Stephanie's Cancer Journey

Hi everyone, my name is Stephanie and this is my story!
About 2 years ago I went to the doctor with a lump under my left bum cheek.  At the time it wasn't too concerning, so they put me on a wait list, ensuring there was nothing to worry about, or as they put it, "Don't worry, it isn't cancer". 
Fast forward two years, and many phone calls, I finally got through to someone and explained how this lump has now grown to the size of my fist and my day-to-day life has become very uncomfortable. A routine surgery to remove what they thought was a lipoma was scheduled for July 5, 2017 (fun fact, also me and my boyfriend's 10 year anniversary, what timing!) The surgery went as planned and i was home and recovering, oh yeah, did I mention i also have a 2 year old daughter! Try sitting still to recover while taking care of a toddler, that is a challenge.
A few weeks later the surgeon called me in for a followup visit. I thought he was going to check my stitches and send me on my way....that wasn't even on his agenda. He sat me down and explained how the, now "tumour",  he removed was actually NOT a lipoma, as originally suspected, but indeed, a tumor.

The day my life changed forever.

Because they didn't know of the cancer before surgery, they did not remove all the cells that they should have.
(also a fun bit of information, one simple scan before the first surgery would have saved me from having muliple surgeries)

August 16, 2017- my first trip to Cancercare Manitoba (and one day before my daughter's 2nd birthday) I am told the type of cancer i have (dermatofibrosarcoma) is not a cancer that is known to spread, but is known to recur. Another surgery is now being planned to remove an extra 10-15cm of soft tissue in the same area to try and make sure that will not happen.

Aug 21, 2017 - A CT scan in the morning and an MRI in the afternoon.

The CT scan of my chest is clear (thankfully) but the MRI shows a second "large mass" in my upper thigh/bum area...sigh. A biopsy will later show this mass is a whooping 9inches long.

Multiple last minute calls for appointments, multiple calls to come in for blood work, 1 day notice for an "emergency biopsies", you name it. The stress. The continuous missed days of work.

Then finally a date for surgery.  Since I already had the first surgery, the cells have been "agitated" and waiting too long is not an option.

October 30, 2017.  One day before halloween :( As a mom, that's hard.

I am told it will be about a 6 hour surgery, about 5 days recovery in the hospital and another month before I might be able to get up and walk around. After that another month or two of recovery.

This second mass has a "finger" wrapped around my femur, that will be tricky to remove.  He will also be working in and around the sciatic nerve, which he tells me will probably be quite painful. He plans to remove 7-8cm in skin/tissue from my right buttock, and attach to the left, where there will be 10-15cm of tissue missing from the cancer cells he must remove. He will need to stitch together 1mm wide blood vessels and hope the blood flows. He says if its not flowing within 6 hours of the surgery the tissue will all die and they will need to take from another part of the body. Quite a scary thought.
There will be plastic surgery, skin grafts, and a lot of tummy-laying.

 I am the primary caregiver to my 2 year old angel, Ruby. I get up with her in the morning, make her breakfast, get her dressed and packed up for daycare. I drop her off every day before work and pick her up on my way home. I make her supper, play with her, and get her ready for bed. Now, when you are used to doing this for two whole years, the thought of being anywhere but with her everyday is quite a lot to take in. I will be stuck in the hospital for almost a week.  Almost a whole week of me not being home to wake up with her, or to tuck her in at night.

Thank you for listening to my story, and sorry if I rambled on a litte too long! It has been a process for sure, and everything is happening so fast.

Your donation money would help me greatly in my time away from work. I will need help caring for my daughter and myself while I'm not able to. I have car payments, daycare payments, mortgage payments, and the list goes on.

My boyfriend, and father to Ruby, would love to be able to be by my side supporting me. He has been working double time for all the days that I've needed to be off. It's very tough going through such an ordeal, and having the person who should be able to be your number 1, having to put all their extra time and energy into supporting the family financially. It would be a huge weight off our shoulders to be able to spend this time together.I can't even begin to imagine how i might do that without help, so thank you again, in advance <3

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Stephanie Bowes 
Winnipeg, MB
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