By Tana Gotcher
I do have a lot of ups and downs. So I CHERISH my up days and get everything done that I can.
As I reflect on my journey with carcinoid I begin with 1984 when I started having a lot of stomach problems, which led to exploratory surgery and the removal of my gallbladder. For a year or so things did get better. Jumping ahead to 1999 I began having symptoms which I now realize signaled my later diagnosis of carcinoid - flushing, sweating, diarrhea, and nausea with bad pains in my right upper abdomen. Like so many other carcinoid patients, I saw all kinds of doctors before my diagnosis, with one even telling me maybe I needed a psychiatrist. It wasn't until 2001, when my cardiologist ordered a 24-hour urine test that came back high, that I first heard the word carcinoid.
In 2005, the doctors in Texas did a type of exploratory surgery making two incisions in my abdomen, one above the liver and one in the appendix area, and were supposed to get samples and clean out any tumors they could remove. After a 5-hour surgery and hours in recovery, I woke up to find out the surgeon had closed both incisions without doing one thing. He took no samples for biopsies and basically the surgery was a waste of time. He said it was such a big mess he didn't know what to do and since they were having trouble with my blood pressure bottoming out, he closed. This took a very big toll on me both physically and mentally. At this point I thought I had reached the end.
Now to the year 2007 and I thank God I am still here to see all the events. My granddaughter turned 8 and my grandson 5. Me, I turned the ripe age of 50 and you know I am proud of the age. Truthfully, I did not think I would be here to celebrate my 50th. I have not been able to travel to one of the carcinoid specialists but I have talked to a couple of really nice doctors that have helped me -- one in New Orleans and one at Mayo in Minnesota. They graciously helped me with advice and even looked over test results. My very good friends Ron and Myrna have helped my husband, Charles, and me with support and news of carcinoid. I have other friends through the carcinoid support group in Texas and the online support group ACOR that have helped me along the way, and I thank God for them all.
I found a new oncologist who put me on monthly injections and that made me feel a lot better. The doctor follows me regularly and recently told me I could now travel to Mayo or wherever I choose to go to see a specialist.
2018 marks 17 years since my carcinoid diagnosis and 18 years since my open-heart surgery. I thank God for every year, actually every single day I have. Another day to love my husband and another day to see my son, Ryan, grow into a man and a father. Another day to be with my grandkids.
I do have a lot of ups and downs. So I CHERISH my up days and get everything done that I can. I save my strength to go to a show with my grandkids or have them spend the day with me. This is so much better than where I was earlier that I do THANK GOD for every single day I have. Each day gets me closer to maybe a new treatment or maybe even the strength to one day go have that surgery. So some of my story may sound bleak but it is not, I am blessed and I know God carries me when I am weak and rejoices when I am strong.