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An ovarian cancer survivor shares that although she’s been frustrated and mad about a recent recurrence in her lymph nodes, she still celebrates the life that she’s been blessed with.
It is time to tell my story. It will not be in the order of my life events, as today I want to write down the feelings that I have going on this moment.
I am sad, frustrated, even mad and yet, I am resolved to once again, step up to the plate and give it my best to get well. I do not want this piece to be a negative read yet these feelings are what we as cancer survivors deal with daily.
I was originally diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January 2013. Since then, I have had three major surgeries and received chemotherapy after each surgery. I lost my hair after the first round.
In October 2020, several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, I had a recurrence in my lymph nodes. No surgery this time as we tried stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) in November. Recently, I had my follow-up PET scan to see how well the radiation worked. It worked! But it showed three more new spots.
So, what am I feeling? I remain positive because I feel I have the best care in the world. I have physicians and support staff who know my name and have vowed to take great care of me. We are trying to come up with a plan to contain the spread and now we are just waiting.
I also feel a bit frustrated that it once again has reared its ugly head. I am trying my best, and succeeding, to acknowledge that this bump in the road will be taken care of with great medicine and care from my support people.
I am sure that many patients with cancer at some time question, “Why me?” I also fit into that category. The answer: No one knows.
My mother had a rare kind of cancer back in the 80’s. The physicians called it fallopian tube cancer and that her case was so rare because it was caught early, that she made a medical journal. Her prognosis was not known because doctors had not ever caught it that early. After one round of horrible chemotherapy (9 months), she never had a recurrence of the cancer. My gynecologist was made aware of her diagnosis every year that I saw her and after about 20 years, the research confirmed that my mother probably had ovarian cancer. She was lucky it was found so early.
My situation was different as mine was found with tumors in my abdomen. My surgery removed everything, and I was told it was stage 1. Yes, I lost my hair, had to take time from my new job, and I survived until 1.5 years later, another tumor showed up and I was having surgery once again. I took a year off from work and then retired.
In November 2017, it came back again. Now it was showing up in my lymphatic system. Good news: The lymph nodes were doing their job! Bad news: The location of the nodes made my surgery difficult – 9 hours long, but I was clean once again. The waiting was difficult as the cancer was detected in November and surgery was not scheduled until February. It spread to two more lymph nodes in that time.
This brings me to what I am feeling today. It is the waiting that is hard. Waiting for the test, the results, the discussion of the plan, the insurance delays. When you get a cancer diagnosis, you do not want to wait for anything. You want to get on living and living your best life.
What am I feeling today? I am feeling blessed. I have a wonderful husband who has been with me on this journey the whole way. I have a fantastic family who have traveled from far distances to be with their mom. I have dear friends who have walked next to me at all my doctor’s appointments, brought food and books, grabbed me to go to dinner, have joined me in a glass of wine. I am blessed.
Cancer is not fun. I buried my husband who died from prostate cancer. I moved on and found a wonderful man who has been by my side. I have the best girlfriends who are there for me. I have excellent physicians, nurses, and pharmacy staff that I have on speed dial!
It is important to say that cancer survivors and patients have down days, but we can also have good ones. Putting my words on paper has helped. I want to give back. Maybe someone will read my story and want to know more. I am thinking about a blog and will pursue that in the future.
As I pull up my bootstraps one more time, I celebrate the life that I am blessed to have with support from the people on this journey that is life-giving. There is hope every day. I am living proof of it.
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