Mother Of All Surgeries - Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP)
Try saying Pseudomysoma Peritonei 10 times…..ha, it’s a mouthful. It’s also a lot to wrap your head around when you are told, after waking up from a routine procedure that you have a rare mucinous tumour originating in the appendix. The APPENDIX?? Seriously universe!?? An organ that I don’t even need somehow sprouted cancer?
And so began my journey with PMP. Basically, if left untreated, the mucous produced from the tumour could lead to ‘jelly belly’ (not to be confused with those delightful miniature jelly beans), which could lead to organ failure. So naturally, after receiving the diagnosis we started researching the heck out of PMP, how and where to treat the damn thing.
It lead us to my superhero, Dr. Temple, based in Calgary, AB. This gem of a doc had been working with PMP patients from across the country and he agreed to take my case. I think if I had known what was in store, I’m not sure I would have jumped on the “let’s do this” train, quite as quickly. Treatment for me, included a 12-hour tumour debulking surgery, followed by a heated “HIPEC” chemo wash applied directly after surgery. In post-op ICU, complete with 16 tubes, I remember feeling like some sort of character from Alien mixed with the State Puff Marshmallow man. However, I got through it. The Simpsons got through it, and after 3 months I was back at work and back to life J
As much as I would love to stay I skipped off into the cancer-free sunset after that, the diseases unfortunately resurfaced an additional four times over the next 14 years. Each recurrence meant more surgery, more chemo and more daytime TV…shout out to ELLEN! Ha, but oddly enough, through it all though, I always had this underlying sense of “you got this” which stemmed from my trust in Dr. T. With each encounter, he magically seemed to put our minds and our hearts at ease and I will forever be thankful that we found him.
So sad sob story aside, this random ride with appendix cancer has pushed me out of numerous comfort zones. The phrase “Sarah, you’ve been through much worse” almost serves as my magic bullet for overcoming fear. From a breathless ascent up kilimanjaro, to a Vancouver-soaked triathlon, to belting out the anthem in front of 20,000 Canucks fans…it’s been an incredible ride. One I am excited to keep tackling, with or without PMP.
Just keep swimming, am I right?
- Sarah Simpson