Ovarian Cancer Survivor: What I’m thankful for in 2016 by Bikurgurl (BLW Contributor)

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I was diagnosed with an Ovarian Tumor in January 2015.

The diagnosis wasn’t a complete surprise, I’d been having menstrual issues — particularly extremely heavy bleeding and abnormally large clotting — for a couple of years which had took a dramatic turn in 2014, prompting me to stop putting off the doctors appointments and see the specialists. I had to put aside everyone else’s needs, and really my need to always put my family first. I had to make my health the most important goal for the spring and summer.

I had ultrasounds and the OBGYN determined I had a small growth on my right ovary. It wasn’t big and mostly likely, she determined, an ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts come and go and are generally functional cysts with little impact on overall health – however, they should be monitored by a doctor. I had them monitored.

My symptoms seemed to go away in the fall of 2014, so I decided to put off going for a quarterly check-up. Again. Even though I was having increased bleeding with large clots, back pain, and intense menstrual pains, I got through the summer and was enjoying a relatively normal menstrual cycle by October. With holidays around the corner, and being deep into our homeschooling fall schedule, I was reluctant to coordinate time with my husband to take time off of work to watch our boys, as we were so busy doing so many other things. However, my Gynecologist office continued to call and leave messages reminding me that I needed to come in for a follow-up appointment. I wasn’t worried. I’d gone once, I’d gotten the “no new is good news” speech. It seemed like an awful lot of trouble to coordinate scheduling with my husbands’ crazy work to make it to another invasive appointment when I’d just be told, “no news is good news”. That was, until, my doctor called me. She left a message and told me I really did need to come in before the end of the year as it’d been 6 months since my last appointment.

At that point I did take the time to schedule with my husband and went to see my doctor. After having another ultrasound, the technician went to get my doctor, she came in and looked – the cyst was much bigger. Incrementally bigger. Really, several times the size it was the last time I had come in. Although she still wasn’t convinced it was anything to be too alarmed about, she strongly recommended we go ahead and remove the cyst and analyze it. I was happy to hear it — and was ready then for a complete hysterectomy! No more menstruation? Perfect!

Of course, nothing is really that easy. The surgery revealed that the cyst was not a cyst – it was a cancerous tumor. An ovarian tumor. She removed my right ovary with the cyst because it was so entangled in the cyst/tumor matter. My doctor also took samples of the interior of my pelvic cavity — these samples revealed some additional abnormalities in cells. I was sent to a Oncologist who confirmed the finding and gave me 6 weeks to recover from my first surgery before having my second surgery. My Oncologist removed my remaining ovary, fallopian tubes, uterus, omentum, and a dozen or so lymph nodes.

Thankfully, the cancer had not spread past the tumor. I will be monitored for the next 5 years, every 6 months, with blood tests to confirm that the CA-125 marker (the Ovarian Cancer marker) is not present in my blood. In addition, because of my family history and genetic makeup, I am in the high risk category for breast cancer and am on a 6-month rotation of mammograms, alternating with Breast MRI’s (something insurance doesn’t like to cover unless you’re truly in the high risk category, and there is some risk of false positive – I’ll have my first one in early 2016).

This surgery, this inconvenience in menstruation, led to my ultimately finding out that I had cancer. I was blessed to have good doctors who helped me rid myself of it. This experience made me realize how lucky I am. I prayed for guidance and listened to my body. I am thankful for my family and friends who rallied for me, prayed for me, and helped me in the past year — helped my children, my husband; it was such a blessing.

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Who knows what’s around the next turn, I’m just grateful to be here!

 

Check out other great articles from Bikurgurl

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4 comments on “Ovarian Cancer Survivor: What I’m thankful for in 2016 by Bikurgurl (BLW Contributor)

  1. Great post! God is able!

  2. You are so damn lucky! Wish you a successful recovery…stay strong💗💗

  3. sarabeconroy says:

    Amazing post. All the best for you and your family this year.

  4. My mom has been battling ovarian cancer since 2011. Almost lost her several times, but she is staying strong. I believe whole heartedly in genetic testing. One of the most important things is early detection. I carry the brca2 gene, like my mom and will go through testing regularly. When I finally getting around to make those appointments. You are not alone in this!

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