Welcome to emilyandbret.com
So who are Emily and Bret, and why do they merit an entire website? We’re just a couple of kids who happen to love each other a great deal, and who happen to be going through a great ordeal.
Emily and I were married on August 11, 2012 in a small ceremony surrounded by friends and family.
Here are some highlights if you’re into that sort of thing:
Pretty cute, huh? Emily’s not bad either.
Honestly, the wedding is a pretty good snapshot of who we are: a happy couple with a great group of friends, looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together, for better or worse.
And then life happened, and we got a little of the worse sooner than we wanted.
The fight is on.
In the months leading up to our wedding, Emily was experiencing discomfort in her abdomen. In the weeks prior, it had become almost unbearable at times. The week after our wedding, we got a CAT scan that showed significant abnormalities in Emily’s abdomen. After numerous phone calls, referrals and subsequent visits with specialists, we were told the abnormalities looked liked cancer.
On August 31, the day before we were scheduled to set sail on a week-long honeymoon and at the strong advice of our doctors, Emily underwent extensive surgery to remove tumors and other areas affected by disease in her abdomen. Unfortunately for us, the procedure included a full hysterectomy. A week later, pathology results from the surgery came back and Emily, at age 27, was diagnosed with stage 3 primary peritoneal cancer. Peritoneal cancer is so rare that most people outside of the medical world have never heard of it. It is categorized as a gynecological cancer and treated just like ovarian cancer, although the peritoneum is actually a membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and this cancer can affect both women and men.
After four quick weeks of recovery from surgery, Emily began her first of six, 21-day cycles of chemotherapy. She had two ports, or access points, on her body where the chemo is injected: one near her shoulder and the other on her rib cage. The port in her shoulder is pretty standard for intravenous chemotherapy to treat lots of types of cancer, however the port near her stomach allows treatment to flow directly into her abdomen where the cancer cells are present. It’s an aggressive approach, but we liked the tag-team aspect of knocking this disease around from two angles. As with all things cancer-related, things didn’t go as planned. A complication with the second port resulted in a second minor surgery. In addition to that, nausea and fatigue were especially rough for a gal who loves to eat and be out in the world. After six cycles we were told it was time to see if we were making progress. Unfortunately, scans showed that we weren’t. Treat option 1 was a bust for us, so we moved on to hormone suppressant therapy, which in theory would starve the cancer cells of the estrogen believed to help fuel them. Treatment option 2 – bust. Our doctors decided it was time to think outside of the box and try clinical trials, which is where we are now. You can read all about that in our blog.
Treating cancer is challenging to say the least, but support and encouragement of all kinds from our friends and family have made each bump a little smoother, each obstacle a little more manageable.
We are fortunate to have amazing family and friends who have stepped up in unimaginable ways to support us through this. From bringing us meals, to taking Emily to appointments, to cleaning our house, to simply sending encouraging words, they have kept us uplifted every single day. And we are always open to new friends joining in.
One example of how great these folks are is this video compilation of their words of fortitude for Emily. All the photos were gathered in complete secrecy, and then the final video was shown to her on the morning of her first chemo treatment. She watched it several times that day, and still watches it any time she needs a reminder that she is not alone.
It is through the support of our family and friends that we are able to deal with our present circumstance and with them that we can look forward to our future.