Sonya has already incurred close to $10,000 in out of pocket insurance expenses, and will have more to come as she begins chemotherapy in a few weeks. She has also had to come up with over $1,300 in travel/hotel accommodations to MD Anderson Hospital. Sonya will have to meet another steep deductible with the chemotherapy treatments, and will also incur more out of pocket expenditures after the insurance company pays their portion.
As I'm sure you can imagine, this has been a very difficult and humbling road and reaching out for help is not something Brad and Sonya would ever do on their own. However, I know their need is great, so I have asked them to allow all of us to wrap our arms around them and collectively help alleviate some of their stress. In doing so, I asked Sonya to share her story with us. I'm sure this wasn't easy for her to do, but thankfully, she has always kept a journal, so much of it was already written.
In mid August, I scheduled to have a colonoscopy done. I had turned “50” and since I tend to do everything on a timeline, I felt like it was time to have this done. No real issues, some bleeding, but much more as a “now I can check that off my list” type of procedure.
I wasn’t afraid, it was routine right? I vividly remember coming out of the sedative fog and hearing my doctor say, “we found a mass and I’m 95% sure that it’s cancer.” Even though I was sedated, I felt the trickle of a tear roll down my cheek. One look at my husband’s face, and reality sank in. The doctor also told Brad, that “we need to get in there and take everything out. She will have a colostomy.” That last bit had me reeling. I’m going to have a what?
Of course, because it was a Friday, I had the weekend to stew over this bad news. I know that we are not supposed to fear, but I’ll be candid enough to say that I was deeply afraid.
I met with the surgeon the following week and he suggested a very non-invasive surgery that wouldn’t have the same end result as I had been told. I was quite relieved on that score, but now to get through the surgery.
We scheduled the minor surgery for 2 weeks out and I came through that with flying colors. I thought that the worst was over. Boy was I wrong.
My follow up went great! I was told that they got it all and that the pathology showed that it was benign. Great news, right? But, on the heels of that victory I was told that I needed to see an Oncologist to discuss my results in detail. I really wasn’t alarmed because I had received the all clear. This was just a precautionary measure to go over my fabulous report.
I smugly walked into the Cancer Center all set for a 10 minute visit. The doctor came in and the words that followed that were a blur. He said, “Sonya, we took a second look at the pathology and it turns out, that it is cancer. You will need to have major surgery and then we’ll see.” To say that I was in shock is an understatement. I had already shared the good news. On facebook no less.
I really felt that I needed a second opinion, so we opted to see if I could be seen at M.D. Anderson. They were able to see me right away so off we went. I was so taken aback upon arrival when I saw hundreds of people with a plethora of cancer types going in and out of a massive building. How and why do all of these people have cancer? It was astounding to me. This was definitely getting real now.
I met with their team of experts who said that the surgery was necessary. I agreed to this radical, robotic surgery all the while thinking that they would go in, get it all out, and that would be it.
I came through the surgery with flying colors and was walking the halls on day 2. I was ready to come home and have my life back. Then came the call…..
My pathology report had not come back when I was released from the hospital, but they assured me that they would call as soon as it was and was instructed to try and take it easy and enjoy Thanksgiving. Yeah, right…
The call came on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. They led with the good news. “All your lymph nodes are clean and we got clear margins. You are now cancer free! We did, however see 1 tumor deposit that we were not expecting. You will need “mop up” chemo to take care of this. It has the potential to spread to other organs.” This was not what I wanted or expected to hear. You see, prayer had been going up all over the U.S. I had been prayed for several times and I had claimed and believed for my healing, but the fact of the matter was that God didn’t answer the way that I expected He might. There are still days when I struggle to understand, but this journey has changed my life. I come from good genes. There’s no cancer in our family tree. I eat right. I exercise. This was not supposed to happen, but it did and there must be a reason.
The good news is that God has me in the palm of His hand. Am I afraid, yes, but I feel protected. I know that nothing that happens in our life is happenstance. If my journey can make me a better person that has more empathy and compassion, then I will gladly walk this road. He is walking with me.
I begin chemo next week and the unknown of how that will affect me weighs heavily on my mind. Again, I am hopeful that all will be well. I have to believe that….
Thank you for in advance for anything small or great that you can do to help Sonya and Brad during this difficult season of their life. Christmas is just around the corner, so there is truly no better time to give.
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