First off – a few maternity photos of one of our favorite families! Welcome baby Kai! You are SO loved! xoxo
It’s not cancer. It’s not cancer.
The last 5 weeks have been a mix of emotions. At first I was in pain so I didn’t care, and then when I started to heal I was scared. So so scared while I waited for my pathology results. I had a Bosniak 3 renal mass which means there was a 50-70% chance it was cancer- this is always something I have kept quiet. I perfected telling people we just had to “wait and see” but I was always thinking about it. Always. I couldn’t sleep, I was easily distracted. I was quietly preparing myself for bad news, while trying to be strong on the outside. As sad as this is, I was already thinking of funeral songs and was getting a list together of things that I wanted to tell my husband/daughter/son if things got bad. Isn’t that terrible??!! I never told anyone. Not even Chris. I just wanted to have a little bit of control while I was waiting for the results.
When I met with my surgeon this week, he told me the news. The best news. What I had was a rare multilocular cystic nephroma – It was benign. I was so shocked I was shaking. I cried when I got to my car. Everything is better now. I still have some healing to do and will likely be off work for at least another month but I’m definitely heading in the right direction. It was tested in Winnipeg and also at The Mayo Clinic so I’m feeling double sure I’m going to fully recover.
I know I am lucky and so loved. So a big thank you to everyone that has made this easier on me and my family.
A little update to all of my wonderful followers, clients & friends.
It has been exactly 3 weeks since my right kidney removal surgery (radical nephrectomy) and I am happy to be home recovering with my family.
The morning of the surgery was intense. I had to be at the hospital by 6:30am so Gavin slept at my sister Julie’s house and we dropped Kate off at my friend Annick’s house. I was fine until I got to Annicks. No crying, feeling calm and even joking around. Annick gave me a tiny piece of paper with some special words on it and I lost it. I cried until we got to the hospital and then I got it together. Check in was fast, I went into the pre-surgery area and met with a team of doctors/anesthesiologists/nurses. Everyone was so wonderful. I started crying again when I had to say goodbye to Chris but then stopped again when we were in the actual surgery room. I got an IV, chatted with everyone, and honesty, that is all I remember! I don’t even remember them telling me to breath in any masks or whatever they do. They must have slipped something in my IV!
From what I hear, the surgery took about 4.5 hours. Now, the next bit of info was told to me by my surgeon/other doctors and I don’t know the full details but shortly after they started surgery (that was supposed to be laparoscopic) there was an accident and the IVC (inferior vena cava) was cut. Then I lost a lot of blood. Then they had to open me up. I have a big big 14 inch incision running from my chest around to my side.They had to call in another surgeon to repair the damage. I had a few blood transfusions and when I woke up, I was totally out of it. I was pale and sick and in so much pain. I was supposed to be out of recovery around 1:30pm and wasn’t out until 9pm. I had another blood transfusion and they gave me an epidural to control the pain. Once I got the epidural I went to 4A step-down which is I guess a step down from the ICU? I spent 6 days there. The first few days were nuts. I was in SO much pain, but I don’t love narcotics so I was fighting with the decision to take things that were offered to me. Once I embraced the pain meds, I was a little more comfortable. I started walking a little bit on day 4 but I was so weak and wobbly and probably stoned from the medication that it was hard. I had another transfusion and then I started to feel human again. The mass was large. So so large. Larger than a football all jammed inside my body. No one knew it was that big. It has been sent away to pathology and I will wait patiently for results. The hardest part of this is wondering if it’s cancer. I think about it all day. And all night. I say to myself that it will be a real miracle if it’s not cancer. So I will wait…
On day 6, when I found out I was allowed to go home I was SO EXCITED! I can’t describe how much I missed my family. Once I got home, things were a little overwhelming. I was used to the quiet. I was used to a nurse helping me with whatever I needed. As much as I loved being home, I found it hard the first couple days. Fast forward to the following week, I was doing *pretty* good and then I got a fever. And it wouldn’t go away. And I knew that was bad. After 2 days I went to my doctors and it turns out I had a terrible bladder infection that worked it’s way up to my kidney. My poor kidney! I was on so many pain meds, that I didn’t feel any pain from the infection. She prescribed some antibiotics and strict bed rest and a couple days later, my fever finally broke!
This week I am making some progress. I walked to the mailbox down the street – with a walker – but I did it!! I look forward to walking a little bit more every day and getting some of my energy back. I hear it can take months until you feel like your normal self again so I’m waiting patiently for that. My incision hurts…oh does it hurt! You know what really sucks ? That they started the surgery laparoscopically so I have all those incisions too. So all together I have 4 little ones and one really REALLY big one! The 4 little ones feel o.k but the big ones feels rough.
I wonder how long it will take me to feel better. For now, I will rest.
I can’t thank everyone enough for all the support. If I told you how many texts, emails, messages I received every day, you would never believe me! I am loved. So so loved.
“You never know how strong you are… until being strong is the only choice you have”
I remember the first time I was asked about my kidney. It was during a routine ultrasound while I was pregnant with Gavin and the doctor said “your right kidney is funny looking”. That’s it. I didn’t think too much about it, I was over the moon excited about my pregnancy and I felt totally fine. A few months after I delivered Gavin I was sent for a MRI and they discovered a cyst inside my kidney. At this point, it was only 4cm and they decided to keep an eye on it. Then we found out I was pregnant again! Without going into too much detail, I had some kidney related complications at around 19 weeks and while I was in the hospital, I had another MRI – this time the cyst had grown to 8cm. There was not much they could do at that point, I was pregnant and feeling fine. Recently, I had another MRI and the cyst has grown to 12 x 8 cm. It has taken over my entire kidney and my left kidney is doing most of the work. I still have no side effects from this but the cyst is quite complicated and needs to be removed. Because it’s in the center of my kidney, my entire right kidney needs to be removed as well. After that they will send it away to pathology and we will wait for the results and go from there.
How do I feel? I’m fully terrified. I’m pretty sad. I just want to be o.k for my family. I try not to think about it too much because that’s when things get crazy and I’m awake all night going through different scenarios in my head. Kate is so young…and Gavin is so busy…and although I’m SO thankful I have an amazing husband, I worry about how crazy the next few weeks will be for him.
My surgery is scheduled for next week – it is all happening so quickly. I will be in the hospital for around 5 days and then I will be recovering at home for a few months. I keep wondering how I can heal faster so that I can go back to work – I have weddings to shoot, I have families to make memories for. But I just need to rest. Heal. Let me body get used to only 1 kidney. I need to do all the things I would tell a friend to do if they were going through this. Work can come later. Take care of yourself and your family.
Jennifer Lee Photography has been around for 8 whole years! Every year more successful than the last. You guys are so amazing – so faithful and supportive! I know you will be right here waiting for me when I’m healed. I am so so grateful.
I have a few amazing photographers in my life that have stepped up and offered to help during this time. They will help to keep my business running and I’m so so excited to sit back and watch the magic happen.
Thank you again for all of your love and support. I’m so lucky to have such supportive fans rooting for me during this difficult time.