On May 16, 2019, The Peterson Family's life took an unexpected turn.
Lauren Torbett Peterson was diagnosed with Colon Cancer. This diagnosis comes at a busy time in her life, she is a wife, mother of four beautiful girls, a daughter, sister, wonderful friend and amazing nurse. She is also the strongest, toughest women we know, and we know she will get through this, but we would like to make that journey just a little easier for the Peterson Family.
Lauren will have a surgery on May 20th to remove part of her colon, liver and her entire gallbladder. She will remain in the hospital most of the week to recover, and then return home to heal until she is ready to begin the next stage of treatment. She will be receiving chemo and radiation for the remainder of 2019, and the family is beginning to plan for that phase of the treatment. They are also researching additional treatments.
Anyone that knows Lauren, knows she is one of the busiest and hardest working people in the world. She raises four funny, energetic, wonderful girls during the day and works full-time as a Labor and Delivery Nurse by night. She is currently on short-term disability and will only be receiving a percentage of her paycheck.
Our hope is that Lauren will be able to focus on healing and family, and not have to work during her recovery. Even with insurance, surgeries, treatments, and medicine all add up. We would like to lift the financial hardships for the Peterson Family so they can focus on health and each other.
Feb 2019: Blood in Stool. It’s been more consistent. I’m worried, but I self talk it’s nothing. I text Mike while he is in Chicago and tell him I think I want to make a GI appointment. He urges me that’s a good idea.
April 3, 2019: Winchester GI appointment with Dr. Shih’s PA. A nonchalant meeting to go over my history. We chat about how I’m a healthy 35 year old, about how she just had a baby and that I’m a labor and delivery nurse. “It’s most likely internal hemorrhoids,” she says, “Any pain, itching, burning? Are you straining?” “No,” I respond. “Ok, I recommend you get a colonoscopy to confirm,” she says. I’m relieved. It’s what I was hoping she would say.
Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 12pm: Start bowel prep! I stay home to be close to a toilet, apparently I will need to!
Wednesday, May 15, 2019 9am: Arrive at Blue Ridge endoscopy center. Mike goes to work but my mom is with me because you have to have someone to drive you home. I urge her to grab a bite to eat or even leave, I can call her when I’m done. She stays and says she has phone calls and she’ll catch up on emails. Nurse Sherry starts an IV and says Colonoscopy should only take 20 min. I’m wheeled back to procedure room. We joke it was just my birthday and they will give me birthday spankings I laugh, we talk about how I’m a nurse, then I’m asleep. 10:45am I’m in recovery, proprofol was amazing. I’m directed to change and meet Dr. Shih in her office. My mom joins me. “So how long have you had blood in your stool?” She asks. I explain again and she proceeds with the next few things... ◦ I don’t like what I saw ◦ Without have pathology reports resulted I think it looks like cancer ◦ You will need a CT scan ◦ You will need surgery ◦ You will recover and all should be well She is sending my report to Dr. Wagner (surgical oncologist, who happens to be my neighbor) I leave the office to get labs draw, go home with my mom. My phone call to Mike was to the point. “They think I have cancer...I wish you had been with me...” 10 min after we talk, I text him to come home.
3:45pm: Mike is home, Dr. Wagner’s office calls me and wants to see me. Mike and I rush at the opportunity. My mom was anxious for me to go so, of course, agreed to take care of afternoon soccer and dinner.
4:15pm: We are minutes from our house and on the hospital campus that I work, but we are following signs for the cancer center....why? We park and Mike holds my hand as we walk behind an elderly couple and I think to myself, will that still be us? Will I be that old one day?
4:30pm Dr. Wagner sees us...his office is about to close, but he was adamant about wanting to see me and moving forward with the next steps. We go over “what if’s” but I’m young and healthy, he says.
5:15pm: Mike and I head to dinner and drinks together to begin processing everything that was said. We begin calling family, and we are texting with friends.
Thursday, May 16, 2019, 6:15am: Alarm goes off to take my contrast for my CT scan. It says on label ‘better if chilled’ OOPS! I chug what is suppose taste like a berry smoothie. I have a headache from the IPAs I drank the night before and can’t drink water until after the scan.
8:00am: We arrive at Winchester imaging. After registering and a small wait I’m taken back. “I’ll have her back in 20 min,” the tech spoke to Mike, after I asked if he could come with me. A quick IV was placed for my contrast, I laid down and listened to what I was told to do, but I closed my eyes and prayed.
9:00am: We are home, I crawled back in bed after chugging water and took a nap.
11:20am: Dr Wagner calls and wakes me up. “So the scan wasn’t clean, your pathology results are positive and you have 2 spots on your liver. It’s now Stage 4a Colon Cancer. Our plans have to change.....” “Fuck,” I say, and I’m shaking as I listen to his details about surgery and treatment that should start next week. Mike had just left for work but was staying close to home. He hadn’t got far when I told him to come home immediately, I was crying and shaking. I was having a hard time saying ‘colon cancer’ in relation to myself.
12:30pm: I change my mood, I have to, I had promised Penny I would be at a belated “muffins and mommies” event at her school. That was hard.
1:15pm: Mike and I drive to Dr. Wagners office. Stuff was said, my scan was reviewed. The new plan included surgery on Monday to remove part of my colon and liver. Cut out the cancer. Recover from surgery in next coming weeks and discuss chemo treatment plans.
3:45pm: We are in our living room, we tell the news to the girls. There are tears and questions. I remain calm and say “I will get better!” The rest of my night was a blur.
Friday, 7:00am: Winchester Medical Center, pre-op registration.
9:30am: CVS pharmacy to pick up day before surgery meds and, yet another, bowel prep supplies. Our Yukon is packed for river. It’s where I want to be for the weekend.
Today, Saturday, May 18, 2019, 5:30am: I wake up and realize it’s still not a dream. This is my new normal. I feel great, I feel fine. I have never felt so empowered by the love and prayers I am receiving. I am awestruck. I have to get through this, and I know I will. This is my journey with Colon Cancer.