John Lennon said “Life happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” Well, that saying was true for me. On November 1st, 2018, my life changed, forever. That’s the day I found out I had possible ovarian cancer. To say that I was in shock was an understatement. How was this possible? I don’t have any of the risk factors nor is it genetic in my family. How could I, a healthy woman of 56 years, possibly have ovarian cancer? Yet, those were the very questions that plagued my every waking moment since that day. My life as I knew it, was never going to be the same.
For those of you who don’t know too much about ovarian cancer it’s because it’s the deadliest of all gynecological cancers. Only 20% of women diagnosed, are diagnosed at an early stage; early enough to have hope. There are a few different types of ovarian cancer and there is no detection and women generally have no symptoms at all until it’s too late.
The days and weeks following Nov 1st were filled with medical appointments, tests, procedures, waiting, wondering, hoping and crying. On Dec 3 I had my first surgery, which went very well. Although the cyst was quite large, my doctor felt the tumor was benign. I recovered well and quickly but endured more waiting as nothing could confirm or deny the results for sure other than the pathology report. That came on Dec 21. I felt great and was hopeful that I did not have cancer, especially since my doctor felt the same way. Unfortunately, that was not the case and the report confirmed I in fact, did have ovarian cancer. Needless to say, my Christmas holiday was not bright.
Another world win of activity, anxiety, and waiting. I was
being referred to an oncologist but because of the holidays, I had to wait,
again. Luckily, I was contacted right away and received an appointment on Jan
7. The news was hopeful. I was diagnosed with Grade 1 ovarian cancer and the
type that has a very optimistic prognosis. And while the doctors felt the
cancer did not spread and was contained in the cyst, the only way to know for
sure was to have another surgery – a surgical staging, which is performed to
confirm the stage of the cancer and to know with certainty, if it has spread.
This time, I did not have to wait long as the surgery was scheduled for a week
later on Jan 15.
I was nervous, having 2 surgeries within 6 weeks of each other is quite taxing on the body. But my only other option was to wait until the end of Feb and I did not want to go through that period of waiting and wondering any longer than I had to. Surgery was done on Jan 15 and although it took longer than expected (5.5 hours), it went well. Recovery started once more only this time; things didn’t go smoothly. 5 days after surgery, I developed complications which after 2 visits to 2 different local emergency departments, I finally had an appointment with my oncologist who admitted me to the hospital. I spent a week in recovery there followed by more recovery at home with more procedures, set backs, waiting, pain and more tears. While I learned I was cancer-free, yay!!, I couldn’t really enjoy or comprehend the diagnosis due to the extreme pain and discomfort I was experiencing from the complications.
On Feb 27, I finally had the last procedure performed and have been physically healing ever since. I’m happy to say I am strong once again. And since I didn’t need any chemo or radiation treatment, the physical recovery has come quickly; the mental, spiritual and emotional healing, has been a much longer process.
For those of you who have been reading my blogs for a while, you may have noticed I haven’t written anything since late last year. Now you know why. I love writing though and have found much healing through journaling. While I’ve had a lot to say, I also didn’t know what to say publicly, until now. I realize there is a lot of value in sharing my story. Not only is it helpful to me and my continued healing journey, I’m hopeful it will be helpful to you, the readers, as well. I’ve learned so much about cancer and myself throughout this whole process and I’m hoping it will serve you in whatever way you need most.
There’s a saying that goes, “Gaining knowledge is the first step to wisdom, sharing it is the first step to humanity.” Whether you have experienced cancer personally or know someone who has had cancer, my hope is to inspire, inform, educate and motivate for overcoming any ordeal. I believe, and know first hand, that a sense of belonging and being surrounded by love gives us hope and strength to outlast the toughest challenge, no matter what that may be. I am forever grateful to my family and close friends who were there for me every step of the way.
I hope you continue to read my blogs, follow my journey and share in my learnings.
Until next time.