No I don’t mean the other “c” word, although I’ve no doubt that someone has directed that one towards me at one point in my life. I’m talking about the word that has the potential to turn your life around, even if it’s just because you googled Web MD about that funny mole you’ve had on your shoulder for awhile.
I had the unfortunate pleasure of hearing “cancer” directed at me in 2015. I had a severely large ovarian cyst that rapidly grew within weeks, causing me to look about 9 months pregnant. No word of a lie – check out the pic beside for reference. So after an ovary-removal surgery, I was informed that I had one remaining ovary and it should be “fine” because I’m young, and I have no history of cancer, especially ovarian. They sent off a part of the 36 cm cyst for a biopsy, and within a week it came back positive for cancer. However, it was at an early stage and level and would not require chemotheraphy, just 3 month assessments at the cancer clinic ward of the hospital. Not a huge deal right? Fast forward a job at a busy hair salon, and a real estate office to my current job as an account manager, and taking off a half-day of work.
I came by myself because these things were pretty routine by this point. I’d just have an ultrasound a few weeks prior, the doctor would tell me it’s all good, like maybe there’s a small cyst here but “nothing to worry about”. This time however, the waiting room they put me wasn’t a regular check-up room. It had comfy couches, a bookshelf, even some normal paintings on the wall…that’s when my alarm bells started sounding. The doctor came in and told me that even though there was about a 4% chance of this happening, they found another concerning shaped cyst in my remaining ovary. A hysterectomy would be required, and it should be booked pretty fast. He also told me I should go upstairs and get some bloodwork done before the clinic closes. I was pretty stunned at this point so I just went upstairs, sat down, and waited for the lab girl to call my name. I don’t remember much of the rest of this day.
A week or so goes by and because I’m in a relationship, I’ve already even met with the fertility specialist (highly recommended by my doc). She says that the egg retrieval would be a very unsafe risk, and she would highly not recommend to her closest friends or family. I appreciate that she tells me that information, and realize I have to come to terms with the fact that I can’t have my own biological children. I research adoption and surrogacy and believe I am finally at peace with this new change of plans. Surgery date approaches, and I’m told that because they are not aware of what is happening inside of me, the surgery is going to be very vague. I sign lots of forms because I may wake up with a bowel intrusion device. The surgery turns out to be longer than expected (my mom was freaking out), but I awake safe and sound after being cut open from my chest to my lower lady parts. It was quite the cut, ladies and gentlemen. I was given some happy drugs and spent Halloween at the hospital.
Biopsy from the surgery comes in a week after the surgery. I’m placed back in the comfy sofa room. Uh oh. The doctor walks in with my favourite nurse and all I can see is my dad’s face trying to be strong as he takes in all the doctor is telling us. Ovarian cancer….stage 2 so needs chemotherapy…should start as soon as possible…lymph nodes and abdominal wall are further along in stage…it became so real. When I had a moment alone, I took a picture of my face sitting in a room contemplating what this all means. Here it is below:
I’m glad I took it because I look back at it now and realize how much I’ve learned and grown. I’m definitely not the scared girl in the picture anymore, and my heart wants to explode with everything I’ve realized about myself over the past 4 months of therapy.