Life changing path

AKA bumps in the road

In December of 2020 I was diagnosed with Gist cancer. And just like that everything changed. It has tested my lifestyle, relationships, and patience. It’s a big deal that I am trying to pretend is not a big deal.

Wait, what is GIST you ask? A GIST (pronounced “jist”) is an uncommon type of cancer that starts in the digestive tract. Gist is rare and it’s not clear what causes it. 

How the heck did that happen or How did I find out about it?

Well now basically it went like this….I was tired, like super tired and I had a loss of appetite, that’s it. It was like a really bad cold, without the cold parts. I laid around for over a week barely getting out of bed. Turns out some people with GISTs feel tired because they’ve lost blood from the tumor. Being that this was the era of Covid I went to the hospital for a test. The ridiculous part of that was that I drove myself (15 miles) even though I could barely walk to the car. Hindsight being 20/20 that was not smart, especially since I promptly passed out in the parking lot as soon as I arrived. But on the upside it was the hospital parking lot. I can’t say enough good things about Tahoe Forest Hospital. They quickly determined it was not Covid but I was losing blood and needed blood and a host of tests!

Since no one knew what was going on I had an upper endoscopy AND a colonoscopy. Samples were taken from the abnormal area for a biopsy.

Waiting for the results wasn’t as bad as hearing the results. I’ll never forget sitting on my bed when the doctor called, all I heard was cancer……blah, blah, blah. 

It turned out to be a resectable tumor (one that could be removed safely with surgery)…it was recommended I do it soon…so I had surgery January 11, 2020. 

Woah, that was huh? I know right. Pretty much most of December, January and half of February was a blur. Jason was a sweetheart, dropped everything and drove my whiney butt across the country to Michigan; immediately following the

diagnosis.  I had to be near my family and Karmanos Cancer Center got me in lickitty split. Things went sideways in my 2nd surgery. I can’t really get into that right now, but I was in the hospital for a month, that sucked. Full disclosure: I don’t remember most of it. Actually I don’t remember much at all from the end of December to February. Seriously nothing and yes it is way weird.

My simple surgery got complicated. The tumor was sizable and to get it all they had to slice me open and take part of my tummy too. So I’m all better now. Ok not really. I have a host of issues, physical and mental.

This is not a path I saw me going down, basically I’m bushwhacking at this point.It’s been emotionally stressing (it can be when the rug is pulled from underneath you). While everything is up in the air I am scrambling to take care of my mind and body. Dealing with it…….changes.

4 thoughts on “Life changing path

  1. Dear Elyse,
    I hope you have turned the corner and are feeling a bit better, although I know that cancer is a long slog .”Bumps in the Road” is an understatement!.
    Thank you for letting us all known what has been happening with you these last 7 months.- Your bushwacking analogy- slogging thru the unknown with hope of getting to the clearer horizon
    It’s a different kind of perseverance from long distance hiking, but from what we know of you,,, we will surely see you again- on the trail, or at the post-covid ALDHA-W gathering…
    We sent our love and support.
    Nolina and nobody
    aka marsha and mori

  2. Elyse,
    Very sorry to read of your cancer diagnosis but sounds like you are on the mend now. Given time I bet you’ll be camping and skiing in no time.
    I think your experience has kicked me in the ass to get a colonoscopy.
    Now its blah blah blah. Take care.


  3. Elyse, I just learned about your GIST I’m also a Gist patient I knew about your hiking accomplishments! I’m trying to get back into backpacking did 80 miles on Isle Royale I want to get out on SHT next summer .Do you have any advice on resupply on your meds. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.


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