Saturday, August 15, 2009

wunda's world upsidedown

The last few months I've been battling sinus problems.

First guess was an infection, but the antibiotics did not help. My dr thought I needed a longer rx, but since we weren't sure it was infection, I opted to wait and see. Allergies were also a possibility.

Some days, I felt broken -- though I figured running after Kaylee and getting little sleep were to blame.

I went to an ear, nose and throat dr last Tuesday.

He took one look into my nose and his reaction was distressing. I don't remember exactly, but once you hear cancer, you don't hear much else.

He said the chances were small, but we should do testing quickly, to alleviate any fear.

That day I had a CT scan. That afternoon he called and brought my husband and I back to the office.

The results were easy enough to see -- the sinus cavities on my left side were filled. He said it looked a lot like an antrochoanal polyp (one side and really big). It could also be a fungal infection... and of course the possibility of cancer was looming in the room.

One thing was definite. It was big and needed to be removed.

Surgery was scheduled for Friday. He would do a biopsy and then depending on the result, stop or remove the benign tissue.

As soon as I woke up from surgery, I asked the time -- one surgery would be longer than the other... It was less than two hours. My mom and husband were by the bed and someone told me it was malignant.

Although my first reaction was "are you sure?" I was calm. The fear of what could be was replaced with reality. Cancer. I was not surprised. I had all week to prepare. I'm sure the drugs from the anesthesia helped me stay calm.

I've known many who have battled cancer.

I lost my father, my husbands aunt, my uncles wife, my grandfather, my sister's mother in law.

I know survivors too -- two uncles, my aunt, a few friends, parents of friends.

What are the chances I would be added to the list? When I was a little girl, I was a bit of a hypochondriac. I was always worried I had cancer. As I got older, my fears subsided.

When I went to the doctor last Tuesday, the last thing on my mind was cancer. I had just given birth and nurse my baby? How could a diseased body support such miracles?

I will know more about a diagnosis on Monday. The weekend is going slow.

I am nursing my daughter as much as I can. The idea of early weaning is heartbreaking. I fear she will grow up without a mother. I am thankful she is only 1 as she will not remember. She may not remember me. I hope I can live on in her through the bonding relationship we've created and the stories and memories people around her hold close.

And of course, I am not calling it quits -- I don't even have a diagnosis, or 2nd opinion. My strategy is the same I used to run a marathon. If I felt tired, in pain or I couldn't go on, I would ask myself, "can you finish the next mile? just up to that next tree? will you be disappointed if you stopped because you know you had it in you to keep going?"

As long as there is a chance (even a fools hope) and I can make it to the next tree, I will. I will come through this a survivor, regardless of my mortality.

I am scared. Writing is an easier form of communication. I say the word cancer with tears in my eyes and a closed throat. I write it with ease. I am thankful for this outlet.


Anonymous said...

Hey Wunda, please stay in calm, everything is going to be ok, a big hug and my best wishes.

Chris Brind said...

Was very sorry to read this. Good luck with everything!

alberto said...

Sorry to hear that. It was a very emotive post. I hope you all the best, and I hope your daughter remembers her mother with love. Best wishes for you two. I hope my support gives you one extra mile.

Object-Oriented Sammy said...

Hi Wendy...
Please stay calm and strong. I believe there is a huge chance of you beating this, and being fine. Best wishes.

hammett said...

Wendy, you're in our thoughts and prayers - and that is from a mostly atheist person. I'm 110% sure that you will get through this.

Ed Gibbs said...

Sorry for the surreal news. As a two time cancer survivor (Non-Hodgkin's) I had a similar experience when I was 30 and got a weird bump on my neck that had to be removed and turned out to be NHL. It was frightening, but I quickly realized I needed to learn everything about it I could and just assume I'd make it through. My wife and I had just gotten pregnant with our first daughter.

I can't say it was easy, but I just hoped for the best and pushed through the chemo and radiation treatment. Fittingly the final radiation sessions ended just a few days before my daughter was born. Kids will really take your mind off nasty diseases.

I did learn quickly that being a cancer survivor gives you a new perspective on life and how important the present is. So it's probably premature, but welcome to being a cancer survivor.

If the blogging is helping you cope I'd say continue. I know it helped me when I had a relapse in 2004. Anyway you'll look back on this experience in the future and think how lucky you are to spend time with your daughter.

Just as a heads up in general with cancers they'll do a quick staging diagnosis to figure out how aggressive or localized the particular cancer is and then generally you'll be signed up for bouts of chemo/radiation. Hopefully it's a easily treatable one and you'll be through the process quickly. The good news is the treatments get better all the time.

Roy Osherove said...

Good luck Wendy.
I hope for you and your family you make it through. I don't know much about these things, but I will be thinking of you and wishing you well in my heart.


bittercoder said...

Yikes, not the words you ever want to hear after a CT scan.

If anyone can beat this, I'm sure you can! We're sending all our good vibes to you and your family from here in New Zealand.

Wishing a fast, complete and most of all easy recovery!

Bill said...


Originally saw your comment on twitter and wanted to say thank you for updating. You are so right about that "one more mile" thought. I know that sometimes the bad thoughts tend to take over and can ne most overwhelming but by taking one step at a time, even one minute at a time can make all the difference. My thoughts and prayers and love are with you and your family and know that you have the strength to fight through this! Keep positive and know that there is a world of folks who love you and need you.

my best,

Michael Easter said...

A sobering tweet (as a precursor) and a moving post. I know many readers/followers are sending their best wishes, as I am.

I offer some advice from my Aunt Judy. She is a very devout woman: hair-in-a-bun, Biblical scholar, etc.

Not that it could possibly compare, but upon my departure for grad school, she whispered 3 words in my ear. Words that I will never forget: "give 'em hell".

Fight it with medicine, laughter, love, and everything you have.


Gene DeClark said...

I have not been able to get your story out of my mind all weekend.

I had just found your blog a few days before your announcement, but I was already so impressed with you. Women in software development are somewhat rare, as I'm sure you know. Entrepreneurs from CS backgrounds are also somewhat rare. The intersection of the two may be just a handful of women in all the world. On top of that, you're so young. Then I found out you run marathons and are a wife and mommy. I have no idea where you found the time and energy to do all this.

When I found out you had cancer, I think I must have stared at the monitor for five minutes without moving. I just kept thinking how unfair it was for someone who had accomplished so much to be facing this. I kept thinking about your little girl and about my own kids at home.

I've never met you and probably never will. But I wanted you to know that people you've never met, from the other side of the country, are praying for you and your family. Without knowing your views on faith, I have no idea if that's a comfort to you or not, but I hope it is. I believe in the power of positive thoughts to heal, and I believe in the power of faith as well.

I wish there was more I could say or do to help. Maybe it will help lift your mood a tiny bit to let you know how helpful your blog has been in organizing my TDD approach in my new job? It has been an indispensible springboard which I've been able to adapt to my needs. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

I know you can beat this if you fight it. My thoughts and prayers will be with you to help you as much as they can.

Chris Holmes said...

Survive Wunda.

Mark H said...

So sorry to hear this news. I wish you and your family all the best, and am praying for you.

Anonymous said...

Wunda, Best wishes to get through this.

Anonymous said...

I echo Gene DeClarks sentiments.

Recently found your blog, spent a few days of-and-on working through some TDD/Agile related posts, saw the "hottie" comments, noticed your picture, realized I'd been reading posts from 2007, clicked the homepage, saw the cancer post.

I'm stunned and ignorant, but I wish for you a happy outcome.