I have surgery tomorrow.

A week ago I went and met with my surgeon and we discussed the plan for surgery and I got all my questions answered (as well as they can be). Here’s the summary. The PET scan I had the week before (the one where they inject me with radioactive isotopes and the cancer absorbs it and glows on the images) showed that indeed there is no more metastasis in my lymph nodes! (Which was one of the things I stood in faith about all those weeks ago, even when the surgeon said he could still see something and wasn’t sure.) This means I won’t have to worry about the cancer spreading to other regions of my body while I’m off chemo recovering from surgery and won’t need radiation. When I asked about incisions and how many and where, I was told if it were just my colon it would be a little laparoscopic incision around my belly button and if it were just my liver a diagonal incision just below my rib cage. But since it’s both, I’m going to have a central incision from my ribs down past my belly button to my pelvis, more or less. So basically my entire stomach is being split open. A friend joked, “Finally you won’t need all that makeup to show off your six pack, the scar can give all the central definition you’ll need”. It’s a good thing I like scars. Im just gonna say it, I will definitely miss my flat well defined abdominals and beach days will be interesting this summer.

The surgery will start in the liver and they’ll see how things look. The plan is still to remove the three smaller tumors from my left lobe and central part of my liver. If there’s time and they haven’t removed too much liver they’ll be brave and go for the forth tumor in my right lobe. Then they’ll head to my colon and take the tumor out there. If my colon is fibrous and it looks like it’ll leak they’ll then go and give me an ostomy and create an exit hole in my abdomen to allow the colon to heal without the stress of doing its job. The truth of the matter is, being a cancer anomaly, as far as age, health, fitness, and stubbornness, things like recovery, activity, and time frames are a grey area.

He said I’ll be with the anesthesiologist for the first two hours, getting baseline readings and an epidural to keep me from waking up in too much pain after the surgery. Then he’ll start the surgery around 9:30 am. “Now Jeannie,” he says to my mom, “I need you to understand that even starting that early it’s perfectly normal for me to still be working on her at eight or nine pm.” Also known as, it’s a ten to twelve hour surgery with the potential for me to be out for fourteen hours! Holy crap this is a major surgery!!!

There was more really good news given. I wouldn’t need to do golytely prep before the surgery. This was one of the things I was dreading most. Not eating before the surgery and having to do that horrible bowel prep again. I was planning on doing liquid diet for the two days leading up to the day before surgery just to make things easier. But what he told me was, I would be able to eat completely normally until the day before surgery!!! Such good news! I could do workouts and be with my friends without being a cranky starving wreck!

So I’ll be in ICU for one to three days and then in the hospital for up to ten days. Another thing he said was if he is able to remove all the cancer in one surgery I’ll have to stay in the hospital longer. I’m not a fan of this because the Crossfit Open starts the February 22. I know my doctor said walking would be a challenge after surgery but my post surgical goal is to go to the gym and cheer on my people as they do the first workout on February 23. So I hope I don’t have to stay in the hospital too long. (I’m also aware that this is pretty unrealistic but hey, a girls gotta dream!) One surgery is still the ideal and I still believe that’s how things are going to go! I’ll be on four to five days of bowel rest after the surgery which means no eating or drinking at allllll! I’ve been told I’ll be so uncomfortable and feeling so crappy that I won’t care about eating. Great. Just great.

All this logistics talk helped me recalibrate my heart for what’s ahead and to try and focus not on what I’ll be missing out on and unable to do but on making this the most efficient and best recovery ever. So I’ll write and draw and paint and read and finally finish the website for my business, Pike Physical Therapy and Fitness, and I’ll work on my base tan. The emotions of disappointment and unfairness come in waves, I’ve been tearing up while driving a lot this past week. The fight against sentiments like “I may never see these mountains again,” “I may never cuddle with Wallace again,” “I may never lift a barbell again,” “I might not hang out like this with my friends again,” “I might not hug my family again,” has been a bigger deal. But these thoughts do me no good! Cause really, I always appreciate things in my life. I’ve never really taken things for granted. Maybe it’s my personality or my realist mentality because Ive always known things are temporary and precious, even as a child. So I don’t let those thoughts or feelings take root. I dismiss them as soon as they come to mind. Somehow, I’m still not afraid of this surgery that will take a whole day and could end my life. I am confident in the things my God has whispered to my heart. There’s this verse in Luke that says “For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God will be without power or impossible of fulfillment.” So shoot. I’d much rather believe and side with that than let fear and sadness “prepare” my heart for disappointment. I’m still in good head and heart space and feel the ceaseless prayers holding me up and anchoring me in hope.

