Tuesday, April 16, 2013

She went in to have our baby and came out with a cancer diagnosis

It's been two weeks since my wife and I welcomed our son Gordon into the world. It's also been two weeks since we found out Amanda has cancer.

We went into the IWK on Tuesday, April 2nd for a Cesarean section prompted by an ultrasound earlier in the pregnancy that showed the placenta dangerously close to the cervix. Too close and she could bleed to death during delivery. An ultrasound closer to the due date showed the placenta in a slightly safer place, but now blood vessels were blocking the way out. An emergency C-section was in order.

So we went in, three weeks early. The delivery went smoothly. Our baby Gordon was frank breech, pulled out buttocks-first. I went over and cut the cord. I brought our first child back to Amanda to let her see. It was better than I'd expected!

Then the surgeon started talking about finding bumps. Instead of stitching her up, the team was finding trouble inside her.

They had to page the oncologist. I went into shock, sweating and heaving on the operating room floor. Nurses wheeled me out, crying, as doctors talked about knocking my distressed wife out and removing organs.

An oncologist arrived from the nearby VG hospital. She found Amanda's omentum caked with cancerous tumours. Amanda begged them not to put her under as they removed most of that organ and explored for more malignancies. She wanted them to take out what they had to take out, but she wanted to be with our son in his first minutes of life.

Our boy was perfect. The moment was not. As nurses watched over her recovery in the hours that followed, we did our best to sit calmly with the mysterious discovery.

Bonding with the baby was interrupted by visits to mammography and CT scans. The tests found nothing, which was not good news. The doctors needed to know where all this cancer began. Otherwise they had no way to treat it.

The nurses and other staff at Halifax's IWK Health Centre were gracious and helpful and accommodating beyond belief. They were wonderful throughout our stay.

A phone call days after our arrival home told us the rush-ordered pathology revealed an "ovarian type" cancer at stage III-C on a scale to four. Amanda was unable to talk, wailing and dry-heaving on the floor as I finished the call with the doctor.

Today we went to the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre to find out what's ahead. The current plan is to drop an atom bomb on this invader with three courses of chemotherapy over nine weeks. Then surgeons will perform a complete hysterectomy. After that, another three courses of chemo.

A week ago, we were expecting a new baby. Now we await months of sickness and hair loss, followed by a vibrant 34-year-old woman being sent into surgically-induced menopause. Then more sickness.

They tell us that even if this treatment knocks the cancer out, it could return one day, and if so, we would only find out when new tumours are large enough to make themselves discovered.

This cancer was really only found because Gordon was delivered three weeks early. That happened because doctors found the blood vessels in the way. The final ultrasound would not have happened if the previous one hadn't shown the placenta in a dangerous spot. And none of it would've happened if we hadn't tried for a family.



It looks like Gordon will be an only child, and his parents are already off to a difficult start. But without him, Amanda's cancer would have gone undetected for much longer.

I want to thank so many people, but I won't even try to list them all here in case I forget anyone. We've had nothing but positive vibes from all of our friends, family and colleagues. Thank you.

I look forward to getting back to work and continuing to grow Maritime Morning Weekend Edition alongside the new producer. News95.7 continues to grow and just won another pile of industry awards.

Most of all, I look forward to making the most of my time with Amanda and little Gordon. Being a dad is more fun than I even expected. I expected it to be terrifying, but not for the reason it is now.


---
Postscript, Tuesday night:

Thanks to everyone who saw this via Twitter or Facebook or Google+ and came to read. Thanks also to the dozens of people I've connected with through the years through social media -- and so many who I've never exchanged a word with -- who've offered their kind thoughts and even offered help. Thank you!

I know how helpful it can be to find other people who are going through the same thing as you. I know search engines can help find those people.

So, just for the record and so Googles and Bings can help people find this story and any chapters hereafter, I'll make official note that we're talking about a Grade 1-2 serous cancer, ovarian type, Mullerian origin, stage 3C. Planned treatment is three courses of IV Carboplatin and Taxal, then total hysterectomy and oophorectomy, then three more round of chemo, perhaps intraperitoneal.

As Amanda said, we're not going to fight this in the dark. Thanks for lending your lights. She's now interested in starting a blog, and I'll see what I can do to get that happening.

34 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear this Scott. I wish you, Amanda and Gordon courage and strength as you move forward.
    Charlene and I will be keeping positive thoughts.

