I am a personal trainer and fitness competitor. I was about four weeks out from my fifth figure competition when I realized something was not right. I was dieting for fat loss and I trained about 2 1/2 hours a day in the gym, but my tummy wouldn't go down. My tummy is always the last to disappear, but this was weird. I could feel the outline of something in my abdomen. I wasn't hurting so I just kept going. I was tired, but with my training and diet, I was used to that.
I went to a doctor friend and asked him to see what he thought. He couldn't diagnose me but did order an MRI. I didn't have an OB/GYN, so I saw him the next day and he immediately said, "go to the ER, this has to come out, whatever it is." That scared me, and I went straight to the ER. After a CT scan, ultrasound and exam, I scheduled an appointment with an OB/GYN. Surgery was scheduled, but within four days, the tumor ruptured. I was still working out, just not hard, and I was at the gym when it ruptured.
I was in surgery within two hours of arriving at the hospital. When they saw it they knew, but they sent the biopsy off and then sent it for a second opinion before letting me know. The tumor had caused other issues, so I had to have a procedure on my kidney within ten days of my surgery.
I was a mess. But when they got the results back, it was like a sucker punch. All I could think and say was, "This can't happen; I take care of myself! I eat right and exercise daily! How could this happen to me?"
When my doctor told me what type of cancer it was, a uterine leiomyosarcoma, I said, "I don't have a uterus!" I had a hysterectomy 11 years prior, and this cancer had evidently grown from fibers of uterine muscle that remained in my abdomen. The doctor said, "It is rare and aggressive." My response was, "I'm rare and aggressive!" But... I was so shocked!
After I met with my oncologist, and he met with the national tumor board, they called me with the plan of action. Taking into consideration my health, they felt it would be best to just watch me closely every three months.
Recovery is interesting. I am finding out what Lynn's new normal is. I am a very active mom of four, fitness professional and overall driven woman. But the surgery threw me right into full menopause. I don't have the same energy level I had before, and I hate that. I feel like I have to work extra hard to get the desired look I want. But my thoughts have to be on being healthy.
My children, who were my biggest support, have fallen back into just being kids, as if that moment never happened. I am trying to do that myself, but I get emotional now. I think the realization that I was diagnosed with this hits me differently every day. I have refused to talk about this cancer as something I have. I say, "I was diagnosed with" but I don't say I had it, ever!
Now is a day-to-day moving forward. I tell my clients that baby steps are still steps, and I am applying that thought process to my life as well. I don't have the energy I had, and I'm working through that daily. With the goals I have, I need the energy. My eating has been consistently clean over the past four years but now I am really using my diet to fuel my body for my day to day. I am currently training for another figure competition. I want to do the one in 2014 that the cancer didn't let me do this year.
Thoughts for New Patients
Trust the Lord! He truly is the healer! Get involved with other people. Give because it gets you out of yourself and keeps you focused on others.
I have also learned the value of rest. If your body is tired, rest. But...don't give up! Remember that "baby steps are still steps!" Set goals. Live life. Get rid of negative influences. Be that living testimony! I like to let people know that I kicked cancer's butt!
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Copyright © December 2013 Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative.