27 Sep The Cancer is Gone, My Arm has been Rebuilt, now the Long Road to Recovery
Words cannot express the overwhelming gratitude I have for all the friends and family who’ve come along side the girls and I since I was diagnosed with cancer. From my primary doctor, Kristi Kern, to my orthopedic oncology surgeon, Dr. Joel Post, I’ve had nothing but exceptional care.
Chondrosarcoma is an extremely rare form of bone cancer. Most oncologists will NOT experience a case of it in their entire career. Because of its rare qualities, it often gets missed until it’s in a more advanced stage. God was watching over me that day because Dr. Kern spotted my tumor within minutes of my walking into her office. She didn’t know exactly what we were in store for, but she immediately ordered MRIs for my arm and shoulder and a CT scan for my chest. Chondrosarcoma typically doesn’t spread but if it does, it typically will metastasize to the lungs.
I went in complaining of pain in my shoulder-blade and 20 minutes later she discovered the tumor in my bone.
The heartfelt prayer by my close friend Kami meant the world to me the morning we arrived at the Lemmon-Holton Cancer Pavilion in Grand Rapids. She’s dealt with the ultimate sacrifice of burying her own child so to have her stand along side me and give so effortlessly is a true Godsend.
The list of friends who’ve come along our side is endless from the Veldhouse ohana who so graciously mowed our lawn to the Curtis / Kok / Koster & Kosters families who showed up as the “Molly Maid” team to clean the house. Alicia and Sue who washed our windows, Laurie Popma who has been driving Kekai back from practice and meets on a daily basis. We’ve had meals dropped off from people at church and endless prayer warriors praying us through. My mom, sister and daughters continue to fill in the gaps with in every other way and I also have friends helping me with everything from paperwork to coordinating other types of help we’ll need as the leaves begin to drop… Thank you!!!
It’s been a long, challenging year of unwelcome changes here at the Andrade house. My daughters and I took a pretty good hit early this year and we’ve worked hard to push through the pain and disappointment that this betrayal continues to bring to our family.
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right? Well, it must be true because when the doctor called to tell me I had a very rare form of bone cancer, it barely phased me. My having cancer pales in comparison to hearing the gut wrenching pain that my daughter’s going through after having her heart-broken by a man she once called dad. There’s nothing worse than seeing your kids hurt and it’s going to take the Grace of God for me to forgive him for his poor choices.
Cathy shot this video shortly after they did the nerve block. It didn’t take long for my arm to go completely numb at which point she took full advantage to shoot a video. I must have had some kind of happy juice too at this point. I remember everything suddenly made me giggle, especially that goofy paper hospital gown that pumped hot air ~ all around me to keep my body at a warmer temperature.
Almost two weeks out of surgery now. I’m slowly improving but am still in a lot of pain. It makes sense when you consider how much of my bone had to be removed from my arm. Taking pain meds every two hours 24/7 has zapped my energy. It’s almost impossible to get any real zzzz’s when I can’t sleep longer than two hours at any given stretch. To top it off, the constipation these stupid drugs cause is horrific. I’m not kidding! I’m weaning off one of the pain meds this week but it’s been a challenge. Basically, the past two weeks have been hell. I do my best to put a smile on for everyone to hide my pain and keep praying for the best. I have the most incredible friends and family standing by my side and helping with everything the girls and I need. The kids themselves had been such a God send; such troopers! We are incredibly blessed by all of you!! Monday morning (9/28) I find out if any higher grade of cancer was found during the thorough pathology report so prayers for a great outcome are definitely appreciated on that. That’s that last scary immediate hurdle. I should be able to start physical therapy at some point down the road so I can begin my road to recovery. I will however have to get scans every three months for the rest of my life. Pray that I’ll find the means to do so and that they continue to come back clean. .
Yes, this is my mom and sister making fun of me… and below are a few of the x-ray shots of my new arm. Just call me bionic or a super hero or something…
That’s all for now. Cathy is the smarty pants who taped Mc Dreamy to my board. Of course all the surgeons, oncologists, anesthesiologist, nurses, techs… saw it but there was nothing I could do. The nurse put an alarm on my bed so I couldn’t escape without their help. Yes, I was busted the first night trying to run to the bathroom, IV’s, drainage tubes… intact because I needed to puke and the nurse call button was on the floor. What’s a girl to do?
By the way, the cool sox I’m wearing are compliments of my friend Ann Schneider from The Front Porch in Waukesha, WI. She has the coolest sox and rumor has it (they keep the naughty ones behind the counter 🙂 just sayin!)
Signing off for now. It took me a week and a half to get this written. Visit out Facebook Page ShizzleLLC for more frequent updates and hopefully, I’ll one day be able to paint again. For now, I’m just thankful to be alive.
A hui hou ~ Shelly