Kayla has been in remission for three years now. Most days our family can go through our daily lives on a normal basis. We get caught up in work, hobbies, the minor stresses of life, and right now, wedding planning.
But cancer never goes away. It haunts Kayla and our family in memories and experiences that we can’t forget, no matter how much we try. I can be in the midst of something mundane when I’ll suddenly be hit with a flashback of Kayla in the hospital, of Kayla during chemotherapy, of the fear and worry that I felt at that time. I can’t seem to fully escape or forget. It’s like cancer wants to remind me that it was there.
Cancer especially haunts us at follow-up appointments. A year into remission, Kayla had a spot on her CT; it was probably nothing, and it turned out to be nothing, but Kayla underwent surgery to have it removed and biopsied. We wanted to be damn sure that it was nothing.
Two years later, something else has showed up. Kayla’s left ovary, her one remaining ovary, is enlarged. The oncologist doesn’t know why. Her tumor markers are completely normal and the ovary doesn’t have an ominous appearance – it’s just bigger for some reason. This was in November. On Thursday, Kayla went back for a repeat ultrasound and her ovary has enlarged even more. Again, her tumor markers are completely normal and her ovary looks fine, other than the fact that it’s bigger. The oncologist says he sees this in women frequently, that there are lots of benign things that could be causing this. He recommends continued observance.
BUT. He also gets how scary this is for Kayla right now. So the other option is to go in and remove the extra growth. However, this comes with the risk of Kayla losing her one and only ovary. Which means not being able to bear children some day.
The third option, the option that Kayla has chosen, is to see an infertility endocrinologist and see what it would involve to have her eggs frozen. If it’s a doable option, she could have her eggs frozen, have the surgery, find out what the hell is going on inside her, but if she loses her ovary, she still have her eggs for later when she wants to have kids.
Option 3 is very expensive, from what we know so far. But Kayla wants to at least explore this option before she decides what she wants to do. So right now, we are waiting to hear about an appointment with the infertility clinic.
“God has a plan.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
“Try and stay positive. It will be okay.”
These are the words that we have all heard over the last several days as we start to tell people what is going on. I get it; people want to say those magic words that they hope will ease your fears and will make you feel better. They mean well. But honestly? God can fuck off with his plan. It’s also pretty fucked up that Kayla has to go through all of this because there is a divine reason.
Staying positive is just a bit damn difficult. Right now, I’m pissed as hell.
Kayla is 23 years old, but she has been through hell and back (with a smile on her face). That folks, is the epitome of “staying positive.” She is facing a decision that could possibly be life or death. She is making a decision that will greatly affect her ability to have her own family someday. During one of the happiest times of her life, planning a wedding, she now has this overshadowing everything.
It’s so unfair that I just want to scream through the rooftops. FUCK YOU CANCER. WHY MUST YOU CONTINUE TO HAUNT US? WHY CAN’T YOU FUCK OFF AND DIE?? LEAVE KAYLA ALONE!!
“We’re here for you.”
“Whatever you need, just ask.”
“I’m so sorry that your family has to go through this.”
These are also words that we have heard over the last several days. They bring comfort and the assurance that no matter what happens, no matter what Kayla decides, people will have our backs.
Three years ago when we heard the most wonderful words in the world, “Kayla, you are cancer free”, we had hoped that it would be the end of the nightmare. But deep down inside, we all knew that the nightmare would remain in one form or another. The worry, fear, and anxiety continue to haunt us. We don’t know what lasting effects the chemotherapy treatments will have on Kayla.
So we do what has worked so far – we fight together with an army of family, friends, and community with the hope that we finally exorcise this cancer ghost once and for all.