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!


Immediately following my CT scans I walked over to my oncologists office for a lab draw. I’ve said this before but just to provide background, before every chemo treatment they need to check my “labs”. Labs include, my white blood cells (WBCs), neutrophils, creatinine, and liver function tests, just to name a few. Basically, we need to make sure that I’m stable enough to get chemo. So my WBCs need to not be too high (too high means I’m fighting an infection already); my neutrophils need to be high enough, (if it’s too low my immune system is too weak); my creatinine needs to be low enough (too high means my kidneys are working too hard to filter the chemo out); and my liver function tests need to be within normal limits (too low means the chemo is being too hard on my liver). Any of these numbers not measuring up has the potential to postpone or change the dose of my chemo. All this is to say, we check labs before I get chemo.

The nurse took my blood, no problem (I mean its never a problem, I’ve got excellent veins as CrossFit has helped with vascularity). “I don’t even need the tourniquet!” is a phrase I often hear. I sit twiddling my thumbs in the lab draw chair waiting for my preliminary results (just to make sure I don’t need a neupogen injection to tell my body to produce more neutrophils and make me ready for Tuesdays chemo before I go home). My oncologist pops out of her office. My numbers were all ok, I was a little neutropenic but not too bad. She always checks on my symptoms, how much bleeding am I having in my stool, how is my tingling in my hands and feet, how much cramping and pain have I been having, those kinds of things. After I provide her with favorable answers she replies, “Lets check out the scans, I don’t have the reports from the radiologist but we can still take a look at them.” I can tell she already looked at them is kinda excited as I sit in an empty chair in her office. First, she brings up my last set of scans from November. Every time I see them I get a better idea of the tumors size and orientation and relationship to each other. Then she brings up the new scans, taken only an hour before. I was pretty shocked at how much smaller the tumors seemed. It’s a good sign when my untrained eyes can distinguish differences between the two scans. Heck, one of the tumors was even difficult to see as it was all shadowy. My oncologist agreed, things looked much smaller, we’d have to wait for the radiologist to measure everything but things looked good. “My mom is going to flip!” I tell her. But for me, this is by far the happiest I’ve been at any news I’ve received. You know, when your heart kinda hits the ceiling and you can’t help but smile? That was me. My oncologist was going to wait for the official report to talk to the surgeon at Loma Linda that afternoon and give me a call.

When she called me later she had even more good news! My tumor marker had dropped from 110 before the last dose of chemo to 67 in just two weeks. The radiologist report from the CT scan was back with measurements for my tumors and all the tumors in my liver had shrunk almost 50%. The metastasis in my lymph nodes were both completely gone!  She had spoken with Dr. Reeves, the liver surgeon, (experienced, friendly, within my insurance network, and a complete and specific answer to prayer) and he says it’s time to talk surgery. (!!!) I was scheduled for more chemo Tuesday, as planned, but without the Avastin, the drug I would need to be off for six weeks prior to surgery as it has high risk of bleeding and stuff.

To fully understand how exciting, miraculous and just straight up huge this conversation was, please read the previous post, “Hope”. Then can we take a minute to talk about how ridiculous my God is? Doubt what you want, but this is crazy.

It had been a three month mental and emotional battle, not instantaneous, but that just means it’s a bigger deal. The work that’s been done in my heart has been darker and deeper than the wave of a magic wand. I went from a “stable”, life threatening, aggressive colon cancer, with liver tumors too big to be taken out surgically, that was working its way up to my lungs via metastasis in my lymph nodes and tumor markers not low enough to say that chemo was working well enough … to being a surgical candidate… a “responsive”, curable, aggressive colon cancer with liver tumors small enough to be removed surgically, not spreading anywhere and tumor markers low enough to say that chemo is working. My oncologist grabbed me by the shoulders and looked into my eyes and said, “Amy, you’re going to be cured. You’re going to be my miracle patient!” That took my breath away. Before my scan I had said “Where I’m challenged is to stand in faith on some things I feel are true despite the current facts. I’m believing my scans will say things are ready for surgery. I’m believing that my tumor markers will be within range for the surgeon to say I’m ready for surgery.” Stop it. Shut up. Thats crazy.

