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Thursday, July 14, 2016

My Pink Peak - Part 5

The titles are getting boring, I'm sure--I promise to start changing them up after the diagnosis stage!

Sunday was a lot of the same, but those questions started to really make us wonder.

I informed friends and family as I saw them and their reactions were always the same, utter shock, tears, and crickets. I quickly realized that being the one with cancer meant that those around me would also need comfort, something I hadn't realized before.

Texts, emails, calls, etc. kept flooding in, and the idea of rushing into surgery on Monday began to seem like something I could handle.

Then while lying down, for the first time, I was actually able to see the tumor from the outside. I knew it was growing, but was startled that I could see a change in the shape, so I texted my doctor. She--at a family reunion no less--responded quickly and basically said, we have to call as many surgeons as we can to get you seen as soon as possible. She wanted me to see Jennifer Tittensor, who specializes in this, but because of the timing, I said I was happy to do some research on the best surgeons for me, but didn't know what to do with the information that I found; she said they would call around first thing on Monday, using my list as a back up.

Great! Something to do!

Bring on ordering the pizza!

As I googled surgeons in Utah and Breast Cancer surgeons, etc., I pondered how to go about finding the best ones when the name Dr. Hill popped into my head. Interestingly, I know two Dr. Hills: Dr. Tracy Hill, a neighbor from my childhood neighborhood and ward, was a physician at Utah Valley for the length of his career before leaving to be a mission president in Norway. The other, Dr. Bruce Hill, a father of a friend from Grenada, a surgeon at Utah Valley--a surgeon that would likely know Dr. Tittensor. It was at that moment that I realized that I could make a list, but maybe even get help in getting in to see Dr. Tittensor.

Because Tracy Hill was a mission president, I reached out to his wife at evening; mind you it was roughly 2am in Norway. I explained my diagnosis and asked for Tracy's advice on who to go to, I wanted the best and I knew he would know them.

Then I reached out to my friend Lori. I kind of blindsided her with my diagnosis--I'd seen her twice in the few days leading up to the diagnosis, but had kept it to myself because who wants to drop "I have cancer" on a friend? I kind of choked out the diagnosis to her over the phone, and asked if I could ask a favor and if her dad would be able to help me get an appointment with Dr. Tittensor. She said she would talk to him and call me back.

That phone call changed it all. Dr. Hill called back and the first thing he did was clarify--he said there is no way at this point that they could possibly know it was stage III. He said that I had been misinformed, and that likely it was an unintentional error on the part of a family practitioner. He said I had probably been very upset about it, and that that diagnosis wouldn't come without surgery. He asked me information about the ultrasound and biopsy and explained procedures and was the first doctor to actually explain things to me--he wasn't even my doctor! I will be forever grateful to him. I mentioned Dr. Tittensor was the doctor my doctor wanted me to see and he said that not only was she his colleague (both general surgeons in the same group) that, "if it were my wife, that's who I would want her to see." He said he would reach out to Dr. Tittensor in the morning to get me an appointment. Wow.

I cannot express the relief I had when I got off the phone. I had finally been able to talk to someone about it medically speaking who was extremely knowledgeable and I was going to be able to meet with Dr. Tittensor. Both Ryan and I were so very grateful.

I went back to the message I had sent to Joeen Hill who had already responded with a ton of support love and an "of course! I'll ask Tracy in the morning!" reassurance. She also recommended I speak with a few people. I sent a quick message back mentioning that I had spoked with Bruce Hill and that he had recommended Dr. Tittensor. Again, she responded within minutes and said that another neighborhood friend actually worked for Dr. Tittensor and she knew she was wonderful.

We celebrated birthdays, ate cake, and two of my Blackhorse friends asked if they could come over ... Stacey and Jenn are amazing, and in a crazy turn of events, Jenn actually works for the imagine center where I had the biopsy.

They showed up with a bunch of cancer gifts from "the troops" and offers of food, babysitting, and you name it. We chatted for hours and it made me so grateful to have developed those friendships during our short time in our townhouse.

A blanket, scarf, mommy-and-me coloring book with colored pencils, a journal and pens (with breast cancer awareness on them no less), socks, hand sanitizer, mints, and what I thought was some bottled water. (It wasn't until they left that Ryan told me it was ginger ale.) I mean really--could a girl have any better friends?  

The bag that they brought was so incredibly thoughtful, I know they had to have been pacing the stores looking for the right things to give to a cancer patient.

Oh my gosh. I just wrote that. I'm a cancer patient.


Haylee said...

McKenzie!! I had a random thought to look at your blog today, only to find all of these updates! I am so sorry for your new news, but also thankful for all your tender mercies along the way! I know the future will hold many difficult challenges, but I have no doubt that you were given this challenge to bless the lives of others. Just in your few posts, you show so much strength and faith! I know that strength and faith will bless the many lives that will follow you on this journey! Sending you thoughts, prayers, and love! You've got this!

Shelly said...

McKenzie, I am so sorry to hear about the cancer. You and your family will be in our prayers.

Shannon Beck said...

My first impression in reading this series of posts was that I admire how close to the spirit you are. How amazing that you had those impressions and acted on them...I honestly don't know if I would have done the same. You are such a strong woman, and I have no doubt at all that you can beat this.

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