Life As of Late and a PSA

I feel like I’ve been living a double life – smiling, celebrating, traveling, cooking and appearing to live the dream. After a really hard eight weeks, it is time to rally the prayer warriors and share what has been going on.

I wrote this post on August 9 but didn’t have the courage to publish it then:

On June 30 I went for a baseline colonoscopy. My primary care doctor, who I adore, has been at me for over a year. I had a gazillion excuses of why I let that order sit in my desk for 13 months – primarily that I was only 46 and, up until recently, colon screenings didn’t start until 50. Dr. D knows how to light a fire under me and, when I showed up this year for my annual check and hadn’t done it, she looked me straight in the eye simply said “do this for your boys.” I’ll be thankful for those five words forever.

The colon prep was horrendous and even worse than I imagined. It was coming out of all ends and was absolutely NOT easy. I said all sorts of hateful things about it, about doctors, about medical care and about how barbarically I was being treated. :-) I can be dramatic y’all. I was in a foul mood when Honey dropped me off and said he’d see me afterwards. The last thing I remember was the anesthesiologist saying “well aren’t you just disgustingly healthy” as he checked off my chart and sent me to lala land. If only we had known.

When I woke up Honey was sitting beside me, as white as a sheet. The doctor was standing next to me. There was no question that something was wrong. Dr. S very kindly and sincerely began to tell us what he found. I have a 4cm polyp in my lower colon. He said things like “rare”, “unusual”, “too young” and, most horrifically, “cancer”.

We waited four excruciating days for biopsy results: pre-cancerous. But he cautioned me this is just very tiny sample of a very large thing. He made his best guess at the procedure that would be needed to remove it and referred me to two surgeons for next steps. At this point we were days away from our Italy and Switzerland trip and he said there was no reason not to go – that this is a slow moving ship and nothing was going to happen quickly. And so, we went. And it was so special to me on so many levels. Everything in my life felt uncertain, but I had 9 glorious days with my 3 guys and I treasured every single moment of that.

Back home, we met with Dr. SG first. He was extraordinarily kind and I loved him almost instantly. But, he works out of a hospital I am not completely comfortable with and he recommended a surgery that I wasn’t entirely sure was the right path.

Dr. C was the second surgeon out of Emory Winship Cancer Institute. Dr. S told me he is “the best” and that he is able to do a much less invasive surgery and that he hoped I’d be a good candidate for that. He made multiple calls on my behalf and we never heard back. I understood he is a very busy, sought after surgeon.

And so, Honey and I went off on our own path. We found another well regarded surgeon out of Piedmont – Dr. R. After many, many, many calls, we were able to get an appointment with her. Dr. S sent over records. She did a check in her office but could not feel or see the polyp. So, she scheduled me for yet another colonoscopy. She wanted to see with her own two eyes what was growing inside of me before making a recommendation on next steps. I didn’t love her, to be honest, but I respected how thorough, cautious and methodical she was in her approach. She also took three more samples for biopsy. The latest biopsy results came back last week and all are pre-cancerous. And, once again, I heard “rare”, “so young”, “unusual.” Of all the things I’ve ever wanted to be, medically interesting is not one of them.

From here, Dr. R referred me to another surgeon at Piedmont named Dr. M. I know this is super confusing. Dr. M trained under the elusive Dr. C at Emory and they were recommending the same surgery that my original Dr. S. believed I’d need.

Honey and I spent the week trying to get the next appointment scheduled with Dr. M. We each made at least 10 calls back and forth from Dr. R to Dr. M trying to make sure records were sent, orders were made, etc. etc. etc. We weren’t getting anywhere and I shed a LOT of tears of fear and frustration. We also could not find even one patient review on him, even after feeling like we had searched to the end of the internet.

Thursday night my phone rang at 6:35 PM. I wasn’t going to answer, fearing it was a work call, but something made me click accept. Lo and behold if it wasn’t Dr. C’s office (Emory, “the best”, ‘hard to get”, “extremely busy”)!!!! I was in shock. Honey ran across the room to speak because I just sat there. And, just like that, I will have the surgery on September 7 with Dr. C at Emory.

Between now and September 7, I will be traveling to Paris and Scotland for work. This is such an amazing opportunity and one I was fearful I wouldn’t be able to accept as the weeks marched on and uncertainty grew. I expect you’ll see a lot of smiles and enviable experiences and delicious food, but know that behind the smile is a girl carrying a lot of heavy things but doing her best to live every single day with joy. It is true what they say – you never really know what someone is going through. (Of course, you can’t know if they don’t tell you!)