When you continue your journey there may be much mist and cloud. Perhaps it may even seem as though everything you have seen and been promised was just a dream, or the work of your own imagination. But you have seen reality and the mist which seems to swallow it up is the illusion. Always go forward along the path of obedience as far as you know it until I intervene, even if it seems to be leading you where you fear I could never mean you to go.” (Hinds Feet on High Places, Hurnard)

I stumbled upon this highlighted passage in a book I read in college. How cute right? Little college Amy, so innocent, no idea how deep that quote could go in her heart and become true in her life. I’m tearing up typing this because even though I’ve been sitting with this news for a week I hadn’t really processed it. To be honest, I still don’t think I have. But whats real? I love a God who trades openly in the currency of the impossible. I’m lucky that I get to have this be my tangible reality. He’s not scared by my anxieties, insecurities, doubts, or shortcomings. Guys, this is really good news. What’s even better is He’s not just unafraid he loves me and knows how to support me and surround me with people in a way that only the language of my heart knows how to speak. Thats so crazy cool. How many people get to watch the finger of God write such clear messages across their life and heart?

I wish I could say everything is better now but the battle for my heart, hope and sanity still rages. I still cried my way through chemo on Tuesday. Meaning my body and heart were like “Please, Amy, no!” and made my eyes leak all day. Which sucks because I’m convinced one of the drugs makes tears burn my eyes like acid. Tuesday was one of the worst chemo days to date. I got more good news though, my tumor markers were down to 45, aka it dropped the amount it normally does in a week in only three days. I can only assume with such light and good news, chemo effects will be darker and I walked out in a severe lightheaded, nausea fog that made the nurse concerned. My parents got the flu so I evacuated their house to my house to hunker down into an illness free bubble. I was pretty worried I’d hate it but its been fine, nice even. Great, I’m still healthy. I haven’t gotten sick since my first day of chemo. But my immune system is still weak and with surgery on the horizon I can not afford to get sick! So no CrossFit for me? No going to work next week either? This whole “super severe worst flu we’ve seen in years” season is really cramping my style. I hate being smart and making adult responsible decisions. I just want to go work out and lift weights with my friends! CrossFit is such a heart breaker!!

Still standing on faith for one surgery not two. When my oncologist talked to my surgeon on Friday he still said he wanted to do two surgeries. I don’t blame him. Two staged surgery is safer, I wont be as likely to die. First surgery get the tumor out of my colon and take out the lobe of my liver with the three smaller tumors, then let my liver regenerate and stabilize and go back in for the huge tumor in my the other lobe of my liver, the riskier surgery. But I don’t want two surgeries! I want to have surgery, recover and get back to life!! But hey, well see what he says on Tuesday…


I woke up. I ate breakfast, sliced avocado, scrambled eggs with tomatoes and cheddar cheese, a slice of sourdough toast with appricot jam, and a slice of wheat toast (well Daves to be more specific) as a vessel for my eggs. Then we got things together and headed to my oncologist office. I was told I would have the private room for my first session so when it was offered to me by the receptionist I said yes and made myself at home. I walked past the three walled room with shoulder to shoulder arm chairs and empty IV poles. The private room had an exam table next to radiation machine and a sink, both of which were stacked with those fleece blankets that have the tied together fringe around the edges. They were real big college Christmas presents in the early 2000’s. There was a chair against the wall and a plastic reclining arm chair. Just outside the door is their phlebotomy chair where every chemo patient gets their labs checked before chemo. So I saw the parade of characters sit down and have their blood drawn. The chemo nurse, Lucene, was very nice and friendly. She took my blood relatively painlessly. She also complimented me on my port, recognizing the surgeon who put it in. “Oh yes, I would know his ports anywhere, so well placed, very clean, not a lot of bruising or swelling. It’s a good port.”

