A Couple of Milestones

What a year. What a month already. I’ve crossed some significant milestones in the past two weeks.

Nov. 30 was the one-year anniversary of my big surgery at MD Anderson to remove my second tumor after successfully shrinking it with IV chemo over six months. I remember laying on the gurney in pre-op, all hooked up to the IV, anticipating the wave of drugs to put me out. Unexpectedly, a chaplain showed up and asked if he could say a prayer for me. It hit me again how difficult this surgery was going to be. When a complete stranger offers to pray for you, it is no small matter. The 7-hr surgery to remove a DEAD but very stuck tumor went well and I escaped the need for the HIPEC portion of the surgery. Whew.

On the same day as my one-year anniversary of the surgery, I got a call from the the nurse at the mammogram office letting me know that I had a suspicious spot in my left breast that needed further imaging right away. First thought: my appendiceal adenocarcinoma has metastasized. It was very surreal. Follow-up tests were scheduled for the next day but it was a tense 24-hrs of waiting. After holding myself together overnight, the tests showed nothing. False-positive. Geez. It took a day for the good news to sink in as I was terrified that the cancer had returned. But not so.

One year ago on Dec. 11, I was released from the hospital after surgery just in time for my birthday. I was so humbled to have another chance at life. I am extremely grateful for a cancer-free year, for being able to enjoy my family and having life get back to “normal,” for being able to exercise and just feel good. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about cancer in some context. But that’s OK. It gives me an appreciation of how good things are again and how precious each day is.

As I enter the holiday season with all its distractions and noise, the past two weeks have reminded me again to keep my focus on the things that really matter – my family and friends. Everything else is just fluff!

8 thoughts on “A Couple of Milestones

  1. I have followed your ‘journey’ and now Maria’s. You are an inspiration to every one. I have had you and still have you and your mother in my daily prayers. God bless you dear one,

  2. My world is a much happier place knowing that you’re a part of it. You’re a dear friend and an amazing person Ivanna. Hope you had a great birthday yesterday.

    Much love,


  3. Ivanna, you have been amazing and have made me realize what a precious life and good health is. Have a wonderful birthday, Christmas and new year and know that you have made a difference in all of our lives!!!

  4. Wonderful perspective. What a gift you now have in keeping your eye on the ball…..I.e. Enjoying the things that really matter. That is such a struggle for me (and many others, I think) but you inspire me to do better. Thank you, Page

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