By Lindsay Lorraine
My dad happened to be visiting for Christmas. I remember sitting beside him on the couch watching my one-year-old playing. I looked at him, with what little energy I had and started crying, “Something is seriously wrong with me, I know it. I’m telling you now that this baby is going to be early and something is VERY wrong with my body.”
December 2017: At eight months pregnant, I knew something was wrong in my body. I was weaker than I was with my last pregnancy, I was having breathing and memory issues, and I had hard lumps in my armpits and a few other lymph node issues.
Little did we all know, I was completely right. Things were not okay. I had already been to the hospital earlier that month because of intestinal issues but was blown off by the GI specialist. “It’s just a Crohn’s Disease flare up, here’s some prednisone” is what I got. I knew it wasn’t Crohn’s Disease, but how dare I know my body better than a doctor who literally just met me?
December 23: Our little girl made her entrance into this world at 35 weeks and four days, weighing in at five pounds. I had been induced because I was showing signs of preeclampsia, but that’s not necessarily what it was.
Looking back at my lab work from November 2017, there were so many red flags. Critically low minerals and vitamins, all red flagged, all missed by my OBGYN, all of the doctors I saw mid December — all five doctors.
After baby girl arrived, she stayed in the NICU and we stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for a week. Each morning, I would walk up to the hospital, noticing more and more that this simple task was getting harder and harder and I was getting weaker. I had so many random symptoms, too: numbness in my lower jaw, my teeth were painful to the point it hurt to eat, I had fallen twice because my legs couldn’t keep up with my brain.
January 12: After X-rays and bloodwork, I walked into my family doctor’s office after falling asleep on my bed at home after a shower. I should say, passing out and being semi-unconscious. I had pushed my family doctor for more tests because he was the only one taking me seriously. We discussed my X-rays and lab results, and next thing I know he’s telling me, “Lindsay, you don’t look well. I’m going to call an ambulance and send you to the hospital.”
I remember being strapped to the gurney and wheeled through the waiting room, thinking “oh god, this is so embarrassing.”
I called my husband, told him what was going on. My mother-in-law was with me and had the girls, she was taking them home.
I don’t remember being in the emergency room. I don’t remember not remembering my husband when he got there from work. I don’t remember putting up a fight about IV placement (I hated needles).
The morning of January 16 or 17 (these memories are a little fuzzy): My hands are restrained and my eyes are open but I see a black and white tunnel and as I am thrashing around in my hospital bed, I’m hearing, like a broken record, “Everything is going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay now.” Then my world went black again.
What I didn’t know was my hands were restrained because they were extubating me, I didn’t know I had had two surgeries, a round of dialysis, and organs removed. I didn’t know that I was bleeding profusely from a bowel resection that didn’t hold, and I didn’t know that five days had passed. I didn’t know I had cancer.
My husband sat there beside me, his trembling hand clutching mine. “They found tumours on your ovaries and intestine. They believe it’s cancer.” As he proceeded to tell me they removed my ovaries and a part of my bowel.
I remember looking at him, in a drug induced daze and completely chill — “Okay, what’s next?”
I don’t know why but cancer didn’t scare me. It didn’t scare me that I had a less than 10 per cent chance of survival, that I was now a statistic.
Cancer didn’t scare me until February 3, after my first round of chemo sent me into the ICU while bleeding out with my blood pressure bottoming out at 52/32. As I’m being wheeled down the hallway to the ICU, completely conscious and aware of what is happening to me, my life flashed before my eyes.
I saw my daughters with my husband, going to their first day of school, without me. Graduating without me, getting married without me. My husband’s broken heart as he did all of this without me. That’s what scared me.
That’s what truly scared the shit out of me. I had fight in me before this, but not the kind of fight I had after my life flashed before my eyes. I was not becoming a statistic and I was going to come out the other side of this, no matter how hard it was. And that is what I did.
I’ll leave some of this for another day, if there’s one take away I hope you get from this, it’s that you need to advocate for yourself, you need to push your doctors, you need to stay on them if you feel something is wrong. Don’t let things get swept under the rug. Listen to your mind, your gut, and your heart. No one knows you better than you know yourself.