My oncologist came by and looked somewhat flustered, although always cheerful and confident. Apparently, over the weekend she was doing more research on adding a biologic chemo agent in case the genetic tests come back reporting that the tumor is sensitive to medication that biologically affect the tumor (attacking blood supply to the tumor, for example). But biological chemo in addition to standard chemo can make things too toxic, too much diarrhea (to the extent of hospitalization, for example). So if we need a biological chemo we would have to drop one of the standard chemo meds. The question this raises is what affects does that have on the tumors resistance or the efficacy of the their chemo meds without it. So she was on the phone all morning talking with specialists at UCI, City of Hope, USC, and the Mayo Clinic. Just because there isn’t anything published doesn’t mean that experiencially doctors don’t have a clue. But I’m a rare patient, the involvement of my liver, as I said before, is also a variable not taken into account during many studies. The goal of our treatment isn’t to irradicate the tumors it’s to get them to a point of resectability as quickly as possible so that too is a variable not accounted for in published studies.

Lucene came in and took the dressing off my fresh, sore, port. She brought out a weird looking thick needle with IV attachment and said’ “This goes into your port. This will hurt.” And basically jammed this needle through my skin into the aforementioned fresh, sore, port. In reality, I’m sure she just slid it into the port through my skin and did not jam it in there but I was still pretty sore. Then she flushed the line with heparin until blood showed up ensuring the line to my subclavian vein was clear. So I was hooked up to pre-chemo drips of anti-nausea medications while we wrestled with knowns and unknowns and weighed costs and benefits and swapped ideas with big deal doctors all over the place. What was amazing is that doctors were calling back my oncologist personally and discussing my case. Lucene came back in and slowed the last pre-chemo drip to allow for more time and to mix the chemo meds. There was a concensus, go with the four standard but aggressive colon cancer drugs. If we need to do a biologic in the future we can but for now let’s stick with what we know shrinks tumors fast and get me to surgery. 

I haven’t decicded if it’s good or bad to have your first round of chemo be when you have a head cold. On the one hand, you feel like crap. You have the sore throat and head congestion that makes you feel groggy. On the other hand, do you feel like crap because of chemo? You can’t be sure. Are your cold symptoms just progressing or do you feel lightheaded and dizzy from chemo? There were definite chemo things happening to me like hot flashes (which are so weird! Like an instant fever coming from inside you, but my feet were freezing!) and what I fondly refer to as drunk eyes (they just can’t focus well and are slow to look from one side of the room to the other). Those are the most noteworthy, not, cold like symptoms I attribute to chemo. The rest? Who knows.

So the first drug, izotecan, hung there for two hours, making me loopy and groggy. Then the next two work in conjunction with each other, oxalyplatin and leukovorin, and are hung together, dripping at the same time over two hours. I was assured the next round would go faster. Lucene wasn’t sure how I would tolerate it so she had it drip slowly. The forth drug, 5-FU, was a pump that I would go home with which would deliver the medication over the next 48 hours. The pump was placed in a bag that I wore like a cross body purse and attached to a thin IV line still attached to my port. So basically I look like I have a small space station docked on my chest. 

Hopefully we get the tests back on my tumor genes in the next couple of days. With my new cross body purse and space station on my chest I headed home. I had a super relaxing afternoon laying on my bed looking out open windows onto my backyard jungle. It wasn’t until 7pm my old friend the miserable intestinal cramping and corresponding symptoms vamped up. It was one of the worst nights I can remember 7/10 writhing moaning pain with a headache alllllll niiiiight. Goooooodness! It died down to a 4/10 by around 8 am. No nausea though so that’s great. I was instructed to keep ahead of nausea with Reglan and Zofran and keep on top of diarrhea with Imodium. Who knows how I will respond? I might even have latent fatigue and nausea show up four or five days after chemo.

I’m exhausted today, groggy, crampy, but overall doing well. I just needed a day to chill.

Waaaait… cancer?


My name is Amy. I am a physical therapist and a CrossFit athlete and yesterday I got diagnosed with colon cancer. It’s pretty crazy, very surreal, and so absurd I keep laughing and shaking my head. I’m 32 years old. I’m in the best shape of my life, the healthiest and strongest I’ve ever been and somehow I have cancer?

Heres the back story, if you’re squeamish just squint your eyes and blur the words on the page.

