On the morning of the surgery there were no tears in that hotel room, as we all got ready. It was actually a bit surreal because I remember us talking about how it just feels like a dream. A very bad dream nonetheless. Jen was very calm and pretty quiet but we did manage to get a few laughs in before we headed out the door. Cheryl and I drew on her belly with washable markers before we headed to the hospital.
I think these moments…. THESE are the moments that are going to get Jen through. Listen; if we lose our sense of humor we don’t stand a chance getting her through this. Oh what a surprise it was for the doctors. We got to the hospital and headed up to the waiting room with all of the family.
Even Bella and Bleu were there to stand vigil. Jen remained calm and without tears until the lady came around the corner calling out, “Jen. Jen.” Once she got up and headed over the floodgates opened. So many of us were unable to hold the tears back at that point. We hugged her as she cried and told her we loved her and that she was going to be okay. I remember thinking that Brandy and I are apparently the only ones in the hospital with sunglasses on at 9:00 in the morning. I walked straight over to Brandy and told her I needed to find the chapel. She looked a bit freaked out. I went to Jen’s mom and asked her if she knew where the Chapel was. She found out immediately and then said, to me, and I will never forget it, “Niki, if it is okay with you, Sue and I would consider it an honor and a privilege to go down and pray with you. Well, since you put it that way. OF COURSE!
She had prayed at dinner the other night and that was all I needed to seal the deal. Before you knew it the whole slew of us, Patty, Nate, Kacie, Jen’s Mom, Brandy, Sue, and myself were all in a circle praying for a very long time. I felt honored and blessed to be among all of these amazing people and I had the biggest smile on my face. That was the moment that for some reason I felt pretty good about things. I didn’t know what the outcome of the tumor de-bulking surgery was going to be, but seeing Jen’s mom and her Step Mother Patty holding hands and hugging. It was UNITY in it’s greatest light. In that moment… I felt peace come over me.
Brandy and I of course wore the sunglasses in the Chapel as well and kept our heads bowed as the tears collected on the lenses for over 5 solid minutes. Jen’s mom doesn’t just pray… SHE PRAYS. It was her own personal conversation with the Lord and she was going to make sure her message got across. By the end of that prayer we both looked up and all of that collected salt water on our lenses ran down like someone had just poured a drink over our heads. Ha Ha… Brandy had a huge wet spot all over her shirt that reminded me of my breastfeeding days and I asked her if she needed to go and change out her breast pads.
They told us that two people at a time could go back with her. I went in and French braided Jen’s hair. I happened to be blessed at the time that her Anesthesiologist came in because THAT was when the true comedy occurred. He gave Jen a little something to make her relax and it was hilarious. I wish I would of shot video to post for you all to see. Lets just say that she started going, “WHOA…WHOA… What is happening?” She was grabbing at the air and rubbing her tummy in circles while saying, “DUDE! DUDE! What is happening? WHOA…. Duuuuudddddeeeee.” It was priceless.
Jake didn’t feel it was as long as I did but I thought it was taking forever. I was good with that though because that meant they were really checking things out and taking their time. We went outside for walks, we laid around in the waiting room, and we surfed the Internet and then walked some more. 5 hours later the surgeon met us in the Private Family room to discuss her findings during the surgery. I remember feeling so honored that they all waited for Brandy and I to get back up there before discussing anything. We felt like we were part of the family and that was pretty special because it is pretty easy to feel alone on the surgical floor of a hospital.
First the Doc told us that the surgery went very well. They had successfully gotten the tumor down from 13cm to less than 1cm., which is always the goal in any tumor de-bulking procedure. If you can get it down to less than 1cm you have a higher chance at getting a cure. Next she told us that Jen went through quite the operation and that she had been through a lot. The tumor was wrapped from the left ovary, around the back of the uterus, and on to the other ovary. It was also on her bowels but they successfully grabbed the tumor off without the need for any resection or removal of the bowels. She said the Omentum was quite involved near the stomach and that they had placed an NG tube in her nose to minimize the work on her tummy. They said it needed to rest and not have to work at all. The left ovary was quite involved as well. In the approximately 13 inch vertical incision, she removed Jen’s Ovaries, Omentum, Uterus, Tubes, and several lymph nodes that were enlarged to 4cm in her pelvic area as well as all the way up by her aorta.
I am not going to lie, when I heard aorta I was scared, really scared. They said Jen had what was like flecks of rice and grains of sand all over inside of her abdominal cavity that was cancer she could not remove and that that would be the chemo’s job. I remember pausing my tears for a moment and laughing when Jen’s Dad asked why the doc couldn’t just scoop it all up with a big fishing net. Oh, if it were only that easy. The doc said we would start Chemo is 4-6 weeks. She put a port in Jen’s abdomen and they will also be putting a port in her neck near the clavicle, if they can talk Jen into it. She will be getting chemo in two spots during her Chemotherapy. We were all happy the surgery was over. We were relieved that they got the tumor down to less than 1cm knowing that gives you the best chance at a cure. We were a bit frightened by other things that were said but smiled when the doctor said she considered the surgery a success and that it went very well.
Off to the pub we went to breathe and take it all in. It would be several hours until Jen got out of recovery. Please keep her in your endless thoughts and prayers. She needs them and loves reading your blog comments. They give her strength and she knows there are a lot more stories out there like hers. She has heard of people beating it and that offers some sort of peace as she gears up for the chemo, takes it all in, grows closer to her God, and heals from this surgery.