…where they can not surgically remove it or it may be just a shadow. They could not tell from the PET scan.

    I’m printing your stories to take with me as I move to another city for 2 months…just enough in the country to have limited internet access.

    I want you to know that you are an inspiration to an old lady who is putting on her battle armor this morning. I begin my fight next week.
    I am praying for you.

  7. Kristi says:

    Go back and read your own December 23, 2011 post.

    • kpozzoli says:

      Thank you for sending me to read my own post. As I read it, I kept thinking “Oh yeah! I remember this race, this girl, this attitude.” It’s interesting that I wrote that post at the very beginning of all of this. I had recently found out that the cancer was in my lymph nodes. Never could I have imagined what the next 13 months would bring. But here I am, 13 months later, still running that same race. The parallels are eerie. Anyway, thank you again. And good luck in your fight. Be strong.

  8. Nicki says:

    Hi Kelly. You don’t know me but in a way, at least, I feel like I know you. My mom Gail, and your dad worked together at SBC for a lot of years.
    I, like most, have followed your story since the first Jeff Probst show. My mom told me to watch your story because around the same time I was also diagnosed with cervical cancer and was seeing a GYN oncologist.
    Anyway, just wanted to let you know I pray for you lots and think of you often. I was patiently awaiting great news from the latest scan and was sad to see you didn’t get the “all clear” news you (and the rest of us) were hoping for. Here’s how I see it though, you’ve been through the hardest part. You’ve gotten rid of the big stuff. This is just the small “leftovers” and once that’s gone you will be done. Your amazing attitude and zest for life has gotten you this far and you’ve got this. Keep your chin up and keep up that great outlook. This will be behind you very soon. We all know and have said it s million times, things happen for a reason. Why it happens to good people, no one knows but I can tell you one thing, you are SUCH an amazing inspiration to so many I guess that’s reason #1 you were picked! Keep up the fight, you’ve got this Kelly. Sending lots of prayers and “juju” your way 🙂
    P.S. I sent you a friend request on fb a couple weeks back. I’m sure you were thinking who the hell is this!

  9. I found your blog today and have read through your posts. I am kind of blown away by how fast everything happened for you. I found out that I have ovarian cancer two months ago, and will be having a hysterectomy on Feb 20th. I have had a hell of a time finding someone going through the same thing as me (not that I wish it on anyone), so I’m glad I came across your blog. Good luck to you, thanks for sharing your journey.

  10. Janiece Donaldson says:

    Kelly, I am sorry to hear that you still have some cancer. Keep your chin up, you will win this crisis as you have so many others. You have a wonderful outlook, keep it up because you will survive in the end. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers!!

  11. Nancy says:

    Kelly,
    I have been following your journey since your first day on the Probst show. You are a lovely young woman with an exuberance for life that is contagious. I know the struggle you have been facing on this journey intimately, as my 27 year old daughter passed away from Stage 1B2 adenosquamous cervical cancer on July 19, 2012. She never had an abnormal Pap test and was diagnosed on September 2, 2011, which was eight months after her last normal Pap test. I believe if she would have been given an HPV test each time she had a Pap test, which is standard of care for women over 30, that she would still be alive today. The standard of care to not test women under 30 for HPV unless they have an abnormal Pap test puts young women under thirty at risk. At least if you know you have HPV you could takes steps to monitor its progression or regression. I think this would have helped you too with a heads up about HPV prior to your diagnosis. My sole focus of research once my daughter was diagnosed was trying to find anything that could save her life. Since she passed my focus of research has been, how did this happen. I stumbled upon this blog today and would like to share it with you in the hope that this information would be helpful to you in your battle. Everything I have been reading about cancer points to what is so clearly stated on this MD’s blog.
    http://diagnosisdiet.com/blog/
    You keep up the fight, Kelly. You are a remarkable young woman.
    Nancy

    • kpozzoli says:

      Thank you for the kind words. And I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. The kicker is that I was getting HPV tests. We knew about the HPV back in 2007. Even by today’s standards, I would have been tracked more closely… and I was. I have some sort of freakishly aggressive form of cancer. But I also have a freakishly eerie way of getting what I want from the Universe, and I’m hoping that being healed is no exception. I will check out that blog. Thank you for sending it.

  12. exiledtyke says:

    It seems like you were fighting even before the question was asked.

  13. Bethany says:

    For a moment I try to think of something clever to say, however, I’m just a (almost) 23 year old mother, wife, student, and ever curious me…. and I’ll never forget the feeling of watching you on the Jeff Probst show a couple months ago and thinking “Wow! This woman amazingly inspiring!” I work in a hospital and see so many ill people but very rarely do they have spirit like yours. In fact, many people who have great lives still lack such a positive attitude. It’s so admirable and really gives me something to aspire to teach my own daughter as she grows up….You are truly one of a kind and I wish you all the best through your future treatments/decisions. Just know that you have truly touched someone all the way in Tennessee and my family and I are always rooting for you!

  14. Mary Lynn says:

    Ok lady, here’s the deal. First, it’s Mary Lynn, your “uncle-in-law” Rick’s wife. You shared with us last Easter that you had cervical cancer and by the time I saw you again, at Thanksgiving, I was fighting breast cancer. I still worry everyday that the cancer might also be elsewhere in my body and will talk with my primary care doctor about a PET scan. If it is anywhere else, I want to know and I want to know NOW. I know that you are a fighter and WILL BEAT THIS. And you’ve got what it takes. I took the “bull by the horns” and tried to learn everything I could about my cancer. And I wanted it OUT of my body as soon as possible. It still feels like a sureal experience. Breast cancer does not run in my family, how could this be happening to me? How do you make plans? For anything? The only thing I could plan on is having lots more dr appts and tests and surgery and radiation, etc. Would I have a future beyone this year? Let’s just say, I prayed A LOT. For God to give me the strength to go through whatever it took to stay alive. For my family and the shock this brought to them and the slap in the face of reality they felt, and for my dear husband to have to go through this again, after losing his first wife to cancer. THAT worried me more than anything. I knew this would be a terrible toll on him.
    On a good note, I just started a new job. I have not told them yet about my recent health issues. How do you tell a new employer, “oh, by the way, I have breast cancer and have to have all these regular dr visits and tests”? How do you bring that up? I haven’t yet, but will have to shortly due to drs appts. I hope that they will be understanding.
    In the meantime, stay STRONG. I know what an incredible young lady you are! Be persistent, take care of yourself first and foremost, and I look forward to seeing you this Easter. Let’s kick cancer in the butt!
    You go girl!
    Love and Smiles,
    Mary Lynn

  15. Kristi says:

    Still have you in my thoughts and prayers.

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