Saturday, February 8, 2014

Another Scan, Another Reprieve!

On Monday I received results from my latest PetCT scan...  Adam and I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief!  "Recurrence of Lymphoma not suggested."  Doesn't sound exciting the way it was written, but of course it IS!  Wouldn't it be funny though, if you were a scan reader to put in there, "Have a party, your body is no longer glowing with radioactive tumors!" or, "All that chemo you went through may cause a secondary cancer, but TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY!!" or even a simple, "No cancer detected.  Hooray!"  At least I think it would be quite hilarious, until you got fired of course :)  

I also received a booster flu shot and the go ahead to have surgery the next day to remove my gallbladder :(  I have been doing a lot of research on gallstones and having your gallbladder removed- it appears that many people who have undergone chemotherapy and specifically a bone marrow transplant get the stones and eventually need theirs out.  I've known that I had a lot of gallstones for about a year now but because it only bothered me occasionally it was suggested I leave it alone until if/when it started bothering me.  Well, it started bothering me as can be guessed!  Doctors said it wasn't a problem to have it out so we went ahead with the 7:30 am surgery on Tuesday.  

About 6 months ago I started noticing my gallbladder aching under my right rib pretty constantly and would occasionally have a slight "gallbladder attack" after eating a particularly heavy or high fat meal (think bacon or those super cheap and super delicious Totino's pizzas that probably cause cancer from all the crap they put in them...).  Then two weeks ago I indulged in another Totino's pizza slathered in delicious homemade ranch and I was in heaven... UNTIL... About two hours later when my right ribcage and shoulder were in so much pain I couldn't get comfortable in bed and absolutely could not sleep even after taking three 5mg Ambien!  That's crazy- when one usually knocks me out cold.  So of course I started reading on the net about all the problems gallstones can create and how one can end up in the emergency room getting emergency surgery... And I called my general practitioner in the morning.  Within a week I had the surgery scheduled and just needed results from my PetCT and the ok from my docs! 

 Let me tell you though, I was worried SICK the pain in my right shoulder blade and front right chest was going to be tumors growing instead of gallbladder problems.  For 3 months I've been unable to sleep on my right side due to the pain in my upper right quadrant and to the nodule on my thyroid that is just HUGE and feels like it's cutting off blood flow to my face if I'm not laying just right.  I have been constantly observing my body to notice any "B Symptoms" of cancer, like night sweats or slight fevers as I was getting the last two times cancer presented itself.  Fortunately I never noticed anything like those symptoms so I held off calling the docs.  Until the attack of course :)  

Yep, that's my gallbladder!  I made the pics small so nobody gets TOO grossed out  (Dad)

This is after it's out and ready to be done- I think it's cool the surgeon gave me these pics,
but I couldn't look at them until the day after surgery :)

Now it's been 4 days since the gallbladder removal and I've got ZERO pain in my shoulder and even slept on my right side two nights since!  How exciting :)  I know, it sounds so dumb, but I was going crazy only being able to sleep on the left side!  And my eye wrinkles were getting really bad on that left eye too :)  It's true.  Wrinkles have already improved since sleeping on my back and switching sides the last four nights.  I never knew how harmful ones sleep habits could be to face wrinkles!  But that's a tangent isn't it?  I was getting to how the recovery from surgery has been; and it's about how I expected.  Lots of sleep, pain in the belly, and cramping/grumbling constantly but at it's worst after eating anything.  And another aside?  Why not; the food I've received has been AMAZING!!  I feel so spoiled- my family and friends have really taken care of me these last few days by bringing food for us and taking the kids a bit to play.  It's so uplifting to see how much people care by the things they do after a surgery!  Or after a baby, or chemo, or a death in the family- some good things can come from tough times that's for sure (though of course a baby is not as tough as the others :)  

Wow, I just read through this post again; it's quite long-winded isn't it?  Too much gallbladder stuff, sorry :)  

Back to my oncology appointment at Huntsman (Dr. Hildebrandt is my doc btw, I'd recommend him to ANYONE, he has really been wonderful), my doc said he wants to see me in another two months for a checkup and additional vaccinations but I don't have to have another PetCT scan for 6 months!!  This will be the first time I've gone longer than three months without a scan since fall of 2010!  Is that crazy or what?  I do wonder how many scans a body can go through without causing extra problems from all that radiation... Oh well, I guess the good outweighs the bad, until the balance tips?  Whatever, I have other things to have anxiety over, I can push that topic out of my mind :)  

I'm looking forward to the next couple months without having to drive to SLC for any appointments! Yay!  As always, thank you for your continued support and following of my Cancer Journey- It feels great to share it with others and know there are those that can find this blog to hopefully help with their journeys.  It's not fun it's true, but it's sure a lot more bearable with support!  Love to all~


  1. That's AWESOME Tessa!!! I had my gallbladder removed after my first baby, and as a little heads up,.. without a gallbladder it makes it hard for your body to absorb fat soluble vitamins,... so keep up on your Vitamin D!! :D I'm so happy for you!!!

