Helping to Heal: Aid for Aims
thebomb.com) and check on her progress!
What a whirlwind it has been. To give an accurate description of events I'll need to back up about a month or so, when Amy first visited the doctor complaining that things just weren't feeling right. Sure enough, after an ultrasound, it became obvious that they weren't. When Amy came back from the doctor reporting that they found a mass on her uterus and then said it was the size of an avocado I literally didn't believe that could even be possible, the statement that followed seemed inconsequential, the tumor was blocking the ultrasound's access to the left ovary.
For the next several minutes we talked about the possibilities and after employing google we were mostly certain that the mass was a simple friendly fibroid, which reportedly affect up to 1 in 5 women of childbearing age.
Amy named him Nelson.
He quickly became notorious amongst our group of friends and was often a source of comedic relief. "Amy, party of two". "I see you brought your friend" or the general, "How's Nelson"? was par for the course, but little by little symptoms started becoming more and more intolerable.
At first Amy would complain of rough nights feeling 'not well'. Then eating became an issue. Nelson was taking up so much space that room for food was becoming drastically diminished. She noticed changes seemingly daily. A constant feeling of needing to pee, with nothing coming out. Not to mention the once avocado-sized lump that seemed to have grown exponentially in just a matter of 2-3 weeks. We all still thought nothing of it. So when I got the call on December 11th from a desperate Amy asking for a ride to the emergency room, it seemed like a logical, but still light-hearted endeavor. On the way we laughed through the pain, joking about how Nelson had overstayed his welcome and it was simply time for him to be evicted.
That night I didn't hesitate to leave for work, thinking she would be released later the same evening. When I got off of work, she said she was going to stay in the hospital over night because during the blood work they had discovered high levels of calcium... whatever that means.
The next morning I woke up to the message:
"I might need a friend with me. I was just told that my MRI looked bad and my calcium levels are still really high. My doctor can no longer do surgery, another specialist will do it because there's now concern it's cancer."
If shock feels like utter disbelief, then I guess that's what the feeling was. No way. I employ google again. Ovarian cancer is found predominately in post-menopausal women. Amy is 35. In the 8 years we've been friends, I can't begin to tell you how often we would talk about starting families and being moms. It wasn't always deep conversation, mostly just the "when I have kids" type of scenario, so when I decided to be a surrogate, Amy took the news with as much excitement for the upcoming journey as I did. She was a huge source of support for me. She was fascinated and excited for everything, and I was excited to have someone to tell. I can't begin to explain how much her support and curiosity strengthened me. Being a single girl at the time, it was truly remarkable to have that one person that I could share everything with, who was as excited as I was, because if anybody in the world could comprehend the magnitude of how amazing it is to have that gift, that person is Amy.
The last few days have felt like the twilight zone, bad news piled onto worse news. Theories and suggestions for our already overwhelmed minds. What went from a simple tumor removal turned into talk of hysterectomy with bilateral oophorectomy and salpingectomy. We didn't even know there could be anything left after a hysterectomy, but we've gotten a crash course in the female reproductive parts and their associated medical procedures.
On Friday morning Amy signed the consent that forever changed her life and on Saturday morning she woke up at least 3 Greek root words shy of a functional reproductive system. The oncologist portrayed a dripping, crumbling ruins of what was once hopes and dreams.
Amy is two days out of surgery and learned yesterday that the tentative diagnosis is plainly and simply ovarian cancer, stage and specifics are To Be Determined. Chemotherapy is inevitable.
The one thing that has stayed consistent throughout is Amy's positive and upbeat attitude. She has a character that plainly shows that she is no stranger to adversity. She is a pillar of strength and light to those around her and even though the road to recovery is a long and hard one she will not only get there, she will stop and smell the roses along the way. Amy doesn't just see the bright side, she lives in it.