I want to sincerely apologize to my dearest friends, family and co-workers that are reading my story online. Please know that I still don’t have words to speak about this aloud. And, while I realize this makes no sense at all, I didn’t want to burden or upset you with a story that was unfolding and didn’t have some glimmer of hope at the end. I can count on one hand the people that I have been able to tell. I didn’t even find the courage to tell my parents until about 10 days ago, which also made me feel horribly guilty. We just told the boys this weekend.

I also kept this tremendous secret because I desperately wanted to get my boys started on their new school years and celebrate their first days without this looming over everyone around me. I wanted to do Raider Ball and Senior Breakfast and scrimmages and open houses without my friends and acquaintances feeling sorry for me or like they couldn’t chat with me about the mundane things in our lives. I just wanted happiness. In fact, I told a few of the doctors along the way that I could be available for anything on any day EXCEPT for the first day of school. (Honey said – oh, she can be available that day if you need her. LOL) It was really important to me and I thank God that I was able to be fully present, get the boys settled into their new routines, and celebrate all the fun things the past couple of weeks.

And, here we are on September 12:

I am five days post surgery and in wonderful spirits. I feel such a tremendous sense of relief to have that behind me. Sister spent the surgery day at my house making sure the boys were cared for, Honey spent the day in the hospital with me. My few friends that I was able to tell have rallied around us. I’m only mildly sore but extremely tired. Yesterday was my first day alone in a quiet house and I waffled between napping and working. Life feels good and happy.

I would be grateful to have you pray for clear final biopsy results over the coming days. There are, of course, scenarios other than the best one but I have not let my mind wander there. Think of the happiest thoughts!

I also urge you to go get that colon screening. Do it for all the people that love you, if not for yourself.

September 27: The GOOD news!

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59 thoughts on “Life As of Late and a PSA

  1. God has blessed you, Amanda. He has healed you. Let Him take away your fears. You have done the right thing and will always keep a check on it from now on. I am a stage four colon CHAMPION. I had an emergency colon resection in 2007 and underwent 8 months of chemo. The prep is hell but it’s two hours to save your life. I have a lot of tips I can share with you. ❤️ May God watch over you. ❤️ The worst is over. 😇 I encourage everyone to get screened. Get those polyps outta there and go live your lives. You don’t have to wait until you’re 50! Love to all, Jane 🌴

    1. Oh Amanda! My heart is so heavy for you right now. Sending so many pink and green good vibes and prayers your way complete with lots of sunshine hugs. Xo

  2. PS…If someone in your family had it (I don’t say the word), you need to be tested TEN YEARS before the age that they were diagnosed. My father had it at 50 and lived into his eighties. Not one single doctor told me to be tested at 40, even though they knew my family history. Make some jello, broth and lemonade. Drink the awful stuff and go to bed early. In the morning, you’ll be sedated and it’ll be over by noon. ❤️ I send my love to every person who has or is dealing with this. My prayers are with you. ❤️ Jane 🌴

  3. I have read your blog for many, many years and have stolen so many ideas from you to make childhood magical for my own kids. I just stopped and said a prayer for you. I hope for the best case scenario outcome.

    1. I am so thankful it was caught early and you were encouraged to do it for the boys. Prayers for a speedy recovery and a clear biopsy.

  4. I’ve read your blog for years and have enjoyed the way you create magic for your family and the way you share your love for your family and your gratitude for life! I will be keeping you in my prayers!

  5. Blessings to you for peace and healing. For future preps, I recommend requesting permission to try Sutab, with a Zofran 30 minutes prior to each dose, to see if that is tolerated more easily by your system. Swallowing pills was so much easier for me than drinking the foul-tasting prep and the Zofran kept me from feeling nauseous and throwing up.

  6. Praying for you! I live in the neighborhood and play tennis with one of your neighbors and she tells me how funny you are! I love your blog and have copied many of your ideas and even installed string lights in our backyard because of you.

    Take care and can’t wait to hear your positive results!

  7. My SIL was diagnosed with colon cancer at 42 and died at 47 leaving two young children. THAT COLONOSCOPY SAVED YOUR LIFE!! I’ve enjoyed your blog for years. I am so happy you listened to your physicians and went through with it. I wish you nothing but the best Amanda. Now I will finally go for mine, which I’ve been putting off.

  8. I have read your blog every day for many years and was shocked to see your post today. I am keeping you and your family in my prayers. Also, thank you for sharing this very personal story and for your honesty about things not always looking like they seem. I am glad you were able to take those amazing and beautiful trips and make all the memories. I am praying and very hopeful you will have many more amazing trips in your lifetime!

  9. Prayers for continued good results! What a blessing that your PCP really pressed for the screening to be done. Thank you for your courage in sharing your story.

