Monday, July 24, 2017

That Feeling You Get When You Hear the Word Cancer

The other day, a women in one of the ovarian cancer Facebook groups, asked the group "How did you feel when you heard the words - You have Cancer?".

As I approach my "cancerversary" I thought I would share how I felt when I heard those words.

I had been referred to a Gynecologic Oncologist after I told my gyncecologist at my annual visit about pain in my left abdomen and an MRI showed my ovaries were enlarged. I was just shy of my 50th birthday and I thought at the time perimenopausal. 

Leading up to my gyn onc's recommendation that I have surgery we talked about what could be causing the enlarged ovaries. Yes, she did tell me about the possibility of it being ovarian cancer but at the time I thought if I would get a cancer it would be breast cancer. My sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the the late 1980's. At the time I didn't know about the BRCA mutation connection between breast and ovarian cancer or much about ovarian cancer at all. But I did have a family  history of cancer.  My mother, father, aunt, and uncles in addition to my sister had received a cancer diagnosis. So it  made sense that I could have cancer. Yet somehow at the time I thought that this was NOT going to be my diagnosis.  Or maybe I didn't want to think about having to deal with the treatments that would certainly follow my surgery.

When I woke up from surgery and heard the words you have Stage 3 ovarian cancer I said "OK" and then I told my gyn-onc that I didn't want my treatments to disrupt my family's life. I wanted them to continue with their lives - school, hobbies, work. That was the first thing I thought of. Maybe it was the anesthesia that numbed me to what I had just heard. When I got transferred from recovery to a hospital room and my family had all gone home for the night that is when it hit me.

Oh my God, I have CANCER!

I was laying down in bed at the time, still pretty drugged up and not really able to move much at all.  I felt a strange sensation of my legs feeling weak. I don't know if I would have actually collapsed if I had been standing since I have only felt it when I was already sitting or laying down. I was always alone and it was late at night. I felt it when I let my mind wander to that space where I considered that this cancer would kill me. I have described it to others as my Weak in the Knee reaction.

There was so much I didn't want to miss and so many things I needed to do and experience. I wouldn't be there when my children married.I wouldn't see my son graduate college.  I wouldn't meet my grandkids. I wouldn't visit all 50 states.(I had 21 more states to visit at the time.)I'd never get to visit Australia or Europe.  I wouldn't be doing any of this. Then I thought of my family. What would it be like for my husband and children? Emotionally, I was despondent.

While I can remember how I felt, it is hard for me to remember how I was able to recover from the Weak in the Knee feeling or what prompted me to become more hopeful. I know I began using a mantra to stay calm during all those medical scans but I don't recall when I started using it. Maybe the sun came up.  And with the start of a new day, I became hopeful.

If you were diagnosed with cancer, how did you feel? Physically? Emotionally?

I will sign off as I always do, 

Every Day is a Blessing!

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