Friday, June 10, 2011

The C-Word: 1 Year Ago Today

Exactly a year ago I was lying in Emma's bed, curled up in a ball, and had cried so many tears that my face looked swollen.  I was exhausted emotionally.  I had a horrible headache (probably from all the crying), and couldn't eat.  I lost 5 lbs. in 4 days.  Oh, it was horrible.  
Thursday, June 10, 2010.  The scariest day of my life.  I was scheduled for a CT scan at LDS Hospital at 10am.  I dropped my kids off at my friend's, Selena's house and drove the 12 minutes to the hospital.  I checked in for my appt and remember sitting in the waiting room, and actually typed in a status update on Facebook.  It said "Jamie Call Schipaanboord is getting a CT scan of my lungs. Hoping we can figure out what's causing my breathing problems."  If I would have know it was cancer, I would have never posted that.  All along I thought my pneumonia from 7 months before hadn't completely cleared.  I never thought I had something seriously wrong with me.  Never.  I was a healthy, active 29 year old mom of 3.  There was no way it could be 'serious.'  The CT scan ended and I was back picking my kids up by 11am.  Around noon I told the kids we were going to make a DI run and drop off some of our old clothes.  We were in the DI parking lot when my phone rang.  I had been out of the hospital less than 90 minutes and my dr was calling me.  I answered the phone in a chipper voice, and asked if we finally found out what was wrong with me.  He said "Yes.  We did."  Then I exclaimed "Ohhh, good!!  I'm so glad we finally have some answers."  He asked if I could come meet him at his office soon.  I mentioned I was at the DI and only 5 minutes away and so he told me to come over right then and he would be waiting.  I called Jake to let him know they had some answers and he asked if I wanted him there.  I said "No.  I'll just call you when I'm done."  Jake was 20 minutes away and I figured the appointment wouldn't take long.  I wasn't worried.  I brought all three kids into the office with me and the first thing my dr said when he saw me was "You brought your kids?!"  Even then it still wasn't clicking.  We walked into his office and the kids sat down in the chairs against the wall and I sat in the chair next to Dr. Williams' computer.  He pulled up the scan of my lungs on the screen and pointed to my collapsed middle lobe.  "See this, it's a mass blocking your middle lobe, and it is collapsed.  That's why you've had trouble breathing."  Even then, I still wasn't getting it.  I told him "Oh. So, how do we fix it?"  Then he said it was a tumor.  He hesitated for a second or two, then said the dreaded C-word.  Cancer.  Right then my life flashed before my eyes.  He couldn't have just said what I thought he said.  What?!!  I had never smoked.  I took care of my body.  I exercised 5 days a week.  I ate healthy.  CANCER??  I was shocked.  Stunned.  I looked over at my kids and Emma and Josh weren't paying attention at all to our conversation, but my 7 year old, Ben was.  He had a concerned look on his face.  He could tell whatever we were discussing was serious.  I had to be strong for my kids.  I couldn't burst out into tears.  I held it in.  My dr's lip started to quiver a little bit and his eyes got teary.  That pushed me to my breaking point and I managed to cry 3 or 4 tears but quickly wiped them away.  Then I asked "What's next?"  Dr. Williams told me about a bronchoscopy I was going to need done asap so we could know the extent of the situation.  The rest of our conversation was kind of a blur.  I remember he said he was available any time if I needed to talk, and that was that.  I walked out of his office, holding my little 2 year old's hand.  I felt like someone had just punched me HARD in the gut, over and over and over again.  I was lightheaded and shaky.  I didn't know if I would puke or pass out.  I kept walking.  The four of us made our way to our van and I opened the door and let them all in.  I made sure they were all buckled, and closed their door.  I climbed into the driver's seat, shut my door, and slowly pulled out my cell phone.  My hand was trembling and I could barely dial Jake's number.  He picked up within 2 rings and I just began to sob.  I could barely get the C-word out.  All I could hear from the other end was "NO! Jamie.  NOOOO!!"  I told him I would meet him at home and he left work immediately.  Next I called my dad.  Again, I could barely get the words out.  My dad was very calm and that helped me.  I got off the phone with him and right away my dr called and asked how I was holding up.  It touched my heart that he would call so soon and check up on me.  I asked him if he was certain this was cancer, that this wasn't some huge mistake.  He assured me that he would not have told me and made me go through this if he wasn't sure.  He said that quite a few doctors/specialists had looked at my scan and all agreed on the diagnosis.  After our phone call ended, I started the car and tried to drive.  It's amazing I made it home without getting in an accident.  Tears filled my eyes, my vision was blurred.  I could barely see straight.  As I pulled into our driveway, I called my Grammy.  She was in California at the time and I felt bad that I would be putting a damper on her trip, but with her bout with breast cancer (twice) I knew she would be able to say words of comfort I needed to hear, which she did.  After our call ended, I made my way into the house and plopped on the couch.  Jake got home within minutes and we just hugged and cried.  I sent a quick email to my 5 close girlfriends, letting them know the news.  Then I called my good friend, Susi and told her.  Within the hour Jake's mom arrived.  Then a few minutes more Jake's dad.  Jake and his dad gave me a blessing.  We all talked and cried, and felt some hope as Jake's dad told us he had done some research and talked to another dr about my cancer, telling me this really was the "best cancer to have."  I spoke to my mom when she got home from work and she provided some calming words.  That afternoon it seemed like my news spread like wildfire and within an hour I had tons of people calling, texting, and emailing.  Flowers were delivered from Jake's work.  People were so sweet.  That night was Emma's dress rehearsal for her recital so we stopped by Rumbi's to pick up dinner before we went to her rehearsal.  I ate a few bites but could barely swallow them.  I felt so sick to my stomach from nerves, worry, and stress.  I watched Emma dance and remember thinking "These people around me have no clue I'm sick.  I don't look sick.  But I have cancer."  It was such a weird feeling.  When we got home there was a message on our answering machine from my mom.  This time she was more emotional, saying she knew it would be okay and she would be willing to do whatever we needed.  (She lives two states away and ended up spending 6 weeks of her summer with us, helping me, Jake, and the kids while I recovered from surgery.)  Our Bishop came over and checked on us, making sure we were okay and asked if we needed anything.  I remember him telling us that I had just joined an "exclusive club" with many, many other people... amazing, strong people.  That night I remember Jake praying for our family and specifically for me, and crying.  Then he put Ben and Emma to bed and I went upstairs to take Josh.  I rocked him in our lazyboy recliner.  I began singing him a song and couldn't make it through one line before I started to cry.  Horrible thoughts came into my head that I could die and my kids wouldn't even know who I was.  That I would never see my kids grown.  That my 2 year old wouldn't know his mommy.  Oh, I bawled.  I bawled like a baby.  That night I was drained.  June 10, 2010 was the worst day of my life.
Thankfully everything moved very quickly after that.  We had the bronchoscopy the following Monday at LDS Hospital.  We found out it was a carcinoid tumor, over 2cm, connected to my middle and possibly my lower lobes and it needed to come out, along with some of my right lung.  June 23rd I had a bi-lobectomy, taking 70% of my right lung, and June 25th after my labs came back, I was declared cancer-free.  What a crazy year it's been.  Hoping and praying this was just a small bump in my road of life and I'll be cancer-free forever!  I'm thankful for capable doctors.  For all my many friends.  For my dear family.  Without all of you I don't know how my family and I would have survived this past year.  Thank you.  I love you.    