  2. I just stumbled across your page by chance, I saw a mormon video you made about becoming rediagnosed with hodgkins. When you were being treated the first time when you were 16, what treatment did they use? I'm sure it's different than what they do now but I am currently in round 2 of chemo for stage 2 hodgkins, 20 years old. And the main concern I have about all of this is that when it's all said and done I won't be able to have kids. Which looks like it worked out great for you which makes me feel so hopeful! I also have started a blog about my journey, It's so awesome to be able to find others that are going through the same things that you are! <3

    If you'd like to take a look, my blog is

  3. I just watched your I'm a Mormon video and thought to google you and see if there were any updates on your health!!!! I am SOOOO HAPPY for you and your family! Thank you for your inspiration!!!!!

  4. just saw your story on ksl tv today. super inspirational. i hope you're doing well. thank you for sharing. God bless you and your family. stay strong.

  5. I'm giving a talk on gratitude in church tomorrow and stumbled across your "I'm a Mormon" video and I just wanted to thank you for doing that. I am inspired by your story and grateful for that inspiration. I am just starting out my career as a cancer researcher and some days it is easy to lose focus on the big picture when wrapped up in studying and analyzing, but your story reminds me of why I am doing this. Thank you for refocusing me and thank you for your example of how gratitude can heal!

  6. I am going through my second round of chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. My first round was in 2006. I went into treatment within days of my son's return from his mission to Japan. This time my lymphoma has advanced and I am in a clinical trial for a medication for people like me who have had a recurrence of their lymphoma. My take away from my cancer experience has been this: tell those you love daily that you love them. You never now how long your life here on earth is for . Second, my testimony of the love of the Savior is so profound. I know that he literally carries me through my experiences with scans and treatments and surgeries. I hate cancer and the many loved ones that it has touched, but it does not define me. I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me and I love Him. I know this to the core of my being. My husband serves as the bishop of our ward. Through all of this I wouldn't change my cancer experience. Mostly because of the testimony that I have that I have been loved and cared for by ministering angels and the comfort of the scriptures. I know that He is aware of each of us and he will continues to bless each of us as we need to be. Carry on!

  7. maggie.danhakl@healthline.comAugust 16, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    Hi, recently launched a free interactive "Human Body Maps" tool. I thought your readers would be interested in our body map of the Gallbladder:

    It would be much appreciated if you could include this tool on and / or share with friends and followers. Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Thank you in advance.
    Warm Regards,

    Maggie Danhakl- Assistant Marketing Manager
    p: 415-281-3124 f: 415-281-3199

    Healthline Networks, Inc. * Connect to Better Health
    660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

  8. Just saw your video as a preview to a YouTube video (Shaytards).. And after shedding some tears, then googling you, then shedding some more tears over your strength and bravery.... And then 12 more for the beauty that shines from your relationship with your husband alone... I came across this blog. You're a fighter. Your children are blessed to have a woman like you to look up to. I am so relieved that you, stranger, are winning the battle. Your genuine kindness shines through that smile like nothing else and it's obvious you deserve the best. You are inspiring. Insert 15 more tears. Never stop fighting.

  9. Just watched your video via a friend's FB post. I too am a Hodgkins survivor. I was diagnosed with stage 2 when I was 19 and was treated and have been cancer free ever since, but your video brought me straight back to that time. I will check out your blog and will be praying for your continued recovery.

  10. Hi Tessa, I'm Lindsey! I have a question and would love to speak with you in regards to your journey. Could you please email me when you have a chance? Thanks so much, I look forward to hearing from you! :) lindseyDOTcaldwellATrecallcenterDOTcom

  11. Hello Tessa, my name is Rebecca. I came across you a few days ago as I was preparing a Sunday School Lesson on gratitude. Your story has touched and inspired me and my family. I hope you are continuing to heal. Please update me, if you can, on your progress. You and your family are in my prayers. Love, Rebecca