Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"there is no force on earth more powerful than the will to live"

Welcome to my blog! I never thought I'd have anything exciting to blog about, but here I am to tell all. Some things may be interesting about me, but most things probably aren't. A lot of crazy things have happened to me in the past four months. This blog is for my family and friends who want to keep up with the current events in my personal life. Also, maybe it can help someone out there who is going through something similar and needs someone to relate to. So here goes...(this could be a long one)

I was diagnosed with colon cancer in October 2010. Yes, me, who is only 25 (24 at the time) and has no family history of the stupid thing. The percentage of a person being diagnosed with colon cancer between the ages of 20 and 34 is 1.1%! It still hasn't sunk in. I wasn't even that sick. I saw a doctor a few months before I was diagnosed and he basically told me what I had was most likely an ulcer and highly unlikely to be cancerous. Boy was he wrong.

Once I was diagnosed, I had a CAT scan and PET scan. Both determined the cancer had not spread anywhere else. The next step was a colon resection (surgery to remove the tumor). I chose The Huntsman Cancer Institute which is one of the best places I could go. Once the tumor was removed, they would be able to determine its stage and if it had spread to my lymph nodes. Simply put, if it was in the lymph nodes I would need chemotherapy, if not, I would be all done! We were hoping for the second option.

I went to have my surgery the first week of November. I was really nervous about it, but I had a wonderful surgeon. There was one little problem during surgery though-I woke up! Apparently they hadn't given me enough anesthesia in the beginning and once they cut into my stomach, I was wide awake. I know it's so unbelievable, but trust me it happened. Even my own family didn't believe me until the anesthesiologist came to my hospital room the next day to apologize and explain what the hell happened in there. I'm not going to lie, it was pretty traumatic. I could hear everything the surgeon and nurses were saying, but I couldn't move, talk, open my eyes, or scream at the top of my lungs that I was awake. I was under just enough so that I couldn't react. I could feel pressure where they were cutting, but luckily I was numb enough that it didn't hurt much. Once I stopped panicking, I decided I could will myself to move my head. I chanted "move your head" over and over and over until I was finally unconscious again. The anesthesiologist told me he saw my head shaking! Go me!

I had been out of surgery a couple days and things were moving right along. All that changed about the third or fourth night after surgery. Luckily I was still in the hospital. I would wake up with excruciating pains in my abdomen or my whole body would shake uncontrollably for long periods of time. The surgeon on call didn't really know what to make of it. On the fifth day I was so sick (I barely even remember it) that my surgeon ordered me in for another CAT scan. Apparently there is a 0.8% chance of a leak developing where they re-attached the colon within 3-5 days of surgery. Guess what, I had a leak! Seriously, all I could think was what are the odds of all of this happening to one person? The CAT scan showed the leak and how my whole abdomen was filling up with toxins. I looked six months pregnant. After they discovered the leak, they rushed me into surgery. My surgeon is the best. I'm so lucky I had him. He fixed me right up. It was pretty scary though. I couldn't even talk. I couldn't even cry I was in so much pain. I remember getting rolled into that operating room for a second time genuinely thinking I might not make it.

Luckily I made it through the second surgery successfully. My poor abdomen had been through enough already. One surgery is difficult enough to recover from, let alone two. We also found out during my stay that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. boo. When removing a tumor, they aim to take about 12-15 lymph nodes. They took out 49 of my lymph nodes which is an unusually high amount. They only found 5 out of those 49 that were cancerous. Those very good odds. Although they told me I would have to endure six months of chemotherapy, we chose to believe that he had taken all of the cancerous cells out.

