There was incessant beeping in the room when I finally opened my eyes. I can’t remember what time it was but the clock on the wall and the setup in the room materialized into the ICU. That, according to the doctor, meant the surgery was complicated. I tried to move but I was connected on every side with IVs and shoved in my throat was an uncomfortable breathing tube. Amid the nurses were my mom and husband sitting next to me as they told them I finally woke up, apparently early. I spent the next two hours focusing on breathing on my own so they could remove the tube, staring at the clock and failing to motion to my husband to play music on his phone to make the time go by faster. I couldn’t think of anything other than getting the tube out so I could ask what happened.
Four days earlier, I sat in bed waiting for our son to move in my tummy after eating two scoops of ube ice cream, his favorite. Beads of sweat began to form on my forehead when he barely moved the 10 movements per hour. My mom was staying with us because she was going to pick up my dad from the airport from Colorado and was also checking on me since I was diagnosed with a blood clot in my leg the week prior and it was still hard for me to get around.I asked her if it was normal and wound up texting my OB who told us to go ahead and get it checked at the labor and delivery department at the hospital closest to us, just to be safe. It was 7PM on a Saturday night and my husband made jokes that Shiloh could be born that night – to which I rolled my eyes and told him not to joke. I slipped on my blue maternity hoodie and the three of us headed to the hospital.
After getting checked in, we waited. The nurses came in to take blood and finally came in with the ultrasound machine. Shiloh was moving fine – he was just very sleepy, however, the technician’s hand slipped up toward my liver and her faced scrunched. There were some masses next to my liver that they’d never seen before. At this point, my dad came to meet us from the airport. My OB ended up being on call and met us at the hospital and told me that they needed to find out what those masses were but that the small hospital was not the best place for me. The nurses gave me a steroid shot to help Shiloh’s lungs in case he had to be born soon – 6 weeks early – and my OB worked through the night calling the big hospital to make them take me as a patient as I got a CT scan without any more answers. By the next afternoon, I was finally transferred to Inova Fairfax, the large hospital, as a complex case.
Over the next 24 hours a group of doctors, all from different specialties, ran tests on me as both of our families gathered. The worry was palpable in the room as the doctors came in Monday night to give us their decision. I sat uncomfortably in the hospital bed while attached to several IV lines as the doctors told us their decision. Tomorrow morning I would go into surgery. The masses near my liver were hemorrhaging and they wanted to go into surgery with three steps: first, deliver Shiloh, second, check the mass under the baby near my ovary, and third, check the bleeding masses next to my liver. I’d never had any type of surgery done but I felt an overwhelming peace from God about the whole situation. Our families decided where everyone would sleep and were all back at the hospital at 5AM as I was prepped for surgery. My husband, of course, stayed the night in the room with me and my mom. In the middle of the night, he woke me up and began sobbing saying, “I can’t do this without you”. It was then when I realized he was worried I wouldn’t make it. I smiled back at him and told him with the peace I’d had through the whole process which could’ve only come from the Lord, “I’m not going to die you crazy. I will see you when I wake up my love.”
At 6AM the transport came for surgery prep and at 8:15AM I was wheeled into the operating room. As my gurney went down the hallway, the Lord showed me an angel go before me into the operating room. I was at complete peace with surgery – no fear. I remember telling the surgeons to correct my name on the dry erase board because it was spelled incorrectly – Then I woke up in the ICU.
After the tubes were removed and I had some rest, my mom was the one who told me. Shiloh was delivered safely and was in the NICU and they found ovarian cancer – but they were able to remove all tumors and all physical traces of the cancer by performing a hysterectomy and cutting some of my liver. My body was hemorrhaging because it was trying to save itself and my left ovary had collapsed with cancer. There was stage 4 ovarian cancer in my body – both ovaries, a tumor under the baby, and three tumors next to my liver – all found and removed because I didn’t think Shiloh was moving enough. I responded with, “at least I have one kid. I’m at peace with it” – and I still am.
The fact that I woke up was a miracle. The surgery took 7 hours and they were able to remove all cancer and deliver my son safely because I was able to endure the long hours when the doctors had prepared in case I bled out. Because of endometriosis, I was never supposed to be able to conceive, which we did. The doctors have no clue how long I’ve had the cancer, but our son grew strong without any issues though he literally surrounded by death and cancer in the womb. If he were never conceived, they wouldn’t have found the cancer in me – if they had, then they would’ve removed everything and every hope of his existence would’ve been removed.
Several days later, I told my youngest brother this, “I have never in my life been sure of God’s existence more than right now”. God saved our lives for each other – we were meant to be alive for His purpose to show His glory. The doctors keep calling my case “unusual” because the statistics say I shouldn’t be alive or have made it or for my son to have made it. Where science and medicine fall short, in comes God.
I am currently undergoing chemotherapy to get rid of any lingering cancer cells. I will not grow weary. I will stand on the firm faith that God saved us both for a reason. He’s not done with me yet. I never would’ve written this for my story, but I’m glad to live whatever God writes for me next.