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April 2023

Happy Spring all!
Where do I even begin… Maybe acknowledging the fact this April newsletter is going out in the LAST week of April?
Or maybe admitting the fact that looking back and reliving March is maybe the reason behind the tardiness.
While February proved to be a dumpster fire (literally), March felt more like an intense wildfire.  A month that felt so unpredictable, that we started predicting the worst…
And the worst sort of happened.
If you've been following along on my Youtube channel, you're well aware of my many emotional outbreaks.
Most of them stemming from what turned out to be one of my WORST lambing events in a very long time, but behind the tears was some deeper seeded fear.
At first it was fear of the unknown.
But as the month progressed, fear of the unknown turned into outright heartbreak as the unknown became known.
Jess was diagnosed with cancer.
I'll try to do a recap of how we got here, but Jess did a great job on her Youtube channel explaining what we know thus far (below).
In the fall of 2021,  Jess had some pretty major back pain that progressively got bad enough that she booked a doctor's appointment where an ultrasound showed a huge mass in her abdomen (19cm).  Unfortunately, they couldn't tell us anything as they couldn't see around the mass to know where it was stemming from.
They ordered her a CT scan, but that was DAYS away, and her pain was getting worse.
By scan day, Jess was in so much pain,  Mark admitted her into the ER immediately after the scan.
It turned out to be a wise decision.
The mass was a dermoid cyst in her ovary and the doctors were concerned the pain could potentially be the ovary starting to twist.
They booked her for emergency surgery the next day.
This surgery was done laparoscopically, and the cyst came back as benign.
We thought this nightmare was over.
It wasn't.
A year and a month post surgery,  Jess found another protrusion close to her previous surgery scar.
She immediately booked a doctor's appointment, and he was concerned enough to book her in that same day for an emergency CT scan.
He called with the results that night and informed Jess indeed she was right.  She has another mass, and it's already 16cm.
Two days later we met up with our surgeon, and a week later she once again went under the knife.
But this time, the surgeon came back to the room where I was waiting and looked quite serious.
She told me not only was there a 16cm cyst,  but that it was on her other ovary and that there were more smaller ones.
She was able to remove them, and she sent everything off for a full pathology report.
But she also informed me that it may be time to have a pretty serious talk with Jess about the possibility of freezing her eggs while she's still young.
The room around me just sort of started buzzing, and I honestly don't remember much of what she said after this.
I was reeling.
How do I tell my 20 year old daughter her surgeon thinks it may be a good idea to consider fertility treatments?
Recovery was brutal for Jess.
This surgery was more invasive as they had to open her up to remove the cysts… but by week two, her spirit was much more Jess.
Which is good,  because the worst hadn't actually happened yet.
It took five weeks for the pathology report to come back. We sat with our surgeon, who seemed pretty solemn, now that I think back.
She explained that unlike the first surgery where the cyst (also known as a teratoma) was mature and benign, this time she had smaller ones, and one was an immature teratoma that indeed had cancer cells.
If there was a day I wished I could trade places with my daughter, it was this day. 
This moment.
It shouldn't be her.
Why is this happening?
…you know the drill… the one where you question everything and everyone in hopes of any of this making sense.
It never does.
Life since March 10th (diagnosis day) has been a whirlwind of appointments, new doctors and figuring out a plan/timeline of her treatment process.
Today, as we near the end of April, she's already done a round of fertility treatment in Toronto and this Friday she will once again be in surgery to remove her one ovary and fallopian tube, as well as taking some samples to rule out any chance of spread to other organs.
As it stands now, our oncologist wants to begin chemo as quickly as possible after Jess's surgery.  
The chemo part of this journey is perhaps the scariest right now.
And again, it stems from the unknown.
We've had some scary moments together, Jess and I.
But we've had some wonderful moments too.
We've sat in hospital parking lots sobbing.
We've sat in rush hour deadlock traffic laughing at our hunger-induce road rage.
And we've now sat amongst hundreds of the bravest souls in one of the biggest waiting areas I've ever witnessed, the cancer wing.
And it's here that I realized we aren't alone on this journey, and we are not alone in these new feelings.
There will be many more scary moments over the next few months, but I know deep down… there will be wonderful ones too.
We have already read hundreds (maybe thousands) of messages and emails from this community, and now a new community supporting Jess… a community of fighters, support people and of course, survivors.
And although I have been leery of sharing Jess's story online, I am reminded through these messages that we are not alone in this.
We will try to keep you all updated through this process, as Jess is bound and determined to share her story in hopes of connecting with others who also maybe facing some scary stuff.
And a special thanks to those who have also shared their journey online… it has helped us walk this new path knowing someone has already blazed the trail and has left us a bit of a roadmap.
Thank you for being so brave.
It's made our daughter brave.
And finally to you all…
Thank you again for the unbelievable support through all this.  
Just know that we feel the prayers, we feel the love.
And we will get through this.
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