September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
There is so much more information available today for women to learn and be aware of the disease than back in 2005 when I was first diagnosed .Ovarian cancer organizations are doing awareness campaigns and raising funds for research this month and throughout the year. I makes me so happy to see graphics like these on social media. (NOCC, OCRA, Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation, Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance and Norma Leah Ovarian Cancer Initiative.
Don't get me wrong I am so happy there is a month to highlight Gynecologic Cancers and Ovarian Cancer in particular. But being a survivor during this month can be difficult. It brings a wide range of emotions from happiness to sadness to feelings of anxiety and gratefulness. It doesn't help that September is also the month for my annual visit to see my gyn onc.
It is a time where thoughts of my diagnosis, recurrence and treatments are front and center - every single day.
It brings back memories of what it felt like to hear I had stage 3 ovarian cancer. I remember the issues I had recovering from surgery, all the side effects from chemo and trying to find a new way to live as a cancer survivor. I think about feeling good about having a normal CA-125 yet finding out that a CT scan showed a recurrence. I think about the decision I made to do surgery first and then chemo when I recurred. I think about the time I spent in the hospital when I had a serious reaction to the Carboplatin I took during recurrence. I think about my feelings while in the hospital when I realized that I could no longer use a treatment that was the best for me.
I am sad when I think about women who lost their lives to ovarian cancer through these past 16 years as I continued moving forward:
Gail, Lois, Sandy, Grace, Erika, Pamela, Rita Kay, Carol, Jean, Janice, Terry W, Shari...
I think of the women I have spoken to as a peer to peer support person for Cancer Hope Network. There are some I no longer have to call or email. The connections are strong even if the only thing we had in common was our disease.
I think of my fellow survivors who deal every day with side effects from treatment and fear of recurrence. There are those who have had multiple recurrences and have had multiple different types of treatment We support each other because we "get it". Thank you to each and every one of them in my little network in NJ and online.
I am grateful for the gynecologic oncologists, nurse practitioners, social workers and pharmacist who treat women. And lastly I am grateful for all those researchers who chose to make their life's work understand how ovarian cancer develops and spreads and the best way to treat it.
So as I work through these feeling during this year's awareness month, I wish you good health.
Every Day is a blessing! I am blessed to have family by my side through it all.