Monday, May 18, 2015

Back pain, and bone scans, and lymph nodes, Oh My!

I was really hoping the next post I wrote was going to be about my "new normal" - What life is like now that the initial cancer treatments are over. I thought would talk about how I'm getting back into a new routine - trying to heal, rest, and recover. Unfortunately, this post is instead about all the tests I've been having and physical pain I've been experiencing - yay!

Back Pain

As soon as we got back from Houston I stopped all the nightly helpers and delivered meals. I was ready to jump right back into our "normal" life, and do it all by myself. I feel so guilty needing help for so very long- from the people managing the schedule of all the helpers to all the people that came over so many nights instead of getting to their own to-do lists or getting to relax. Instead, they were bathing and feeding my kids. I wanted everyone to get a break, including my parents.

"Giving everyone else a break" required me to lift and care for my 25 and 35 pound babies with a back that had grown weak while recovering from surgery and living in Houston. This led pretty quickly to some extreme back and hip pain. I was on heavy duty pain meds 24/7 to be able to function. At first I didn't realize (or want to believe) this was the culprit. I went to a chiropractor, yoga, physical therapy, and acupuncture. After two weeks of trying everything, the thing that finally helped was me resting my back for a weekend while friends were in town and could lift the kids for me. (Thank you Caitlin for picking up my kids all weekend!!)

Bone Scan

Since the pain came on so suddenly, was so intense (without pain meds I couldn't even think), and seemed to be worsening, that qualified me for a bone scan to check for metastases in my spine. I was pretty nervous about this one. Every time we have a test it always feels like I'm about to start the beginning of the end.

What I've learned after many (thankfully) negative scans is this: you can't start freaking out about the possibility of cancer spreading until you have definite results. Even then, I have to remember that God is in control, He has a plan, and He is going to walk with me through each step- even if the end of that road is an ugly death from cancer.

Cross Lymph Node

Just as we were letting out a big sigh of relief with the negative bone scan, I felt a large lymph node on my left (non-cancer) side under my armpit. I messaged my local doctor to see if I should a) just ignore it, b) wait until the next time I'm in Houston to bring it up, or c) get an ultrasound in Dallas. I quickly received a message back asking if I could come in that afternoon for a scan.

Every time I ask a doctor about some symptom, I'm always praying in the back of my head, "Please say this is totally normal and clearly explainable by some non-life-threatening alternative reason." Whenever they say, "Let's scan this immediately," it's never as good.

My lymph node was 1.7 cm. That's big for me - the largest I ever had on the right side was 1.2 cm. The radiologist gave a few reasons why it may not be cancer and would recommend just watching it unless I was "one of those people who would be worrying about it and feeling it all the time". It was like he knew me or something.

We did a biopsy right then and I'll find out in a few days if it is cancerous. If it is cancerous I will at that point technically be "incurable". But like I mentioned above, I'm not going to worry about that until I know for sure what the scoop is. And surely it won't be positive since that doesn't fit into my plan of being here four years from now to throw David that killer birthday party.

So here's to attempting to rest and recover while keeping two babies alive, remaining full of peace in the midst of uncertainty, and enjoying every day I'm given! Let's do this!


  1. Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed!Very useful information particularly the last part :) I care for such info a lot. I was seeking this certain information for a long time.
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  2. Great force for these days of uncertainty!

    A hug.

  3. Great force for these days of uncertainty!

    A hug.

  4. Oh Ashleigh, I just love you! You are going through so much and yet remain as positive as you can. I am praying for you daily.

  5. Praying hard for you -- I found you through the Momfessionals blog and think of you often (we are the same age w/ young kids and your story just stuck w/ me so much!) and your attitude is inspiring, so put it mildly! I have no words for your amazing faith, but you are so encouraging to me (and I'm not even going through cancer). Praying for your next results, and thankful for the update! You are a wonderful light for God!!!

  6. Hi,
    Good to see you fighting against breast cancer. May God cure you soon. Early detection can prevent breast cancer damage. But people have lack of awareness. One of my relative also died from breast cancer. I am also fighting against breast cancer. You can find few tips to prevent breast cancer from my blog:

  7. Hey Ashleigh, just wanted to share something that I recently read by Eckhart Tolle in regards to Uncertainty.

    When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life. So often, we are held back by fear of the unknown, assuming discomfort means we’re making a wrong turn. The truth is, nobody knows what they’re doing in this life. Nobody knows how it’s all going to pan out. All we can do is to do what we can, where we are, with what we have. Shying away from uncertainty is not avoiding the tough decisions; it’s choosing comfort and security over growth and possibility. Become comfortable with uncertainty. Accept it as a fact of life, and have faith in what will come.

    Praying for you friend and sending you my love and well wishes!

  8. Despite not being able to write what you thought you would, it’s really nice to hear that you’re continually battling this unfortunate situation of yours. And it’s great that you are turning to a lot of resources such as chiropractor, yoga, physical therapy, and acupuncture, in order to facilitate a faster recovery. Thanks for sharing this with us. All the best!

    Mark Wallace @ Wabi Iron & Chiropractic Memphis

  9. Go easy on yourself. You do not have to carry the babies around all the time, especially now that they have started to grow too big for such. Most importantly, it’s really doing a number on your back. And more than 30 pounds on your shoulders is not exactly the best response to that. You need to get to the bottom of that pain, before doing anything else.

    Mark Wallace @ Chiropractic Memphis

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  13. There are more components to breast cancer than some people realize. The pain is almost constant unless you have some kind of medication all the time. It seems like there is always some kind of test that needs to be done in order to see if the cancer has spread, and there's a fear that it the results won't be good.

    Prince Baughman @ Everybody's Chiropractic

  14. I have been suffering with back pain for many years, kicking and screaming about going to see a chiropractor. I am not sure where my fear originated, but i recently gave in due to excessive pain to see if they could do anything. I should have gone years ago because today I am finally living a near normal life without suffering.

    Earnestine Doescher @ U.S. HealthWorks Modesto I

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