May 22, 2017. It started out to be just a normal day, my birthday was the day before and it was amazing, Lee and I went out and shot a turkey and celebrated my day with our kids and my mom. My six week check-up was that day and I was excited to go as I was ready to start working out again.
I was sitting in the room with my mom, Linda and newborn, Raygen. I remember Dr. Diane Adam coming in with a smile on her face and she said, “Hmmmmm, is there a chance you could be pregnant?” My mom smiled too, but I emphatically said “NO, not a chance, I’m the type of person who actually listens to my doctor’s post pregnancy instructions! I had delivered Raygen naturally so that was easy for me to follow. She said, “Okay, I will test again.” We got the same result. She sent me to the lab to get a blood draw and I remember being annoyed as I now would have to come back, and we live an hour away.
Dr. Adam called the next day and said my blood test came back that I was almost 8 weeks pregnant and since I just had Raygen she was immediately concerned and scheduled me an ultrasound. They obviously saw no baby but saw debris in my uterus. That’s when the nightmare and miracles really started to happen.
Dr. Adam had a friend at The University of Iowa and called him (Dr. Goodheart) who is a gynecology oncologist specialist and he said “get her in here!” so in Iwent on Monday for a routine checkup and that Wednesday I was being seen by a cancer doctor. I had an ultrasound, CAT scan and labs done and meetings with Dr Goodheart. At this point, I couldn’t stop crying, thinking: “We had just had a baby and this should be the happiest time in our lives! And of course, we have a two year son, Cameron. I have to be here to raise our babies!” And I kept thinking “God couldn’t have given us these beautiful miracles just to take their mama away!”
At this point we still didn’t know what I had but it falls under GTD and we knew I had a mass in my uterus. For Lee it was very simple, my uterus needed to come out. For me, it crushed me yet again as I still was on the fence about having another baby but ultimately, we decided that the hysterectomy was better than the D&C as it was close to my uterine wall and it was more important to be here now and not think about a baby that may or may not happen. Dr. Goodheart agreed and by that Friday I was having a hysterectomy. Dr. Goodheart left my ovaries in as they looked good and would have put me in early menopause. If we decided we wanted another baby, we could use a surrogate. I was excited to hear that as I now had a choice and some control. It’s the little things that matter!
I was still nursing Raygen and knew I could do so until I started chemotherapy, so that was another thing out of my control that I had no choice in. I wasn’t ready to quit, but obviously you can’t nurse while having medication and chemotherapy, so that was done too.
At this point I was a mess, crying non-stop, as I was terrified… even though Dr.Goodheart told me whatever form of cancer I had would be highly curable and that I would respond well to chemotherapy. The thought of chemotherapy terrified me as I don’t even drink alcohol or take Advil, so I certainly don’t want chemo!
It was at this point that my entire mindset changed. It started with God coming to me and telling me everything would be okay. I felt him and saw him clear as day, it was amazing! I’ve only ever experienced that one other time and that was when my mom had breast cancer; he did the same thing, came to me in my darkest hour and said she will be fine. And she is still here 25 years later. God doesn’t lie and when he came to me I knew I had to do my part in this and that was to fight my butt off! Let the battle begin.
This is also the same day that Lee had said, “Tiff, are you a caribou or are you an elk? You can hit a caribou in the leg and he will lay down to die with no will to live (from caribou hunting we have learned that). You can hit an elk perfectly behind the shoulder and double lung him and he can run miles, they are a strong animal with an amazing will to live. So, which are you? A caribou or an elk?: I said, “I’m an Elk.” “Yes. I’m an elk.” And that’s where my entire disposition changed.
We had the hysterectomy and it went great, the tumor was removed and sent to pathology, and we also came up with a plan for chemotherapy.
My pathology test came back that I had choriocarcinoma, a very rare but highly treatable form of GTD cancer. I started chemotherapy one week after I had my hysterectomy…. because I’m an elk and I felt great!
I’m now on my second session of chemotherapy and thankfully, my numbers have plummeted. They are based on my HCG which is so cruel as that’s what they test for pregnancy.
I started at 88,000
Then went to 4,098
Down to 758
Now at 17
Once it hits 0 then I have two precautionary sessions and I am done!
I am an elk.