This is a story from my friend, Stacy Hudson of her journey to wellness.
My name is Stacey Hudson, and I want to share my story with you. I pray you see God throughout this journey.
It all started in 2015 when my husband felt a small nodule on the outside of my lower left leg. It didn’t hurt and wasn’t visible, so I didn’t think much of it. A short time later, a second nodule appeared with some aching, so to the doctor, I went. The doctor did an ultrasound and said it was not anything serious and he could remove via an outpatient procedure. In July of 2015, I had it removed, and on Aug. 3rd, I received a phone call where I was told the pathology report came back, you have Undifferentiated Pleomorphic High-Grade Sarcoma. I had no idea what that meant. As I waited for my doctor’s appointment, I did my own research and realized I had CANCER. I spoke with local doctors, and because this is a rare form of cancer, I chose to go to Duke because they have a team that specializes in sarcoma. I did radiation locally and had a lengthy surgery at Duke in Nov of 2015, where they cut a section of my outer leg and did a skin graft. All went well, and my leg healed.
While traveling back and forth to Duke for check-ups, I became friends with an employee of a Chick-fil-A in Cary, NC. The first time my family and I went in to eat, this lady immediately asked me what had happened because of my bandages and crutches. This was definitely God-sent because we became friends instantly and would catch up every three months as I was traveling through. To this date, we are still friends and have stayed in touch. One of many who have and do pray for me. Also, the NP and I became friends during this five-year time frame from my many check-ups and contacts with wound healing. This person is another God-sent on my journey that was put in place by Him to be there for me, to answer my questions, to make me feel important as a patient, and to show me God’s love. I continued getting check-ups at Duke, and approximately two months prior to my 5-year mark, I felt a lump within the same area of my previous surgery. I called the doctor and was immediately brought in for an MRI and biopsy. It was confirmed that my cancer had returned. I started radiation at Duke in Nov. of 2020, and surgery was scheduled for Jan. of 2021. The surgery was done, and two weeks later, the doctor called and said we didn’t get clear margins; you need more surgery, so back to Duke, I went with another surgery approximately two weeks later. Because of Covid, no one could go into the surgery prepping the area with me, but prior to the second surgery, when the doctor came in to see you, I asked if he would pray with me before he left. Although he agreed, he didn’t say anything, but I was able to get a few words out as I asked God to guide his hands and eyes to see what he needed to see. God answered that prayer because he got clear margins during that surgery. I lost part of the outer section of my lower leg, I had a very weak ankle, etc., but things were going as expected with this type of surgery. I started check-ups in May of 2021 with a chest X-ray and no MRI because the wound on my leg split back open after surgery, and I had to pack it while it healed from the inside out. The chest X-ray was clear, and I was scheduled for my next three-month check-up for Xray and MRI in August. When I went back in August, I completed the test and waited in the room for the doctor. When he came in, he said my leg looked fine, but the chest x-ray showed something very concerning. I was sent back upstairs to get a CT to confirm what they were seeing. When I heard this news, I couldn’t believe it. I was thinking this must be a shadow, scaring, or something this cancer can’t be back. It metastasized to my lungs was thought of as a bad diagnosis. It was quickly confirmed that my cancer had, in fact, metastasized to my lungs, the words I never wanted to hear. As I sat listening to the new doctor (this wasn’t the area of expertise with my ortho oncologist), I felt like I was listening to someone else’s story. My thoughts were, “this can’t be my scans .”I was just here three months ago, and you said there was nothing. I was so overwhelmed. I had several nodules in my lungs; 2 of them were larger than the others. Unfortunately, my thoughts, after the initial shock, were “What did I do wrong ?” I didn’t want to go home. I really didn’t want to face anyone and talk about it anymore, but just as before, God was with me, holding me when I didn’t know what to do, and the support started rushing in. First family, then friends. God always knows that when we face trials, we need help, and he is always there. I have so many people praying for me. I have family and friends that check on me and send me texts daily. There are people praying for me that I don’t even know. I pray daily for God to show me how I can help others get through and/or overcome whatever struggle they are facing. I know there is a reason for this particular part of my journey, and I pray that whatever I say and do is pleasing to him.
