Tuesday, November 07, 2006

2 Years ago......November 8th 2004

It was 2 years ago to the day that we found out our little girl had cancer. Here is a little background as to how we came to this day.........

Around mid October our daycare provider mentioned to us that she felt a lump in Isabella's lower abdomen while she was changing her diaper. She had told us that she laid down all of her other kids to see if she felt the same thing, but she didn't. We called her doctor's office to make an appointment, now we had just moved to Phoenix in mid-July so she had never even been to this office yet. The appointment was for like a week later. The RN checks her out and is not sure as to what to tell us so she brings in the doc to feel Isabella's lump. She immediately says that she needs to be scheduled for an ultrasound. We make that appointment and it is done within the next couple of days. We go in for her ultrasound and the tech looks around and again is not sure so he brings in the doc. She looks at the pictures and tells us we need a CT scan. At this point we know it's not something good. We are both in extreme denial and don't want to think what we knew it was. So then Isabella gets scheduled for her CT scan and it is scheduled for a Friday afternoon. She had to be put under anesthesia and we were then introduced to the wonderful ladies at the Pediatric Outpatient Treatment Center (POTC as we call it) at Banner Desert Hospital. The scan was completed and we were told that we wouldn't hear anything until Monday since it was a Friday afternoon.

Waiting through that whole weekend killed us. In our gut, we knew what it was, but we weren't ready to admit it yet. I cried and cried all weekend long. I constantly asked God why he would do such a thing to us. At this point in time we didn't know what it was but we still felt like we were going to loose her. David was my rock, as corny as it sounds. I still remember sitting on the couch one night and crying into his chest. He just sat there and held me and told me not to worry when I know he wanted to cry too.

That Monday, I can still remember it pretty well. It was mid-morning when my phone rang and it was Isabella's pediatrician. Now since we had just moved to Phoenix, and Isabella saw her actual pediatrician for like a minute's time frame, I knew it couldn't be good to have the doctor calling me. She told me that it was a tumor and for me to tell my work that I wasn't going to be there the rest of the week. She said we would have a lot of decisions to be making in the next couple of days and shouldn't be worrying about work. She told me to head home right away and pick up Isabella and head to the hospital because she was being admitted and she was scheduled for surgery tomorrow.

When I hung up the phone I immediately started to cry. My "cubie" rubbed me on the back and told me she was sorry. I know there is not much people can say when someone finds out their 18 month old daughter has cancer. I appreciated every ounce of support I received from her and everyone I worked with. I called David to tell him the news, but if I remember correctly the doctor had already called him. He was on his way home. He worked about a block from our apartment at the time, so he just walked since we only have one car. It just so happened that his sister, Carla came to visit for a week and she was at our apartment with Isabella. Before that day, Monday, November 8th 2004, we hadn't mentioned to anyone in our families about what was going on. Carla didn't know about the ultrasound, the CT scan, nothing. She had just decided to stay with us for a week to spend time with us. Little did she know that the week she was there would be the week we needed her the most. We didn't tell anyone, because we didn't want them to worry if it turned out to be nothing.

When David got home he had to break the news to Carla. I still remember getting home and seeing that her eyes were red from crying. Heck, so were mine from the drive home. There is a picture of Isabella lying on the floor that David took prior to me getting there and the look on her face says everything. She looked so sad in that picture, it was like somehow she knew what was going on. That picture might be on David's computer, so I'll see if I can post it here if I can find it. We got some things together and headed to the hospital.

We got to the hospital and got her checked in. A short while later we were showed to our room, which was our home away from home for the next week. That day we met a whole slew of doctors, some of whom we have come to know and love very well. One of the first was Dr. Abella. At first he seemed very straight to the point and I remember not really understanding a word he was saying. This turned me off about him at first. But now I know that he is just a really really smart man who talks in doctor terms so David and I had to learn how to break him down to our level of understanding. =) We met another doctor, MR. Dr. Janik. He would be our little Isabella's surgeon. He was a little bit more personable, but still a VERY VERY smart man. Dr. Janik told us that they would be doing a biopsy of her tumor to see if it was malignant or benign. They would also be doing a bone aspiration to test the bone marrow for the cancer cells. They also told us about a port called a broviac that would be placed in her chest so that she wouldn't have to poked all the time. At this point I was at the breaking point of information from people I didn't know and sure as heck didn't understand. =) After all of the information sunk in a little we started making phone calls. These were the hardest calls we've ever had to make.

