When my doctor called with the news, I was utterly beside myself. I was caught between reality—as I’d known it 30 seconds earlier—and a very vivid and realistic nightmare.
Not that I ever believed I was immune, but cancer was not something on my immediate radar. I get my blood checked regularly, have a slew of great doctors, do yoga like it’s about to disappear from the face of the earth and, generally, eat pretty darn healthy.
Again, with the awareness that I am no less susceptible than the next person, it would occasionally creep up into my thoughts, because, well, I am also aware that the Epstein Barr virus is related to certain cancers and other diseases, as is pernicious anemia, as is having a low immune system. In a nutshell, I was realistic when it came to potential disease.
I just didn’t think it would happen now.
I called my husband at work to let him know. My cries sounding somewhat operatic, I had difficulty catching my breath.
Following weeks and weeks of feeling bloated with no relief and an unusually long menstrual period, I marched over to my GYN’s office, without an appointment, to express my concerns. The doctor wasn’t in, but the nurse was very helpful in setting me up for a pelvic ultrasound the following week.
The test confirmed the presence of a large mass with signs of malignancy on my right ovary. The very next day, a pelvic exam was performed and blood was taken. The CA125 cancer indicator was elevated. My doctor was not surprised. Surgery would be needed as soon as possible.
The following Monday, I went for CAT scans of my chest and abdomen. The scans found coronary artery disease (something I’ll just have to worry about later), and confirmed what doctors had already suspected—an 80% chance of cancer.
Surgery will take place at Weill Cornell—one of the best hospitals in the world—on Wednesday, November 29th. I hear it’s a good date.
A gynecologist oncologist will perform the main surgery. Since the mass is so close to the intestines, a colorectal surgeon will be on call. A temporary ileostomy bag may be needed. If cancer is confirmed, a total hysterectomy will be performed, as well as a lymphadenectomy. A port will be inserted into my abdomen for chemo, which will commence the very next day.
Why am I sharing such personal details? Not only does sharing help us get the support we need, but—even more importantly—it makes us available to offer that same support to others who may be going through it—silently—right next to us.
I understand some of us are more private than others, and that’s okay, but for those of us who are not, it is our duty to share our stories so that not one of us would feel alone on this journey.
I firmly believe that the Universe has brought me here. Every detail, from where I live to the beautiful souls I’ve encountered in my life to those I have near and dear to me. Every single challenging circumstance, every loss, every single moment of strife, has prepared me for what I am about to conquer. I am grateful.
I’ve never had surgery in my life. I’m more anxious about that than anything else. Yet, my intuition—which I’ve worked really hard on honing over the years—tells me that all will go well.
And, once the doctors remove the years of emotional trauma that have manifested as a mass on my right ovary, I will experience a rebirth, if you will, so that I can truly live as I’ve always imagined.
Like my sisters before me—and beside me—I am a courageous warrior, a badass goddess, a survivor. And I am more than prepared to fight.
So, you may not hear from me for a while, but please don’t worry. I will be back.
Namaste out of your own way. Embrace life. Take chances. Drive with the top down. Listen to your body. Love and care for yourself. Love each other, don’t hate. And don’t be afraid to put up your dukes to whatever struggles you may be facing. You will only come out stronger in the end.
Sending much love to all of you.