My name is Angela I am 43.  I am a proud mother to four amazing children, five beautiful grandchildren, and I have been blessed with an amazing husband who is my rock. I am a nurse in a maximum security prison .  People are always surprised,  they ask me if I it is scary, or even why I would want to work in a prison. Truth is I love being a nurse, and I believe there is a place for everyone. Mine just happens to be behind the prison walls, taking care of criminals.  To me they are Patients.  So the picture above is me, this time last year, school shopping with my two younger children.  What a difference a year makes. Last year we were stressed trying to prepare for school, This year I am fighting for my life. My story began June 22 , 2018. Just one day after my children finished 6th and 7th grade. I had left work early, came home , skipped dinner,  and hit the bed. I was exhausted.  I woke up in the early morning  hours of June 23, 2018 doubled over in pain. I had uncontrollable lower abdominal and lower back pain.  After a few hours I gave in and went to the hospital. After pain meds, xrays, a ct scan and ultrasound,  The Dr. told me I had a fibroid and a uti.  Sent me home with a script for antibiotics,  and recommended following up with my Gynecologist.  I saw my Gyn 2 days later , she said I had a  large fibroid that was the culprit of my pain. She recommended I see her associate for a partial hysterectomy.  She said they would leave the ovaries intact to avoid menopause,  and assured me I would be good as new.  Surgery was scheduled for July 27th. A month away but I kept on working,  and figured the pain wouldnt be forever.  Unfortunately July 2nd  I was at work getting ready for my med pass when I broke out in a sweat,  and had to run to the bathroom to vomit. I was sent home by my charge nurse, so I drove myself to the hospital just to get checked out. I didnt call anyone because I didnt want to alarm them for no reason.  I was sure it was nothing, but this time I was wrong. After again labs, ct scan, and ultrasound the Dr. came in to tell me that I was being admitted because the fibroid was now causing a bowel obstruction, and was also blocking my left ureter which caused  me to develop pylenephritis in my left kidney. That ER visit landed me in the hospital from July 2nd, 2018 to July 6th, 2018. I was given IV antibiotics,  and begged my Drs everday to just take the fibroid out. I was already in the hospital, but the Dr said fibroids are non-emergent , and my surgery was only 3 weeks away. I was stressed, I was losing income because I was out of work. My husband was let go from his job of 12 years a year ago after a work injury that  required extensive shoulder and labrum surgery,  and 9 months of physical therapy.  So my income is how we lived, and with two little ones at home I really couldnt afford to be sick. So finally July 27th arrived, off to the hospital we went, 4hrs later Yayyyyyyy, the horrible fibroid was gone. I was very sore when I woke up, but the back and hip and leg pains were gone, and I was sore but happy. The surgeon saw me the next morning,  she was telling me how she was surprised by the size of the fibroid.  She described it as the size of a full term babys head. I believed her because I felt like I had delivered a baby, even had some stitches as a parting gift. I went home on July 28th, and although I was given 6wks of FMLA, I couldn't stay home for six weeks. I missed working, and financially it was not realistic. So on August 9th I went in for my 2 week post op appt. I felt great and I begged my surgeon to release me back to work.  After a long talk reluctantly she agreed,  as long as I was careful.  I left her office so happy, I was going back to work. Just in time because I was out of work on unpaid leave because my time had been used for dr visits, er visits, hospital stays and then surgery wiped out the remaining time I had. I was only out of  her office for a few hours when I received a phonecall from my surgeon asking me if I could come back to her office. I was really confused.  I asked if we could do it Monday and she said she needed me to come vack as soon as possible.  I went in to her office with my husband about 45 minutes later and she began with an apology.  The surgeon had received my pathology report after my visit, and to my surprise had called me back to tell me that my fibroid came back malignant,  my diagnosis was Uterine Leiomyosarcoma.  I cried. My husband cried. My surgeon kept apologizing.  She went on to tell me how aggressive and rare this cancer was. I went home that day and lay in bed and cried. I wasnt afraid, I just felt overwhelmed with guilt. I felt like I was failing my family. Who would take care of my children? How would my husband do it all alone?
How would I tell my older children, How would I tell my parents? My sister had died in 2016 of Bladder Cancer. We were all still healing from losing her. I went home thst day got in bed snd just slept. I woke up realizing this was all real, and I really have Cancer. I returned to work on Monday. I didnt tell my colleagues,  I didnt want anyone to know.  I met my Oncologist that Wednesday,  started the grueling road of testing. I went on to find out over tge next 2 weeks after  a second opinion on the pathology, ct scans, and a pet scan . That my ovaries need to come out, because this type of sarcoma is reactive to. Progesterone and Estrogen . Then another bomb gets dropped on me my pet scan revealed a tumor in the left ovary.  I felt ill. So here I am dealing with a cancer that is rare , aggressive,  requiring  scans every 3 months for the first thre years.  This cancer does not respond to Chemotherapy or Radiation,  only surgical intervention. But even with the best care has a reoccurrence rate of 8-16 months after initial diagnosis, they only approach is surgical removal of tumors. And with all that it still only has a 50% survival rate past 5years. I am scheduled for removal of my ovaries on Sept 17th 2018. With an expected 6 wk recovery time. This will be my second surgery in less than 8 weeks. I am scared for my children , but I will fight until I cant fight anymore. Financially I am worried for this is all unpaid leave. My job is protected but per our contract you have to pay your benefits yourself in order to maintain them. I dont know how Im going to get through this, but I am hopefull. Im not ready to go, and for anyone else out there who has been touched by this type or any type of cancer my heart goes out to you.  Any monies raised will be used to cover costs of me being out of work, and maintaining my health insurance.  My Thanks to anyone who can help. Thank you. My prayers to anyone fighting any tupe of cancer.


Angela Furgus
Blackwood, NJ

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