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  2. I am crying right now. Please be strong. Chad and I are praying hard for you both.

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  3. What a touching story. God bless your family. Be strong.
    Positive vibes from Ontario. Thanks for sharing Meghan.
    Lori Hill, Waterloo, ON

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  4. Jesus, Scott, Amanda I am so sorry. No one should have to deal with that on what should be the happiest day of your lives. So many emotions. Just thrilled that little Gordon is healthy and has two amazing parents but sick to my stomach about what your family has to go through.

    Stay strong,

    Cassie

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  5. For a guy who makes a living speaking, I'm speechless! I hope and pray you will get the happy ending all three of you deserve.

    Blessings come in all forms and I hope you all have many more to come.

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  6. My thoughts are with you. Use the support around you and my hopes that all turns out for the family.

    Greg R

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  7. Well, you brought me to tears.
    I've tried writing a few messages now. I keep deleting them because I just don't know what to say.
    Know that I've enjoyed reading your tweets- tweets showing how excited you both were for this time in your lives.
    Know that I am thinking of you both- and wish you the best outcome possible.
    -Meg

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  8. Amanda is one of the strongest people I know. I've watched her grow into an amazing woman since the first day she came to work with us. She has an amazing support team behind her. If anybody will KICK CANCER.....AMANDA WILL...I love you guys xoxoxoxox
    Michelle

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  9. Scott, My very best friend recently went through chemo and radiation. She is the strongest and most generous person I know. I shared your story with her and she replied:

    How terrible that something so phenomenally joyful can be so awful at the same time. Life is so unfair at times!!



    Tell him to call Dr. David Satok (416) 935-6688 in Toronto if he has any questions (he is the Rogers corporate doctor) or just want someone with medical advice to talk to. He was amazing with me. I sent Dr. Satok all my test results, notes, etc. and he took the time to explain everything to me. It gave me a phenomenal peace of mind to know that someone with a medical background took the time to explain everything to me and answered every one of my mundane questions.



    And if there is any personal advice that I can share, it is to stay off the internet for information, especially survival/recurrence rates. It NEVER makes you feel better. Survival rates for cancer are generalized info and cancer is a very individualized thing. She is young and otherwise healthy... her prognosis will be much better than the average woman who is diagnosed.



    I know this is far fetched but if he/she wants to talk to someone who has been through chemo, I would be happy to help.



    Even at an impossible time like this, he strength carries through in his eloquent writing.



    I, too, am sad for them but the human spirit is resilient.
    -------------------
    email me if you want her contact. Lien_Gomez@yahoo.ca or info re: the doctor she mentioned above.
    All the best to you and Amanada and your sweet boy.

    Lien

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  10. I'm just one of your many devoted listeners to Radio 95.7. Anyway, keep strong, say a prayer, and don't be afraid to inquire about other protocols for treatment.
    ----David

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  11. Scott:

    As Kendall's mother, Amy will soon be my daughter-in-law, and Amanda, you and Gordon are part of our family .My heart is so sad for you all, but I believe in the power of prayer and am praying for Amanda. May you all get the strength and courage you need to take you through the next few months.Lots of love to you all
    .

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  12. Hey Scott

    That is a heartbreaking beginning to your baby story, but I'm certain you three will find a way to turn it in to a 'happily ever after '.

    All the best

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  13. Very touching chain of events, baby Gordon will give you the strength to get you both through this!
    Julie W

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  14. WOW Scott... so sorry you're going through this. When I heard Jon's voice on weekend morning, I wondered where you were. Will be thinking of you, your son and especially Amanda.

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  15. You have a ton of support for the fight ahead. Sending positive thoughts!
    Lisa Brandt

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  16. I'm also a new parent. I must admit, we sometimes tend to complain about little things (ie not sleeping as much as we'd want to, the house being a mess, etc.) Reading this sure puts things in perspective. What a reality check this is.

    Thank you for sharing your story. From our family to yours, best of luck in the coming months/years.

    Andre
    Moncton, NB

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  17. Wonderful Gordon! What a God-send! I work with News 91.9 in Moncton. You probably don't know me but I take in your show on the weekends. All the best and here's to beating the crap out of Amanda's cancer!