Get ready guys, this is where things get good and we see my God do wonderful, crazy, and impossible things! Stay tuned!


Having this surgery feels like, what I would imagine, being shipped off to boarding school after the best summer of your life would feel like. I’m getting homesick for my life. When I think of all the things in my life that I love so much that I won’t be able to participate in for the next couple of months I get so sad. I’m just being petty I know. It’s temporary. I’ll get to do all these things again once I recover but I just wanna plop down in the corner and cry about how unfair it all is. If we stick to the above scenario my “best summer ever” has group dinners at Stonefire grill, brunch dates on days off or Saturdays after a workout, margaritas and chili verde burritos at El Patron, hiking in the Arroyo, sweaty workouts with my favorite workout squads, cheering on friends in Crossfit competitions, falling asleep on friends couches cause I’m having too much fun to go home, margaritas and laughing seizures at Mijares, coffee dates at Jameson brown or Seed Baking co, or Cafe de Leche, or Lavendar and Honey, wine nights with friends, weightlifting and two a days, beach days with my favorite crew, my beautiful little house, heavy Italian food shared with friends at a long table, driving my car with the sunroof open and worship music cranked up, and don’t even get me started on all the Crossfit. I know I’ll get back to all these things “next summer” but I don’t want to “go to boarding school” and leave these things behind. I live an amazing, full, jam packed, adventurous life! I didn’t take it granted before and I certainly don’t take it for granted now.

As I head into surgery in less than a week, I can’t help but look back on all I have been brought through and feel overwhelmingly grateful. I am so grateful for my God and His care through this dark journey. I’m finding a huge component of this journey has been all of you and the many prayers prayed on my behalf. I have felt the need to be strong and smile and stay mentally tough through all of this but you should know that does not make me exempt from experiencing the darkness. I am so grateful all of you have been willing to walk this road with me.

When I first got diagnosed I was on my phone for what felt like thirty six hours straight. It was important to me that people hear from me and know I was ok and had hope, because it’s scary. Cancer is so scary. I felt from the start that I would be ok. I chose to believe it. Of course the diagnosis kept getting more and more serious and my initial resolve of believe was threatened over and over. But I had this amazing support base in my friends and family and Crossfit family. They knew me and backed me and never wavered, never contradicted my belief that I would get through this, even when facts didn’t always support it. For that, my heart bursts with gratitude.

You might say “Amy, I didn’t do anything for you.” But you have. You’ve believed with me.

Every time you’ve treated me normally, encouraged me in a workout, prayed for me, smiled at me, wished me well, text me, written a note, or sent a package, you were doing something to my heart. Every high five, coffee, margarita, snack, burrito, and hug has been a really big deal to me. I know without these things I would have LOST it. Nothing breaks a person like loneliness and over and over that was the lie whispered to my heart. “You’re alone. No one understands what you’re going through.” But you have been such a gift to me and all those little things that meant nothing to you made it easy to discern lies from truth and say, “No matter how I feel, I am definitely not alone.”

He used all of you to tell me I am never alone and how much He loves me. All of you are a glimpse of the Lord’s goodness to me. Without it, let me assure you, I would have lost heart. I would have made lies and loneliness my armor in this battle and I would not be heading into this surgery smiling ready for a fight. (Some days I’m smiling more than others.) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, faith is exhausting, and I don’t know why more people don’t tell you that! Believing that something is true when everything you can see, taste, touch, smell, hear and feel says the opposite is just hard work no matter how you look at it. For me, that has meant trusting that my friends don’t need to understand what I’m going through to be with me in it and that God only has good things for me with this cancer and is doing big things in the midst of it. One of my verses through this, well for the last couple of years if I’m being honest, is “I would have lost heart had I not believe that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for, hope for and expect the Lord. Be brave and of good courage. Let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, I say wait for, hope for and expect the Lord.” I have seen and will continue to see His goodness. I’ll continue to try and be brave and stout hearted in clinging to the character of my God. I will wait for Him to do what He wants in this. I chose to believe that even with stage IV cancer, He has nothing but good intentions for me, even in all the darkness surrounding that. I will expect and hope for that goodness to become my reality, for vapor to have substance and the invisible become visible. (Go ahead, tell me that in believing that, faith isn’t exhausting!)

Thank you for believing impossible things with me, holding me up and supporting me, and laughing with me through all of it (even when it’s offensive). Thank you for being a tool of God to tell me how loved, supported and cared for I am. To my people, you know who you are, I love you and appreciate you with an intensity you will never fully know. I feel braver already. I’ll probably re-read this a million times this week to remind myself of these truths when I’d rather cry and skip surgery all together.