All in all I was in the hospital for 14 days. I had so many visitors and presents and flowers. I had so much support and I can't thank my loved ones enough for that. I truly needed it. I like to think of myself as a really positive person, but these events really did me in. It took me a good month or two to even believe that I could get through this stupid cancer battle. I hadn't even started chemo yet! I had to get a port placed in my chest, and a couple weeks after that I started my treatments. My first one was December 29th. They are every other week and I have a total of 12 treatments. I just finished my fourth. It's not so bad and I'm not even going to lose my hair! Way cool. It is a challenge though. Some days are really good, and some not so good. The more I go through the easier it gets though. I'm not going to act like I'm so positive and every day is great and I can endure anything with a smile. The truth is that I try my hardest to be positive and most days are pretty good and I can probably endure anything, but that doesn't mean I'll be happy about it. I'm trying my best to get through this time of my life with grace, but I wouldn't be able to do it without my family or friends. They keep me focused and upbeat.

My last treatment is scheduled for the first week in June, and I'll have one last surgery a month after that. Then I'll be free of this stupid thing called cancer. I'll be superwoman! I know I can make it through these next few months.

So there's the whole story with all the gory details (I may have spared a few details). This post was insanely long and who knows if you're even reading still. I'm going to keep up with how I'm doing on this blog, but I'm not just a cancer patient. I do fun things still and laugh a lot and go out on the town. So don't expect some sob story every time I post. Or ever. Thanks for reading-hope I didn't bore you to death! Bye!


  1. Mel, I'm so stoked that you made this blog. I already added it to my Reader.

  2. A pretty special story from a very courageous and wonderful little girl!! Keep your positive outlook and everything will work out.

  3. Melanie- you are so wonderful and strong! I love the personal touches you added to your story, especially the last paragraph :) Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. You are truly an inspiration to everyone around you. You ARE handling all this with grace and courage. I count the days along with you till you can move on with the things you want to accomplish. I love you!

  5. Way to go soul sista! I love it Mel, and I love you!!

  6. Mel, I'm so happy you started this blog!! No way did you bore me, it was interesting to read. Love your positive outlook. Can't wait for our craft club to begin!! Love you :)

  7. What a challenging time for you! I am so glad you have a blog to follow. Although we didn't grow up together because of distance (and a little bit of age ;)) You are truly loved by your Virginia family. I'm so sorry this stupid cancer found you but what a strong and courageous woman you are! I look forward to keeping up with your progress and reading all the fun and exciting things you will be doing!

    From one Mel to another <3

  8. I'm so glad u made a blog! You truly are my inspiration! Whenever I feel like complaining about being pregnant, I think of u and all you're going through and I don't feel like complaining anymore. Miss you so much!

  9. Mel-
    I am so glad you started a blog. I kept seeing stuff from people on FB talking about you, and hoping you were getting well. But I didn't know what was going on, and I didn't want to pry. FINALLY I caught Amber or Jamie on FB and asked what was up. I was in COMPLETE shock to hear the news. I even said "Isn't that something like 60 year old men get??"
    In the years to come, you will be so glad you blogged about it. And I'm sure you'll touch someone who is going through the same thing, and it will be a great strength to them.
    And I love the name, Get Mel Soon!

  10. Mel,
    I am not for sure if you remember me. My husband and I are friends of Amber and Jaime and we use to live in Dallas but now we live in Lehi. I saw your mom's post about your blog and decided to check it out. I had no idea what you were going through. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Please let us know if there is anything you need or anything we can do.

  11. Oh Mel - good for you. I love what Susan said on facebook about you, "don't let her sweetness fool you, this girl is a fighter". I loved it - because it is true. Fight, fight, fight right?? Keep on loving life like you always do.

  12. Mel. I love you. Keep fighting and thanks for opening up. I hadn't heard your perspective and it was nice to know. You are doing a great job with your attitude and you can do it!

  13. praying for strength and peace during this season.

    -Sarah Chisolm Miller

  14. oh mel, im trying not to cry at the moment!! im really sorry that this happened, but im really grateful that you are trying to be so strong!! i love you and you know im praying for you always!! sorry i haven't been the bestest of friends, but let me know if there is anything i can do for ya!! loveyoujennilee

  15. Wow Mel! I cried so much as I read this.. You are so amazing and you should know that. Keep us updated.. Love you!