    Theresa Barbour
    Moncton

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  18. I live in Toronto, and I read the this crazy train blog. I don't know you, to be honest. But I linked here from there... and just because you can never have too many people thinking good happy thoughts for you when things are rough... I'm thinking good thoughts for you and your family and I hope things get better. <3

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  19. I just read your story (middle of the night here in Toronto) and cried. I am so sorry for your family and what you are going through and pray you will all find the strength to get through this. Clearly you are touching many people with your impossibly difficult situation - so at least know you can add another to the growing list of people thinking of you and praying for the best possible outcome.

    And thank you for putting things

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  20. (Cont)

    Thank you for putting things in perspective.

    I wish there was more I could do or say.

    Deb.

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  21. Our whole family and many of our friends have been/ will be praying for Amanda, you and the rest of the family as you go through this very difficult trial. Little Gordon sure is a special gift in the midst of this and it is such a blessing that he was born early and the cancer detected!

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  22. A baby is such a blessing and in this case may have been your wife's guardian angel. Sometimes we never fully understand why things happen the way they do but there is always a reason. Stay postive. I wish your family the best and I will say a prayer for you.

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  23. Scott, I am so sorry you and Amanda are going through this. Anytime I see "baby" and "cancer" together I take notice, because I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma last year ten days after finding out I was pregnant with our third child. In my case, if the timing of the diagnosis had been different I might not have had my baby, instead of your situation of if the timing of the baby had been different you might not have had the diagnosis. Either way, we have both been given the gifts of our children and the diagnosis, which does not seem like a gift at the time your hear it, but it is information you need to survive; what better gift? I found a blog to be very helpful, both for processing my own thoughts and feelings and for keeping people up to date as to my treatment and other events. As you may have already found, it gets exhausting just keeping immediate family informed, much less the rest of your circles. If Amanda ever wants to, I'd be happy to chat about going through chemo and the cancer emotions with a young baby (mine is 5 months old now). You and your family will be in my prayers as you face this journey.

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  24. I'll be praying for you and your beautiful family...

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  25. My thoughts and prayers are with you both. I delivered my daughter 2 days ago and cannot imagine what a cancer diagnosis on top of that would be like. My full-time job prior to mat leave is as the pharmacist on a cancer unit here in Ontario so as much as I have insight into both sides of your situation my brain just can't wrap around putting the two together. Be strong! If there is anything that I can do to help please have Amanda message me through baby centre (I'm part of her April group - SarahG0410).

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  26. Hi Scott. I'm so sorry to hear about this. I'm sending you, Amanda and Gordon positive thoughts & prayers.

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  27. Scott,

    Please know that you and your family are in my prayers as you face this challenge. I read your story and was amazed and inspired by your strength. Your son is beautiful.

    Anne Winstanley

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  28. Scott, I am horrified and saddened to hear this. I wish you, Amanda, and Gordon all possible strength through this journey.

    - Joanne Cook

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  29. I just read your story, and am sending hope. I feel your pain and worry all too well. My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer two years ago at 26, we found out we were expecting baby #2 the next day. Chemotherapy, radiation, having a newborn baby is all very surreal and scary. But there is also a fight, a ray of light, something to push you through the hard times and keep you going. I have learned through our situation that things happen for some reason, we just have to hope, and believe that, and think positive everyday. Take the bad days when they come, but stay positive as much as you can. Thoughts and prayers to you all. Sacha

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  30. Prayers from CB

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  31. Oh Scott - I'm thrilled your son in okay, but so terribly sorry to her about yours and Amanda's situation. I can say, there is hope. My husband was diagnosed with Lymphoblastic Leukemia 3 months ago ... his first treatment put him into remission. I'll be praying for you and Amanda as I pray for him.

    Love and Blessings
    G

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  32. "If the future's looking dark
    We're the ones who have to shine
    If there's no one in control
    We're the ones who draw the line
    Though we live in trying times
    We're the ones who have to try
    Though we know that time has wings
    We're the ones who have to fly..."
    - Neil Peart, 'Everyday Glory', Counterparts, 1993

    Scott,

    Stay strong. Congratulations to you and Amanda on the new little one. I understand that things are bitter sweet. Find strength, look into your son's eyes, your love for him will guide your way.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your new family.

    Anthony Guerra


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    1. I love that album, Anthony, and that's probably the one part on it that gets me teary when I hear it. Thanks for your note!

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  33. May God bless you and your little family! Your wife and son are simply beautiful in the picture. Congratulations and many prayers for strength, love and peace for you AND guidance/wisdom for the medical doctors invloved.

    Hugs

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