Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Joey Feek's journey is my inspiration

I have been sitting on this post for a week now.  I wrote it last Wednesday. I know some people close to me who are very private, extremely private.  I have had people ask me how I can talk about PCOS and my life so openly.  Why not? I have nothing to hide. I am not ashamed of anything. I have been through a lot...from a heart condition as a teenager (which has corrected itself) to PCOS and to what I wrote about in this post. I have received strength from others with PCOS.  We all received a little strength from Joey Feek's story. She didn't hide it. If one person out there takes anything away from what I have to say then that makes putting my life out there worth it. 100%.  So here is the post as I wrote it a week ago. 

Joey Feek passed away on Friday. I didn't even know who she was until she got sick. I then found myself immersed in her difficult journey as well as her inspirational music. If you don't know, Joey Feek was part of the country music duo Joey + Rory.  She bravely battled cervical cancer for almost two years, but lost the battle last week. She (and her husband, Rory) handled it with grace and a strong faith. I like to think she showed us all what life is really about and it certainly isn't the superficial crap we tend to prioritize.

There is a reason why I personally took to her story.  When I was 19, I was diagnosed with severe cervical dysplasia- precancerous cells one step down from cervical cancer. Immediately, I had a procedure done using an electrical wire loop to remove the bad cells. At that point in time I thought it was over. It would all be fine. I had to see my doctor every few months for the first year to see if the procedure had worked.  Almost a year later my doctor told me the precancerous were still hanging around. Here I went..back in for another procedure. This time they would try and freeze off the bad cells. I was only 20 years old. This had to work. I always thought, "I am too young for this. I am young...I can easily fight this off."  Again, I had to go in every 3-6 months for check ups.  I did well....for the next two years.  I beat this. I did it!  Wrong.

When I was 22 another test came back again with severe dysplasia. This time I had to go in for surgery. They had to remove a larger section to fully remove the cells and do a biopsy on them.  I had the surgery exactly one year before my husband and I were to get married. We were also told on that day that due to the number of procedures I had already had done that scar tissue may mean we could never have children.  Exactly one year before our wedding. To the day.  Talk about a punch in the gut.

This stone in my parents yard makes me smile every time I see it.
I can tell you that I started to believe that I would not be around to see my 30th birthday. All these procedures were not working. My hope was strong, but began to waver when the surgery rolled around. I was newly engaged and had a whole life planned out. This was not something that is part of anyone's plans.

The surgery was a success.  I went back every six months for check ups and every test started coming back clear.  They came back great for five years. Five years of putting our future into motion...graduating from college, getting married, moving to a new city, building a house.  I got diagnosed with PCOS in those five years, but learned that I could manage those symptoms (most of the time).  We still had the hope that despite everything we could still somehow, someway, have children.  Years of trying for children passed by.  I then had another appointment for a check up on my cervical cells five years after the surgery. The severe dysplasia was back. Shit. 

I had to go in for a procedure to remove the bad cells....yet again. This time everything was different. I got to the office and they immediately did a pregnancy test. Negative. Ok. It had been years. That was not exactly shocking.  The doctor came in to the room. She paused and just looked at me with a look of concern on her face. She said she had a bad feeling. She knew we wanted children and she knew another procedure would hinder that even more. She just said straight to me, "I have a bad feeling. I think we need to leave this alone for now."  She told us to come back in 3 months and we could discuss what to do.  Yep...I won't live to see 30.  That is what I had in my head even though I try to be a positive person.

This is why I am here.
We went home deflated. We didn't know what to do...or what to think.  Three days later after not feeling the greatest I took another pregnancy test on a whim.  IT WAS POSITIVE! After all we had been through we were going to have a baby.

When I went back to the doctor for my first check up she told us it was a blessing we did not do another procedure for the bad cells because I probably would have lost the pregnancy  (it was too early for the test in the office to come back positive the day of the scheduled procedure).  After an ultrasound, the heartbeat was great and although I had a cyst on my ovary, my doctor believed everything would be fine. She was right...I had a great pregnancy.  We have our only child...our little girl.  I am so grateful my doctor had that "bad feeling" that day or else we would not have her. God works in mysterious ways. I knew for sure he was with me and my doctor that day.

Even more mysterious is that ever since our daughter was born every pap smear has come back clean. 10 years.  10 blessed years.  I hold my breath at my yearly check up, but my hope is a raging inferno. I may not have my dream job, I may not have the three kids I wanted, I may need to lose weight, I may have my imperfections but you know what?  I am here.  I just wish Joey Feek could still be here to see her child grow up, but what I take away from her is that every day is precious. Every day truly is a gift from God. Joey knew that and lived her last days with courage that I can only dream to possess.  I can only strive to live a life like hers...with faith and humility. Why I am still here is part of his plan.  I will make the most of these days that at age 22 I thought I would never have.