2013: The Year of the Scalpel

I have a feeling that this New Year’s Eve, I’ll look back on 2013 in a way I’ve never seen any other year. The year 2013 kicked off with me being a resident of Beeville after 20+ years of living in San Antonio. In mid-February, just after moving into my home on Fairway Ridge, I embarked upon a 10-week wildlife photo contest that would entail dedication, energy, time and a lot of work. 
In the middle of shooting for the contest, my appendix went haywire and I landed in the Beeville hospital with an appendectomy on April 15. Soon after, I was back in the field, taking pictures.
Shooting for the contest ended June 2; on June 3 I discovered something that told me I needed to get to a gynecologist; the timeline appears below, but after an appendectomy, and then a hysterectomy leading to a cancer diagnosis on July 1, I will now and forevermore refer to 2013 as the Year of the Scalpel!
As I’ve known friends and relatives who have been diagnosed with cancer over the years, I was one of those who felt I never knew what to say or ask. I also never thought I would have cancer.
Now that I am on the inside of this cancer thing, no longer an awkward stranger to it, I feel calm. I don’t want this to be a bigger deal than it is, but I don’t want to underestimate its importance, either. I want to respond appropriately to this condition in terms of the spiritual, emotional, intellectual and medical. In the interest of setting myself up for success, I want to do what I should and need to do to allow treatments to do their job. 
I am pleased with how quickly I’ve gone from my one detectable symptom to an appointment at MD Anderson:
  • June 2 – Noticed first symptom
  • June 5 – Saw gynecologist
  • June 5 – Had an ultrasound
  • June 6 – Gynecologist called to say I had an enlarged left ovary
  • June 10 – MRI and blood tests
  • June 13 – Saw gynecologic oncologist in San Antonio
  • July 1 – Hysterectomy performed, cancer confirmed. Serous cell cancer began in the fallopian tube and spread to the ovary, hence a Stage IIa diagnosis. No other tissue or lymph nodes involved.
  • July 4 – Returned home from hospital
  • July 7 – Contacted MD Anderson for appointment
  • July 9 – Anderson called with preliminary appointment date of July 29, pending confirming insurance and receiving medical reports
  • July 12 – Anderson called again to confirm July 29 appointment. I’m set!
  • July 28 – Travel to Houston with Raymond Butler, staying at the nearby apartment of Randy & Julie Vrana
  • July 30 – Appointment at MD Anderson at 8:30am, accompanied by Julie Vrana
I am not worried. I have done everything I could as quickly as I could, to get the ball rolling on evaluation and treatment.
I am not anxious. My body and my spirit are strong, and I am up for this challenge.
I am grateful. I am surrounded by family and friends who love me, and have already stepped up to help me in ways I can only describe as humbling. 
I began this blog for several reasons. First, I want those who are interested in my progress and present circumstances to have a place to come for information. Secondly, I believe this will provide me with a worthwhile outlet for communicating my thoughts, feelings and anecdotes relative to being a cancer patient and obtaining treatment. Finally, perhaps it will become a resource to others who either have cancer or who care about someone who does. This is one of those pivotal life experiences that is mine to share, not keep to myself. It strikes me as selfish to go through something like this and not put it out there for the benefit of others!  
When I began my photography obsession in the spring of 2011, I had no idea that it might just be how I get through the rigors of chemotherapy. I’ve come to experience my time behind the camera as my zen state, an almost holy space that’s occupied only by me and whatever citizen of nature I’m photographing. It is a pure and peaceful place, and one that feeds my spirit. I embrace it as a gift from the Good Lord, one of many.
So, tomorrow I’ll travel the easy distance to my dear brother John’s Nueces Ranch in La Salle County for a couple of days of photography. I will look for beautiful birds and deer in velvet. If I’m lucky, I might even find a nice snake to photograph…or a bobcat! I will spend time with the ranch managers, Keven and Debbie Currie, who have become like family to me. 
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7 Responses to 2013: The Year of the Scalpel

  1. donshade says:

    July 30 – Celebrate the good news over a delicious quinoa dinner while vowing to never eat red meat again (I know, not gonna be easy for a Texan, but necessary to keep your body alkaline). God bless you Cissy!

  2. Gail Chatham Wesseling says:

    Cissy, I appreciate so much that you want to share this experience with us. I believe your bravery and attitude will be a blessing to all of us; not one of us knows what this journey called life holds in the future (but, assuredly, we will all face something) and you are showing us a way to face adversity with honesty and hope. I’ll be praying for you through this “adventure”, Cissy.

  3. Rick Miller says:

    Cissy, as you are aware I am not a stranger to this journey that you have embarked on. I applaud the use of this blog for several reasons. First, there will likely be days that communication with all that love you will be difficult, and your written words will be temporarily sufficient for us not in Beeville with you. Secondly, sharing this experience with all who can in turn learn from you how a challenge such as this can be met head on with strength , determination to survive and the beauty and grace you have always radiated is so unselfish and giving that I am in awe of you my friend.
    My journey was no where near as open and energetic as you intend. You will be given opinions by professionals that will leave you with doubt and worry, but always remember that God is in charge, and that every previous challenge HE has placed you in, was to prepare you for this. You will also receive opinions that are from those who love and care for you. Some will be at opportune times while others will not be. Either case try to see the love being projected.
    You have my contact data and I expect you to use it. Never mind the day of the week or the time of day or night, call me and I will laugh with you, cry with you or just listen. My awe and great respect to you my friend as well as Gods blessings.


  4. Dina de la Garza Rodriquez says:

    Cissy, thank you so much for sharing this with us. Please know you are a favorite “Beevillian” to all of us, and we will be keeping you in our thoughts and in our prayers. Please keep the updates coming….we care. ❤

  5. Tara Thompson says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience Cissy. I look forward to following along and praying for you. Blessings! Tara (365 project)

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