I know it’s been a long time since my last post, but I promise you I have a great reason for my absence!
Around Thanksgiving, I was experiencing some bloating and a pretty severe pain in my lower right side so I went to an Urgent Care in my area to make sure my appendix wasn’t about to burst (Good news: it wasn’t). I was diagnosed with something not at all severe, given antibiotics, and sent home to recover. After a few days on the antibiotics, I felt great and resumed life as usual!
Fast forward to the beginning of July and I was experiencing the same bloating and pain, in the same place, so I went to Urgent Care to get the same antibiotics. They tested me for my previous ailment, but those results came back negative. After an X-Ray, they determined that I would be better off heading to the Emergency Room since there was nothing they could diagnose. Nine hours and several tests in the ER later, they found a very large mass attached to one of my ovaries. At that time, the attending doctor told me that it appeared to be cancer and that it “didn’t look good.”
I have to pause here and explain to you the disappointment I had with this doctor. In my nine hours there, I saw her for an approximate combined time of 30 minutes. When she delivered this news to me, she was very cold and she left the room immediately after. She didn’t give me a chance to ask any questions or ask for further direction. Luckily the nurse let me know that an OBGYN would be there shortly to discuss some of this in detail, but this person didn’t come for over an hour. For an entire hour, I was coming to grips with the fact that my life could be ending and praying that this whole thing was just a colossal mistake. I know it sounds dramatic, but I truly thought, based on the fact that she said “it doesn’t look good,” that I was terminally ill. I have never been so scared in my entire life.
About an hour later, the OBGYN came and explained to me that this mass on my ovary was incredibly large and had characteristics of a cancerous tumor, but they could not be sure until it was removed and sent to a pathologist. She explained that the mass would need to be removed surgically with, at minimum, one of my ovaries. If the tumor was cancerous, I would potentially lose my other ovary, my uterus, and go through chemotherapy after. Ovarian cancer in my age group is incredibly treatable and the survival rate is incredibly high, so even though I may not be able to have children, I would be alive. After this conversation with her, I had a renewed sense of hope. I was incredibly grateful that she was there to give me this information and that I didn’t have to go home feeling the way I felt after speaking to my first doctor.
So, I went home with an appointment to meet with another OBGYN so that they could refer me to a specialist. A couple of weeks and a lot of anxiety later, I finally met with the specialist. I cannot iterate enough how absolutely amazing he was. He was direct without being cold, he is one of the best in his field, and he gave me the best news possible; he didn’t think the tumor was cancerous. Of course he wouldn’t know until it was removed and sent to the pathologist, but he gave me even more hope.
About 3 days after my meeting with him, I went in for surgery to have the tumor removed. This is the first surgery I’ve ever had so, as someone who passes out when they have their blood drawn, I was incredibly nervous. I cannot sing enough praises about the people at my hospital, though. They were all extraordinarily kind, reassuring, and tolerant of my squeamishness. I have tiny veins, so unfortunately they did blow out a few of my veins in the process of trying to insert my IV, but that is my ONLY complaint. Everything else went beautifully. My surgery lasted only a few hours and I woke up to an army of my family there to support me-which is something I will never forget. The doctor explained that all of the testing they did on the tumor showed that it was just a borderline tumor-meaning it looked and acted like cancer, but was indeed NOT cancer!
I spent a few days in the hospital, but I went home an entirely new woman coming to grips with lots of changes. The tumor weighed 22 pounds, but I went home about 40 pounds lighter, I had a very large incision starting at my rib cage, going down the middle of my abdomen, and ending just below my pelvic bone so I had trouble doing anything but lying flat, I was missing an ovary and appendix, but the biggest change was in my mentality. I felt and continue to feel that I was given a second chance at life.
Everything about this experience pointed to me losing my life, but yet I’m still here. I’ve learned what is really important to me in this life and I’ve promised myself to always keep those things in sight. It’s so easy to get lost in the routine of your everyday life, but you have to remember that at any moment, everything can be taken from you. I promise to be thankful for each day I’m here. I promise that I won’t take advantage of the people who care for me and I promise to care for them just as much in return. I promise to preserve the meaningful moments and to forgive the unfortunate ones. I promise to do what makes me happy and to always do my best to make others happy as well. This life isn’t worth living if you’re not loving.