I remember waking up from surgery on July 29th, 2005 to the words " You have stage 3B ovarian cancer". And then the words," I will do everything to make you well".
My life changed with those few words in so many ways. If you have followed this blog since 2007 you know that it hasn't always been easy. But I have made it through with the help of my outstanding physicians and nurses at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the help of my best friend and husband Nick, the support of my children and their spouses, the love of my grandsons, supportive family and some of the best friends anyone could ask for.
Have there been side effects? Sure. Do I still have neuropathy in my toes? Yes. Do I still experience chemobrain? Yes. If I am multi-tasking my word recall diminishes dramatically which at times could lead to a few good laughs. Have I had some really stressful times? Absolutely. To this day, about a week before my scans and blood work, until I hear my test results, my anxiety level goes through the roof. Does my mind still go to cancer whenever I have an ache or pain? Honestly, even now, yes it does. Does it stay there for long? Usually not.
But most of the time I am having fun living my life and trying new experiences. How can cancer bring you good things you ask? For me, having an ovarian cancer diagnosis lead me to become an ovarian cancer research advocate. I have been able to take part in projects to increase cancer research funding. I've attended medical conferences as a voice for ovarian cancer patients. I have traveled to Chicago, Maryland, Washington, DC and Lisbon. I've been a panel member for three ASCO Guidelines, and co-authored a book and journal articles. ( And another one is in the works.) And I have met so many amazing patients, physicians, researchers and writers along the way.
And these extra years have let to new experiences too. There have been weddings, graduations, births and trips to some spots on my bucket list. I started painting when I was in chemotherapy and I continue to find it a very calming activity. I paint mostly animals - dogs usually but a few cats and birds too. And I love painting quilts ( I'm not so good at sewing quilts but love the symmetry in the designs. ) After my recurrence, I learned how to do agility with my dog, Amber. I'm not fast - Amber is- but I love spending time with Amber and being around people who love their dogs.
So thanks for taking this journey with me. And now a special shout out to Dr Lorna Rodriguez and Dr Darlene Gibbon. My life savers for making this all possible.
Every Day is a Blessing
I didn't realize it'd been 13 years! I like the second half of those words that were said to you when you woke up from surgery. I wonder how many doctors say something like that.
Thank you for all you, Dee. You're amazing.
Keep on keepin' on!
Dee, I am a few days late in responding, but CONGRATULATIONS on your survivorship. I am so very happy for you.
And, it has been nice to meet you face to face! Hope to see you again soon.
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