Amy is so grateful for the support and love that everyone has shown, but I know that the emotional and physical help can only go so far. Amy will be out of work a minimum of 6 weeks and will need a way to make ends meet in the mean time. Those of us fortunate enough to be around her are offering up whatever we can to make those weeks as stress free as possible, but once the bills start rolling in you can imagine that might have an effect. So, I invite you to invest in Amy's journey, whether it be financially or even just emotionally, because when all is said and done there is gain to be had on both ends.
Posted by Shelby Gale
So, I promised an update this weekend, and surely it's still the weekend somewhere...? I had the opportunity to go with Amy and her momma to the follow-up appointment with Dr. Ghosh (Dr. G did the surgery and is Amy's GYN-Oncologist). What an eye-opener. So, by now we know that "Nelson"(rest in peace) was a God send and not the villain we once thought. Turns out that our friend Amy had a very rare (and very aggressive) form of ovarian cancer called Hypercalcemic Small Cell Carcinoma that was caught in stage 1-C (thanks to Nelson being such a pain in the uterus). Dr. G wants to proceed A.S.A.P with Chemotherapy and Amy will have her first appointment with her "chemo doctor" this Thursday. We LOVE YOU and are all here for you AMY!
Also, Amy has begun with her spin on our 'rewards'! Feel free to leave comments on here letting her know how much you loved them... I'm quite curious myself. :0)
Posted by Shelby Gale
Posted by Shelby Gale
Here's the bullet points:
Amy's momma, Jeanne, sent me an update this morning via text, but I fell asleep at the mention of "insurance paperwork", so who knows what the rest said.
Anne spent an hour or more yesterday getting the rubber-band ball of what was Amy's hair to take on more hair-like properties. I think we were all happy that Amy finally showered... I mean for you Amy. We're happy for you. We love your smell.
Lilly (also of the Ortega household a.k.a. Recovery Central) came home today, feeling undoubtedly unloved, as Marley didn't come a runnin'. He was instead positioned outside of Amy's room looking intently at a very closed door. Poor guy.
To sum it all up, it's weird seeing Amy in things that close in the front.
And the world spins madly on... (good song).
We love you all, each and everyone, but (*whispers--->) You're actually my favorite.
Posted by Shelby Gale
A friend of ours wrote a check for the fundraiser and I would like to mail it in. Where can I send it?
Hey Girl! Keep your spirits up and know we are praying for you. You have been such a wonderful part of our lives and brighten everyone you meet. Keep your heart strong and focused and know that your are loved.
The New Year comes with so much happening in your life. With the New Year you continue to have so much support from friends and family and are much loved. We are all here for you if you need anything. You just call and anyone of us will come running. God Bless you.
I know saying Happy New Year can feel confusing at this time. But it is new step into a new
To Shelby: It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. E.B. White, Charlotte's Web
Beautiful Amy. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Although this is a journey that no one deserves you have such a strong spirit and a grace like no other. I am confident that you have the strength and the courage to kick this. There is so much beauty and Art in the world. We need you to heal so you can help others see the beauty and life that you see that us non artsy folks take for granted. Enjoy the pajama days and know that you are loved by so many.
Amy, Icannot believe how strong you are during this time. I am going to do all that I can and even hit up the company see if there is anything at all that can be done to help you in your time of need. Stay strong and believe we r all praying for you and your speedy recovery. You are an amazing person that can get thru anything. This sickness does not realize the warrior it has chosen to tangle with. Fight on and fight strong. We r always here for u
Hey Amy, stay strong. New York is with you. When things seem to be at their worst, that's when we find ourselves at our best. And just know, your not alone. We are all fighting this with you. Stay strong and be our hero. Happy holidays and god bless
I am in tears at the wonderful things people have written and the incredible amount of support we have received in only 1 day! Just when I think the world can be such a cruel place, I look at all of these amazing people who are reaching out, even those that don't even know Amy. Thank you all for your generosity and incredible words. That is exactly what is going to get our Amy through this.
Thinking of you Amy you are much loved by all! Keith and Connie Dyer
See you tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day and thousands of days after every next day!!!! I love you Amy! XOXOXOX
I am so happy to see Joey there! Missing you ladies tonight. See you in the morning!