Helping to Heal: Aid for Aims

Allo Er'ybody and thanks for stopping by to show your support for our dear friend Amy (aka Aimers, or as the nurse refers to her... 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.

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Shelby Gale 
Oceanside, CA
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