  10. Dearest Amanda, I have followed your blog for many years. You and my daughter are the same age and I am constantly after her to have her physicals, etc. if for no other reason than her 3 precious children. I will be sharing your story with her as she had an aunt with the same issue you are dealing with. I will keep you in my prayers. Sending you thoughts of peace and comfort you travel down this uncertain road.

  11. Love you Amanda and I have never met you but you feel like a sister to me. I respect you for handling this privately and in the way that felt best for you and your family, such a sign of great strength. Rest up and take care of you! xoxo

  12. It will be sixteen years next month when I suffered a late-night gallbladder attack. After rushing to the hospital, they found not only an inflamed gallbladder but a kidney tumor. Yes, I have another kidney, but the concern was had it spread to other organs. Like you, I had to wait almost a month for my surgery. Coordinating two surgeons’ schedules seems to be a challenge. And, like you, I searched and found a doctor I was comfortable with, not only his credentials but his bedside manner. It was a scary time, more for my husband than me. He was a mess. But here I am sixteen years later, healthy. Unlike you, I did tell people. I wish I would have kept it to our immediate family, because I felt so self-conscious. I do appreciate life more and am thankful for every day I have been given.

    Amanda, I pray you have positive results and that you and your family find peace.

  13. Amanda, I’ve followed you for years and, even though old enough to be your mother, have learned so much from you. Today was the biggest lesson – you never know what someone else is going thru especially behind the pretty pictures. So glad you finally listened to your primary and scheduled your colonoscopy (agree the prep is horrific). Now is time for only positive thoughts and moving forward.

  14. Praying for you! We are the exact same age with the same age boys :) I went for mine last Wednesday as I have an extensive family history as well. Think of it as 24 hours of misery to save our lives. I’m so glad you went!

  15. Amanda, I am so sorry to hear all that you have been through. We have never met yet you are a regular blessing to me. I am grateful for you! I can only imagine how much the people in your life treasure you. I just prayed for you- that the results of the biopsies will be positive and that your surgery will be the end of this horrible experience. Thank God you had the colonoscopy and now you will be watched closely.

    I know this is very much a secondary concern right now but please make sure you tell your gastroenterologist how bad the prep went. I have had a lot of colonoscopies and have been prescribed many ways to prep. While none are easy, some (e.g., more pills and less liquid to drink) are definitely more well-tolerated than others. Hopefully, your doctor can work with you to find something that isn’t as miserable.

    I will continue to pray for you. I hope the rest of your recovery goes smoothly and that all of this will be behind you soon.

  16. Amanda,
    Thank you for your bravery in sharing this today. I have followed you for years and have loved getting to see your beautiful way of living life.
    I pray a rosary every day, and I will include your health in my intentions.

  17. Sending prayers for you and your family. As an admittedly over-reactor and a big chicken, I was shocked to learn that although the prep was horrible, the actual colonoscopy was a breeze. To all of the other chickens out there….just get it done…you have lots of people that would be devastated by your loss

  18. Thinking of you and your family! It is also a tale of being your best advocate and getting second opinions. Wishing you the best!!

  19. Thank you for being brave and open with your story. Frankly I have imaging orders sitting in my desk for my mammogram since my last appointment 3 months ago and I will not get that scheduled this week thanks to your push. I’m so glad you are feeling well post surgery & will join the many who adore you in praying for good news moving forward. You’ve always shared living each day and experience to the fullest and I remember it all clicking when you first shared about the loss of an infant. The way you celebrate even the small things is with gratitude that the small things exist and it’s changed my heart all these years.

  20. You are a blessing to so many and I have no doubt that this post will save at least one life. Praying for you complete healing and recovery and many more years of good health!

  21. And here I am crying over someone I have never met in person but feel like I have known my whole life. I have been following your journey for years and you are such an inspiration. I will be praying for you today and until you get the news and I don’t say that lightly.

  22. Prayers for your healing! Emory Winship is the best! They have the best doctors, procedures, and ongoing care possible. You are in the best hands!

  23. Amanda- you’ve been on my mind all afternoon after reading your post. I’m praying for you and sending a warm hug. As I look around my house I chuckle at so many things I have copied from you over the years! Seriously, I’ll have to send pictures sometime. Your blog has brought me so much joy over the years. The absolute best. Love you, Kristen

  24. Amanda, so appreciate your sharing in your own timing. You always bring such joy to your family and others! I am praying for your complete healing and the pathology final results to be good and a very long time before you have another colonoscopy!!🙏🏼💕

  25. Oh sweetie, your story is my story!!!! I only went to get my first colonoscopy because we
    had visited friends and the wife had a similar circumstance. I had a large, precancerous
    polyp at the beginning of my ascending colon. Had my surgery (1st surgery ever!) and post-op results were all clear. Keeping you in my thoughts and praying that you also get the “all clear”. It’s quite shocking news, but I feel God is with you and will cradle you and yours in His loving arms.

