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Among so many bad news, I'm happy to be able to give you a good one. Seven months ago I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and metastases in the liver and for it not to become a death sentence, I had to start my battle against cancer at the age of 24.
Today, three and a half months after my last surgery, I am CANCER FREE and although I am still recovering, I AM PART OF THE 5% OF PANCREATIC CANCER SURVIVORS.
The battle for life is very difficult. It is a hard physical, emotional and economic struggle. However, the process is full of pleasant surprises and gratifying rewards. As you will guess, this story has a happy ending and I am extremely grateful to be able to tell it. Here it goes.
In the second part of my last battle against cancer I told you that I had to go back to the hospital two days after being "discharged" because for some strange reason, my drain clogged and that had caused me a very dangerous infection. But the Universe, stubborn with its decision to heal me, put in my way the doctors who would make the right decisions to save me.
A DANGEROUS INFECTION
With pain and fever I entered the ER with my mom, while in the waiting room my dad, my boyfriend, my sister, her boyfriend, my cousin Xime, my aunt Diana, my grandpa Alejandro and Nena were waiting nervously.
Doctors took blood samples and took me to get a CT scan. Two stretcher-bearers passed me to the machine table and, although they did it very carefully, I went out of air and it hurt as if I had a broken rib. I closed my eyes and followed the instructions of the voice coming out of the machine.
After the CT scan, I was taken to the room 205 and that's how, on June 26, I re-entered to the ABC and because the results of the blood samples and CT scan didn't go well, I spent the next two weeks in the hospital.
The doctors managed to control my pain and the next day, I was punctured (stung with a large needle) into the gap where the 50% of my right liver had been to remove the intoxicated blood and put an extra drain.
Although it may not seem like it, sometimes I get lucky. To treat the infection I had the help of Paco Moreno (my uncle and doctor) and all his team of excellent doctors. Thanks to them, when I heard the phrases:
"You have an infection, but we are already treating it";
"The antibiotics we gave you since day one are working very well";
or "Your white blood cells continue to go down"
... my head translated: "Whatever, you are not going to die of an infection".
And I must accept (because if I don't someone will tell) that the next four days I DID NOT TAKE A BATH and my family nicknamed me "the stinky girl from the 2nd floor". Nevertheless, I will use in my defense the fact that all of us who are here, at least once, by an infection or a "simple" flu, have not bathed (it is true and the ones who deny it are lying. Haha). In addition, my nurse friends told me that I wasn't the only one on the 2nd floor and that, in fact, we were several patients who didn't want to bathe.
[1 July]: "Do you want me to scare you? Haha. I'm okay now, but Paco just told Pao and me that when I entered I had (I forgot the name of those things... we will call them "X")... that the "X" the maaaximum you can have is 1 (I'm at -0.5 now) and that if you have 2 to 4 you are at risk of death... and imagine with how many I entered on Monday... ¡24! :O Paco was very worried and only told mom Lucy".
That was the text I sent to Alfredo, my boyfriend, when Paco told me how bad the infection had been. Without knowing, it could've killed me.
Because of the severity of the "X" indicator (sorry, I still don't remember its name) and that my white blood cells had been at 32,000 (when normal values range from 3,500 and 11,000/ml), Paco was very worried while he tried to avoid the inquisitive looks and questions of our family with his typical "I'm trying to hide my concern" face. Soon I was out of danger because my body responded well to the antibiotics and it restored his peace of mind.
BUT THERE WERE MORE COMPLICATIONS...
In addition to the infection, a hole opened where my liver had been cut and I HAD A BILE LEAK. This wasn't sooo bad because I had two drains that were taking it out. However, if nothing was done, the leak would take a long time to close.
When the infection was under control, Dr. Ángela Seúl (an excellent endoscopist) did a procedure called Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) with which she found the site of the leak and put a stent in my liver to help close it.
Although ERCP is a minor procedure, it is not exempt of complications and, apparently, I wouldn't be spared from any of the complications.
The procedure that was calculated to last about an hour, was done in three. Because my arteries are half-crooked and very thin, the prostheses that they tried to put wouldn't fit. Nonetheless, Ángela found the right prosthetics in pediatrics and then woke me up.