The first treatment I started was chemo. The chemo is nicknamed the Red Devil because it is the harshest chemo and can only be used six times. After the first treatment, I was blessed that I didn’t get crazy sick. I was very fatigued, had headaches, no energy, and felt like I had the bad flu but blessed just the same. Prior to my second treatment, I started losing my hair and decided it was best to shave my head. I think my hair-dresser (a long-time friend) became more emotional than I did. I got through the first three treatments before getting new scans. The new scans revealed that the smaller nodules got smaller, but the larger 2 got larger. At this point, it was time to reassess and make a new plan. I was eligible to participate in an immunotherapy trial for my specific type of cancer. To let you know that God was working, Duke was given eight slots, and I would be #7 if accepted. Once all the documents were complete, I was accepted. I would be receiving Cohort A, which was just the injection of Envafolimab once every three weeks. A few days after the first treatment, I had pain, fatigue, and weakness that was off and on for several days but otherwise couldn’t complain. I also developed a cough (coughing up blood) that is not going away.
I am waiting for my next visit on Jan. 5th to get an update as to what is going on. Our prayer is that God is going to heal these lungs. Unfortunately the immunotherapy is not working 2 tumors doubled in size. We stopped that immunotherapy and the doctor decided to do radiation on these 2 big tumors. That last 3 weeks go 5 days a week. They could do more because of where the tumors were located in my lungs. We waited 2 months and rescanned and it showed that these tumors did a shrink a little bit and the doctors said that radiation can continue to work for a while. With that said he saw smaller new places in my lungs to small to verify what they are so it would be rescan in six weeks. Unfortunately right before I went in for these scans a place appeared in the back of my upper left thigh. The doctor was hoping it was not cancer, but when I can back the next week and did and MRI the results were cancer. Instead of being able to watch for six weeks I had to start another type of chemo. This time it was Gemcitabine one week, the next week they combined Docetaxel and the following week they would check blood work only. I did that for 2 cycles and my leg produced a skin irritation and swelling so they decided to do scans early. When they did the scans on May 31st they showed that the small tumors in my lungs were a little bigger as well as the one in my leg. The next step is the try a treatment that consist of 4 pills that are not chemo but are suppose to attack the cancer cells. I will start that in approximately 2 weeks.
It is so amazing how many people are praying for me. There are people that I don’t know because they are either friends of a family member or a friend and those individuals tell others, and they have added me to their prayers. I have made new friends during this time that God put in my path just at the right time. I have children that have and are continuing to pray for me because of a sweet new friend. God is good, and he always knows what we need and when we need it. He never said life would be easy. He just promised to be there with us. One story I would like to share that happen when I was waiting for my most recent test was this very nice lady that walked over to me and knelt down in front of my and started telling me that she had battle cancer a while back. It was extremely tough and she got extremely ill to the point that she ask God to just take her. At that point she told me that I just wanted to come over and tell you that it is going to be ok. She didn’t ask me any questions as to what I was going through just that I would be ok. God puts people in the right place at the right time and I am so blessed that she was obedient.
I pray that God will lead me to help others just at the right time, and I also that anyone faced with a diagnosis of cancer will see that cancer is not the big “c”; Christ is.
Before I close, I want to share some of the Bible verses that I read only on a daily basis:
- Psalm 121; Psalm 112:7
- Isaiah 6:8; Isaiah 41:13 and 55:8-9
- Romans 8:26 & 28
- Proverbs 3:5-6
- Ephesians 6: 10-18
- 1 Peter 5:7
- Philippians 4:13
I also wrote down a couple of quotes that I have heard or seen while going through this 3rd round of cancer:
- “DON’T LET FEAR OVERWHELM ME; DON’T DWELL ON THE “WHAT IFS” COUNT ON GOD’S” CHARACTER AND PROMISES.”
- “GOD GIVES THE STRONGEST SOLDIER’S THE TOUGHEST BATTLES.”
- “IF THE ENEMY IS COMING AFTER ME LIKE THIS, THEN GOD IS DOING AMAZING THINGS.”
I pray that these quotes and Bible verses will make your day a little easier.