  26. Amanda,
    I am lifting you up in prayer that your will be completely healed, and your results will show a clear biopsy. I am so thankful you went for that colonoscopy. I have read where so many younger, healthier people are getting diagnosed with colon cancer and I believe they have lowered the age for the first screening now to 45 instead of 50 because of this. I tell everyone, the prep is much worse than the actual procedure. When I had my colonoscopy, I had no polys, which means I don’t have to have another one until 5 years later. However, because my husband had some polys, he has to go every 3 years. I hope your post will encourage someone who has been putting this off to go do it!

  27. I will definitely pray for you, Amanda! It sounds like you are working with the best doctors and I know you have the best support systems between friends and family. Plus, your overall positive attitude will help tremendously! Due to my IBS, I’ve actually had 3 colonoscopies in my life so I understand that awful prep. I’m glad that part is over for you. Thinking and praying for you in the days ahead! Take care friend!

  28. Oh Amanda, I have followed your amazing trips this summer and was pea green with envy!! I’m so glad you got to take them. As you may remember I had a breast cancer diagnosis right before we took our grand daughters to Disney on the wonderful trip you planned. My diagnosis was from a routine mammogram. (I had had one a year before as normal.) I know what it’s like to have that bouncing around your head while you are trying to have a good time. I came home, had two surgery’s then radiation and all is good now. Praying for you to have good answers, easy steps to take and to continue to live life, just as you did this summer. Telling family is the hardest part but allowing them and friends to carry you in prayer will lift and carry you through anything. I kept thinking that everyone else is doing the worrying for me so I don’t have to! May the same be for you.

  29. Prayers up for you Amanda as you wait for what will surely be good news! Thank you for being brave and vulnerable in sharing your story. I’m turning 50 soon and will not wait any longer for this screening, nor the others I’ve put off for too long. I’m sure your story is inspiring many others who feel like you’re our friend too, even though we only know you from what you share online. Hang in there while you’re waiting for good news, hope you find some comfort knowing how well you’re thought of by all of us!

  30. Prayers coming your way Amanda. Trust in the Lord continually and you will get through this crisis of faith. My son is recovering from colon surgery ( thank God he went to the doctor). The biopsy did show cancer cells and was determined to be stage 2 but no cancer cells in any of his lymph nodes (great news). He is now undergoing chemotherapy 2x/week for the next 6 months. He receives chemo through a port. He has some side effects but nothing serious. He goes to an excellent oncologist and the cancer clinic is staffed with a lot of very caring nurses. We are thankful for God’s healing hand and thankful for His plan for Brian’s life. Amanda, you will make it and will bless others with your experience.

  31. Sweet lady,
    As I read this, there is hope in our God. I am a 3 times survivor of colon cancer. I was 49 when the tumor was found (the size of a softball), It had been a slow growing tumor for several years. Through it all, God has carried me and put people in my life to love on me and be Jesus in the flesh. God is good and I’m so thankful for MD Anderson, Houston, where I was treated and had two of my 3 surgeries. I will be praying for results to be cancer free. If not, God is still good. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and the rivers will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, and the flame will not burn you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 43:2 “

  32. I am covering you, Honey, John and Whit….your parents, your sister, CeeCee and her brother and your brother in law…all in deep prayer….Praying for your surgical team, the medical team that are reading your tests and praying that you feel the love of God who will provide peace and comfort for you.

  33. Thank you for sharing this journey with all of us that love you. Trusting that this difficult chapter in your life is behind you with complete healing and good reports. You have encouraged us in so many ways by sharing. I love your blog and your joy in your family, your friends, cooking, celebrations, home making and travel! Rest and rejoice in your fabulous travels this summer and the healing taking place in your body. Love and blessings to you.

  34. I am so sorry you have been going through this! I have been following you for over a decade, and found you when I started my Elf journey. I have always admired you as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and aunt! Your spirit of all things is unmatched! You are the Goldilocks, not too much, not too little, but always the perfect amount. Here you are dealing with something so serious, yet you are handling it selflessly and with such grace, even when it is not easy. You truly are one of a kind. I am thinking of you and your family, and hoping for the best outcome. Thank you for sharing your story, and as a reminder to take care of ourself too. Even if we, “do it for our boys/family.”

  35. My grandmother died from colon cancer and my parents both have had polyps in their colonoscopies so my OB-GYN recommended I have my first colonoscopy at 40, I drug my feet for a couple of years but I had my second one (I’m on the five year plan) last month and I’m glad to have it behind me but, yes, do the test! Amanda, praying for your speedy recovery from the surgery and for clear biopsy results.

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