Adrian Pratt said...

Oh my God, what a horrendous experience. I am so glad you made it through. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

Jeremy and Naomi said...

I cried reading this, remembering the call last year - you just never expect things like this to happen to people you know and love. I'm so grateful that everything went as well as it did and that you are healthy (super healthy;o)) Thank you for sharing and for inspiring. You are amazing and I love you!
Isn't it time that I take another trip?! :)

Sonja said...

I was at school walking with my co-workers yesterday and said, " This is Jamie's one year anniversary finding out about her cancer!" I guess it will be another day to remember, just like birthdays and anniversaries from now on.

You were a trooper and now you are healthy and can cherish every day with your family like it is your last:)

Love you!

Nurse Heidi said...

Way to end your 20's with a BANG! Here's to a fantastic round of the 30's! You can look back now and realize that you are stronger and more capable now than you ever thought possible a year ago - life shaking events have a way of doing that.

Zach said...

I'm super impressed with what you've overcome in the last year. I can only imagine the range of emotions that you've dealt with on top of the physical trials of surgery and recovery.

Thanks for showing how to do it with grace and poise.

Kim Mappes said...

Hi Jamie - I found your blog awhile ago and have meant to read through it all...your posting from Friday, June 10th, could be mine, married, three kids (except oldest girl now 9, then boys now 7 and 5), except substitute June 25th. That was the day I had my CT and they found a 8 cm carcinoid in my right upper lobe. I had a CT-guided needle biopsy the following Wednesday, and my right upper lobe removed on 9/27 via VATS. What a crazy roller coaster it's been, still doesn't seem possible. Do you have residual fatigue? Some days I am so exhausted it's like I can hardly get it's wishing you all the best!!! Kim

Dream Big Designs said...

Hey love!!!! I am so touched you posted this story. It is amazing to read it from your feelings and thoughts. You are so amazing and I look up to you in every way! Hugs and loves to you! And Happy BDAY!!!!

Unknown said...


I just want to thank you SO much for sharing your story. I have the same cancer you had and in fact am having my operation on Sept. 8, next month. I have been FULL of fear about the operation, (even though I know that God has it all under control)so I probably shouldn't have looked at the pictures! Lol...but they actually helped me to understand. I too may lose my entire right lung, not sure...two lobes for sure. I live here in Salt Lake City as well, but have sought treatment at Vanderbilt in Nashville, they have a Neuroendocrine Program and I have metastasis as well. But, I just wanted to say thanks. Your upbeat attitude and your faith got you through. You are an inspiration!


Samantha Fitzgerel
West Jordan, Utah