As soon as I opened my eyes, I felt a lot of pain and began to cry. I had PANCREATITIS (my pancreas swelled) and I had a terrible night. For this reason, the next two days I could not eat or drink anything. How much I regretted having despised the chicken they had brought me the day before! And, how much I was craving for a Hershey's chocolate milk!
Since I was very hungry, I used to try to convince anyone to give me some contraband food. No one gave in. But Chan is a cool doctor... so on the third day, he let me drink a Hershey's.
If I had to choose a "favorite" day of my third stay in the hospital, I would probably say that it was when my three best friends surprised me with a spa day and decorated my hospital room.
I remember that that day I was especially gloomy, I had slept most of the day and was still asleep when Lucy, Mari and Dany came with drawings, quotes, an instant camera and a cord to hang the pictures. In addition, they brought a complete kit to transform my hospital room into a SPA.
They accompanied me to walk, told me gossips and through pedicure, manicure, facial masks, massages and nail polish, they managed to lift my spirit.
Days after my delightful spa day, Paco brought me an incredible gift. When I was in ICU, the daughter of one of his patients found out that one of his nieces was hospitalized and, without knowing who I was, she put together a kit of recipes and foods suitable for patients with pancreatic diseases.
... And I am more and more convinced that LIFE HAS STRANGE WAYS TO PUT ON OUR WAY EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE.
The gift note was signed by Shelly V. Shelly V.? I knew that name from somewhere. Of course I wanted to send her a text to thank her, but when I added her phone number, a very funny thing happened.
Turns out I already had Shelly's number registered. I knew Shelly from the university! We both studied Communication at Anáhuac and, although we only shared a couple of classes the last semester, we became very good classmates.
I wrote to her and we both agreed that it was a strange and amusing coincidence. I would've been touched even if a total stranger had sent me the gift, but being someone I knew the one who sent it without knowing that it'll be the one receiving it, made it much more special... and now we have a pending coffee.
One day before being discharged my left forearm was already swollen, it hurt and fluids were coming out, but since I only had one night left in the hospital, I emphatically refused to have my catheter replaced because I wasn't planning to withstand any more pin pricks. So the last night I had to walk through the empty hallways of the hospital with my arm in a salute position to the flag.
The next morning, the catheter was removed and I felt an instant relief.
WE DIDT IT! WE BEAT FRANTZ!
On July 8, after many pains, frustration, laughter and gossip, I was discharged and THE FINAL SCORE AGAINST FRANTZ TUMOR TURNED OUT LIKE THIS:
*I lost: 66% of my pancreas, the spleen, the gallbladder, 50% of my liver and 6 kilos (pancreas and liver surgeries are a good method to lose weight... although I do not recommend them).
*I needed: 3 large operations,1 ultrasound, 5 CT scans, 1 PET, 3 endoscopies, physical therapy, many X-rays and countless blood samples.
*I have: A huge scar on the abdomen and sometimes I feel its slashes.
*I won: Health, time, a puppy and a spinner (which I stole from Pedro (my brother-in-law)).
FINAL SCORE: Majo - 1 | Cáncer - 0
Photo of the scar two months after the last surgery.
Thank you for making it look pretty, Chan.
Even though I've had a couple more little scares, I'm recovering and starting to feel better, better and better.
I'M FREE OF PANCREATIC CANCER, but the battle continues. I still have to fight the fears that Frantz left me and spend 5 years in "remission" until my ex-cancer keeps his word and never return to be considered TOTALLY CURED.
The wait will be long and sometimes I'll feel anxious (I know it because since now I am worrying about getting my results "clean" in the PET that I'll take later this year or the beginning of the next). However, I will do the best I can because really the only thing I can do is enjoy the life that with so much effort I won.
Once again, THANK YOU ALL. Thank you to my family, boyfriend, friends, medical team and you, who read and send me good vibes, for helping me return to total healing. I could not have done it without you. You are incredible and I hope that life returns you all the love you gave me.
I am determined to be happy, to live in the present and to fulfill my dreams. I'm full of hope and with much pride I can finally say:
GOODBYE FRANTZ. GOODBYE.
Ps. Feel free to share or contact me at any time.
Ps2. Don't forget to follow me on social media as @goodbyefrantz.