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  • Writer's pictureTeri

The Beginning.

Hi everyone!

I want to start off by thanking my small group, friends, and family for all their love and support. Since each person has entered at different stages in my journey, what I’d like to do is share everything that has happened to me since I found out that I have cancer.

On July 14th, I got a call from my gynecologist with the news that they had found cancer cells within my uterine lining. I had gone to my gynecologist a week before because of irregularity in my menstrual cycle. Prior to that, I had been spotting for a few weeks and then suddenly had an extremely heavy flow that lasted for more than 7 days. The heavy flow was not normal for me even though I had been having issues with my menstrual cycle since childhood. At my gynecologist’s office, they performed an ultrasound on me which displayed a thick uterine lining – this is abnormal for someone who just had just been menstruating. So, my gynecologist performed an endometrial biopsy in office and sent that to pathology. The results came back positive for a type of cancer called adenocarcinoma. There were also spindle cells present, which is a sign of another type of cancer called carcinosarcoma. My gynecologist then referred me to an oncologist.

The following week, on July 19th, I met with Dr. Meaghan Tenney and her PA, Emily at University Gynecologic Oncology (UGO). She explained to me the two components to my cancer. The carcinoma component (adenocarcinoma) is a cancer arising in the epithelial tissue or the lining of internal organs (in this case, the lining of my uterus). And, then, there is the sarcoma component (carcinosarcoma) which is cancer arising from connective tissue (the muscular part of my uterus).

She goes on to explain that the carcinoma component of my cancer is definitive based on the biopsy that has been done. Good news is that this type of cancer is more common and more predictable. However, the sarcoma component was not definitive. This type of cancer is more concerning because it’s a rare cancer (makes up only 2-5% of uterine cancer) and tends to be aggressive in nature. More tests would need to be done to determine if I should be concerned about the sarcoma. Since the biopsy that was performed only takes a 1-2% sample of cells in the uterine lining, in order to have a more thorough understanding, my oncologist recommended a procedure called a dilation and curettage (D&C) which would remove my entire uterine lining for testing, as well as a hysteroscopy where my oncologist would examine my uterus.

On July 25th, I went to Northside for a CT scan and a D&C. They were outpatient procedures and I was able to return to work the next day. On August 10th, I had my post op appointment with my oncologist where we discussed the test results. The CT scan revealed nothing unusual – no large masses or anything concerning elsewhere in my body. However, the pathology report from the D&C shows signs that the sarcoma is highly likely. Therefore, treatment would be aggressive. This means having a total hysterectomy (removal of my uterus, both fallopian tubes, and both ovaries in addition to surrounding lymph nodes) and likely radiation and chemo afterwards.

The aggressive treatment plan also means that I would not be able to produce eggs or carry my own children after my uterus and ovaries are removed. So, my oncologist gave me information regarding fertility treatments and egg preservation. Thankfully, the cancer wasn’t aggressive enough in its current state to cause concern about delaying my surgery. Her office helped me to connect with the Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA) and Dr. Andrew Toledo and his staff who helped me go through the process of preserving my eggs. I’ll speak in more detail about this in another post. On, September 20th, after 2 weeks of daily injections to stimulate my ovaries, I had outpatient surgery at RBA to retrieve my eggs and was able to freeze 21 eggs!

Now that I have my eggs frozen, I can focus on treatment for my cancer. We scheduled my hysterectomy for October 10th, 2017 at 1pm. The surgery will be performed at Northside Hospital in Atlanta by Dr. Meaghan Tenney. It will be an inpatient surgery requiring a minimum of 1 night stay.

The following is the surgical procedure that will be performed: robotic assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, pelvic and periaortic lymph node dissection, cystoscopy; possible laparotomy. Phew! What this essentially means is that, with the help of a robot and some small incisions, I will have my uterus, both ovaries and fallopian tubes, and surrounding lymph nodes removed. My doctor will also examine the lining of my bladder and possibly create a larger incision in my abdominal cavity if she needs a larger viewing area to examine the extent of the cancer.

My fiancé, Erwin, will be with me at the hospital. We will provide more info on visitation and help needed as we get closer to the surgery date.

How am I doing through all this? Physically and mentally, I feel fine. Emotionally, it can be draining some days. What I feel most is grateful for the love and support I have gotten from you all, my family, and friends. I do feel sad that I have this cancer and that it’s causing me to lose my uterus. There are days where I do think about what will happen to me and what my future will be like, which can be a little scary. But, I am also very hopeful that the surgery and treatment afterwards will help save my life. I also feel that no matter what challenge I may face, I can overcome them with the support of my loved ones and with my faith.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story.

With gratitude for all your love, support, and encouragement, -- Teri

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