About 6 months ago I started noticing blood in the toilet after I’d poop. I’m in healthcare. I’ve worked for the past 8 years as a physical therapist in a hospital. I see patients who are the sickest of the sick, after a stroke, a heart attach, surgery, comas, in ICU, med/surg and telemetry. So I’m no stranger to illness, blood, vomit, drool, or wiping other people’s butts. I work closely with an amazing staff of nurses and doctors and surgeons. I read all their notes in detail, and beyond what I learned in college and graduate school have learned a lot about the human body and what it looks like when things go wrong.
I know it’s the dark poop that’s bad, the “tarry” stool, the “coffee ground” stool. That kind of blood means there’s a bleed somewhere in your upper digestive track. Bleed too much and you get anemia and hypovolemic shock. I’ve seen it at work plenty of times, gotten it smeared all over my gloves even. I know that red blood is much lower in your GI (gastro intestinal) track, no serious risk of anemia, most of the time it’s hemorrhoid or an anal or external cut. So when I started seeing red blood on the toilet paper and in the toilet bowl I shrugged my shoulders and flushed. “Ugh weightlifting,” I thought. Probably hemorrhoid from all the straining I do under a heavy barbell in Crossfit.

I started Crossfit 3 and a half years ago. I’m one of those people who had a gym membership for a year and went 5 times. I hate and cringe at the word exercise much less do it. I tell people that if I’d heard about Crossfit or known what it was when I started there’s no way I would have joined. The hype would have scared me away for sure. But instead I walked in, out of shape but with a strong athletic background, totally clueless. The intense workouts, where I could compete against myself, drew me in. I told everyone, I was doing Crossfit so that I could eat whatever I wanted. I explained to skeptics that I was sipping the koolaid with my eyes open. Then my competitive edge and semi perfectionist tendencies collided with weightlifting and intense workouts and this amazing community of people (I know everyone says that but it’s truuuuuue!) and I was hooked. I got addicted to the satisfaction of finishing workouts that seemed impossible, getting stronger, and my personality and character being challenged and stretched. I started doing extra training and joined the weightlifting club and doing competitions and all of a sudden fitness was a passion. I started eating clean because my crappy eat whatever I wanted diet wasn’t fueling my workouts and I kept feeling dizzy or hungover.
So all I knew about fitness and health and the human body said occasional blood was no big deal. When it got more consistent instead of resolving I went to see my primary doctor who agreed that it was probably hemrrhoids. But the bleeding continued and increased in frequency even. Then my low back started aching at night when I would lay down. I tried stretching it, rolling it out with a foam roller, digging my fist into the muscles at the small of my back. There was no relief and I also couldn’t reproduce my ache. “I know, I strained my psoas somehow!” But stretching and smashing my psoas didn’t help or reproduce the ache. It was diffused through my lower abdomen too and that’s when I realized  “Man these are intestinal cramps!!”
Its important to interject here, and again, blur your vision sensitive ones, intestinal cramps are no stranger to me. I’ve had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) since I was a kid. ” I carry my stress in my bowels” I always say. Before school plays, soccer games, midterms, finals, diarrhea was the norm. Granted, these cramps felt different but still that’s what they were. They started waking me up in the middle of the night a couple times a week. I don’t remember when the mucous started but my 5x a night trips to the bathroom went from stool to just blood and mucus. I was moving, starting a physical therapy business out of my Crossfit gym, I was pretty stressed.  Things slowed down but my bowels didn’t. I went on vacation with my family even and it went from a couple nights a week to every night of the night of the week and  during the day too. There were days when I would make 15 plus trips to the bathroom and 5-10 times a night. This was obviously not my normal IBS. Google said it was ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Both of which are lifelong diagnosis requiring medications. From my perspective there was just no way. As things kept getting worse I had made an appointment to see a GI specialist. I wasn’t losing weight, my appetite wasn’t affected, my symptoms didn’t change with diet changes, I was competing in Crossfit competitions and PR’ing my WL (weight lifting). It couldn’t be anything that bad.
After 9 weeks of consistent aforementioned symptoms, I got in to see the GI doctor. After describing my symptoms and answering his questions he took me through his line of reasoning as to what could be going on. Bacterial or viral infection could be ruled out by the duration of my symptoms. Food allergy could be ruled out by the presence of blood. Ulcerative colitis was the most probable diagnosis because it matched all the symptoms. The colitis, or inflammation of the colon, causes diarrhea because the colon is too inflamed to absorb water. The ulcers or lesions often bleed and secrete mucous.  Both can cause pain and intestinal spasms. No one knows what causes it, generally an autoimmune response treatable with medication but not curable. It can only be diagnosed with a colonoscopy, biopsies are taken of the ulcers and a pathologist diagnoses the lesions and the appropriate medication is prescribed based on these results. So a colonoscopy was scheduled 3 days later.
downloadIt’s important for you to understand how much I love food. I would say CrossFit has made this worse. When I get hungry or get that hollow stomach feeling, I get what I call the hungry panic. So you can only imagine how miserable I was during the pre colonoscopy liquid diet… it was AWFUL!! I loved getting my wisdom teeth out, that kind of diet is my jam! Jello, ice cream, chocolate pudding, smoothies, send it my way. But a clear liquid diet?! Almost as bad a the dread “colonoscopy prep”. I decided to go to work, per usual, staying home would just drive me crazy. At least if I’m seeing patients I’m distracted. I was counting on free jello and sympathetic coworkers. I wasn’t counting on the cafeteria to be out of jello. Instead I had to eat these citrus flavored gelatins they give to patients on a clear liquid diet. So by the time I got done with my work day I was low energy and definitely had the hungry panic. I had made myself a vat of lime jello the night before and thank God I did.  I ate half of it in 5 minutes. That helped but my stomach knew it was fake. I just wanted carbs, crackers, toast, anything. Instead I got to start drinking the “prep”.
For a colonoscopy you can’t have your intestines with any “stool” in there obstructing vision so they flush it out of you with medication. This medication comes in a gallon and you have to drink all of it, one cup at a time every 15 minutes. It’s best chilled and over ice. I discovered it was also preferred with ginger ale, like a bad cocktail. In fact, if I pretended I was back in college and needing to chug light beer it also made it more bearable.
The next morning I headed into my colonoscopy. Pretty uneventful. What wasn’t uneventful was WAKING UP IN THE MIDDLE OF MY COLONOSCOPY!!!
Here’s where you have to know that I am a Christian. But not a religious Christian. What’s the point of that? I believe in a relationship with the Creator of the universe that gives me hope that I am never alone and faith that I am deeply loved in the darkest dingiest corners of my heart and that most importantly, nothing in my life is too trivial to go unnoticed or too big to be unmanageable. (Run-on sentence much?) So I think I woke up in the middle of my colonoscopy and remembered it because of what I saw. It’s important to understand the set up of a colonoscopy. You lay on your side and the doctors and nurses and nurses are behind you with the screen projecting what the scope is seeing in front of them… also known as in front of my face. But I’m knocked out, “conscious sedation” they call it. Until I’m not. I have 3 thoughts as I wake up…