David called his mom to tell her the news. To put it lightly, she is a very emotional person. I know she was in tears the moment David told her. As soon as she found out she waited for her son, David's brother, Eric to get home. He was going to school at the time in Palm Desert and he had plans to go somewhere with his friends that week. But as soon as he found out, he, David's mom and their step-dad all hopped in the car and drove the 4 hours to Phoenix. I then called my mom who was shocked by the news and couldn't believe what she was hearing. She reassured me that everything would be okay. I also called my step-mother and my step-sister who were also in tears and didn't want to believe that this was happening. My father had just passed away in July and now we felt like we were going to loose Isabella. There were a ton of emotions going through me at this point in time. My step-mother hopped on the first flight out of Reno and headed down to Phoenix. At the time she worked the night shift, so she got off from work around 1 or 2 AM and then got on a flight a couple of hours later and flew down to Phoenix, not sleeping for more than 24 hours. I can't express how much we appreciate what she did for us.

Well, that was day one! I'll go into day two on my next post. =)

Isabella had an appointment today. They are re-testing her urine to see if it's in normal range, since last time it was a tad high. But things you eat can make the levels high, so it's good that they re-test to be sure. The doctor said everything else looks good. He might decide to do a doppler test on her right foot just to make sure she gets good blood flow. Her right foot is noticably cooler than her left since the surgery to remove her tumor. I will get into that at a later time. =)

Hope everyone enjoyed my trip down memory lane. I will write about day 2 tomorrow.


T-girl said...

Oh i am not sure I can read you! LOL I cried buckets- my husband came in and looked at me like I was crazy and walked out. I can not imagine, I can say I can but whatever I think I would feel is nothing compared to what your family has gone through. Joci is 18 months now and she is running around here as I am reading this (like the devil is on her tail btw) and I can just imagine what you as a mother felt. Here is your "normal" child and all of a sudden someone tells you she is not "normal" in fact she is very, very sick. I am just SO, so sorry that any parent would go through this, it hurts my heart to think of.

T-girl said...

BTW- I am over joyed to hear she is doing so well!!!! Yay!!!! Now if you can just get through the teen years all will be well!!! LOL

Michelle Ugarte said...

Please don't cry! =) I don't post these stories to make people sad, but to know that there are kids out there who survive childhood cancers. I appreciate your comments and thank you again for your kind thoughts and words. My husband thinks I'm crazy because I'll go to other kids sites who aren't doing so well and cry my eyes out. He always asks me why I like to depress myself. I just tell him that I go there to post my comments and show my support and always remember that for as bad as we thought it was at the time, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. And we are thankful for that every day. We are very lucky because we didn't go through nearly as much as other families do. I almost feel like we got off easy, but I refuse to think that it will come back. =)

T-girl said...

I hear you! I do! It just breaks my heart to think of little ones struggling and a parent going through this. I worked oncology for a few years (I am- or was before I stayed at home- a Registrared Dietician)! Kids are SO resiliant. I also am a firm beliver in the power of the mind. I believe that if you THINK the worst you will get it but if you are strong for your kids they will fight and win. Does that make sense? I am not sure if it does. I have seen many a patient just give up and other ones who were worse off survive. I honestly believe that part of it is mind set. Does this make the other stuff (genetics treatment ect) less important of course not. I once worked with a little boy who developed Diabetes. His mother was so distraught and freaked out (beyond the normal Mommy worry) that is caused the kid to be distraught. It took us weeks to get her to a state of normallacy and it was amazing his perspective turned around over night! Our kids feed off our emotions and such- so while there is nothing wrong with being down about it you can NOT allow yourself to feed the negative reactions. I think it is wonderful that you are supporting other parents, it gives them hope and a sense of control in someways so they can be strong for their kiddos. Yes you were lucky but also the numbers are on your side (kids are more likly to recover then adults)and getting out there and making sure other Parents SEE them makes a big difference to them! Keep on doing what you are doing (as long as it brings you peace, don't do it out of a sense of guilt, you have nothing to feel such about)... oh and I cry at commercials! LMAO I am a big 'ol softy, it is my secret, don't tell! LOL

Anonymous said...

aw i remember when she had that surgery and we all sat sweatin waiting for word on whether she was gonna be okay and we all cried for joy when you told us that she was in the clear.

shes always in my prayers girlie. :)