  1. “So this is what it feels like having a scope in my intestines.”
  2. I hear the word “mass” being discussed amongst the doctor and nurses, “Aww bummer.”
  3.  As I look at the screen in front of my face and see the tumor taking over my colon “Oh dear, that’s cancer.”

Then I’m somehow back asleep. When I wake up I laugh and tell the nurse about how I woke up and saw the mass but it must have been a weird dream. She’s very guarded in her response and just tells me that I should wait for the Doctor who will go over all the results with me. I was concerned that she didn’t laugh with me and dismiss it. “Oh shoot. It was true then,” I think. When the doctor does come in he’s also guarded, “Surprisingly, we found a mass. Based on the size and appearance I’m 99% sure it’s cancer. ” “Oh.”
I know that the only reason I believed him and was able to process what he said is because I had woken up and seen it with my own eyes. It’s beyond crazy that I woke up and beyond crazy that I remember it since one of the side effects of conscious sedation is amnesia. I’d say that’s a lot of coincidences to not be specifically designed for my benefit.
What’s even more strange is my disordinate amount of peace. How on earth do people who don’t know Jesus and believe that He can bring good out of even the most grueling situation and circumstances get through it!? I am actively choosing not to let my mind wander to “what-ifs” and places where fear rules the day. I am staying present and only taking on what I need to take on today.
imagesI get a CT scan tomorrow to make sure I don’t have more tumors and in 3 days I meet with a colo-rectal specialist. Then I will have a lot of my questions answered as far as recovery times, surgery recommendations and treatment.
I know this was long winded but it’s a lot to take in, a lot to process, and a lot of backstory. But this is only the beginning.