Y’all know I love “to-do” lists but I didn’t really have much a Resolution or To-Do list for 2015. I had lots of projects going on, and I didn’t feel inclined to make a formal list. The only goal I really had was to talk more about my cancer experience.
I continue to be surprised that I have Facebook friends (most of whom I know in real life) who did not know that I had ovarian cancer. In 2015 I made a goal to bring it up at least once a month on FB. I think I mostly reached that goal, and I have been pleased with the number of folks who have publicly or privately reached out to me to ask about my experience or ask how to be good friend to someone who is going through a similar battle. That was the whole idea, and now I’m putting it on the list again for 2016.
For those of you who don’t know my story, I will share a part of it with you here, to keep my outreach going.
In 2012, I quit grad school after one totally miserable semester of hell. Before the grad school stint I had a pretty great job in Missouri that I quit in order to come back to the east coast. When I left school I didn’t really have any immediate options, so at the age of 29 I ended up moving back to my mom’s house. It was one of those situations that we all know someone in, but having to actually do it is pretty miserable.
It was around March of that year when I got the weird gut. I have never had ab muscles, even as a track runner in my teens. It was weird, and I know that’s not a very good description, but I knew something didn’t feel right in my body. At the time I was going to the gym a fair amount, but I was also depressed and probably eating some of my emotions. The only other thing that seemed out of the ordinary was that I had to pee all the time. Like, at least 5 or 6 times a night. Several months later, one of my friends told me about a giant tumor in her lady parts that she was going to have to have removed.
As soon as she told me about her gut, how she felt like maybe she had just been drinking too much craft beer, eating too much icecream, how she had this strange hard feeling in her belly that just wan’t right…I knew. At the time I had just tapped out my savings account to pay for my last month of Cobra insurance, I had no primary care doctor, and I was working part time at a crappy bakery. The next morning I went to an urgent care clinic. It was the only thing I knew to do.
The urgent care people asked if maybe I thought I could be pregnant. That was a big fat nope. I can’t remember exactly but I think they did an x-ray. Something was definitely in there. One of the nurses knew someone at an OBGYN in town and got an appointment for me for a few days later. Urgent care sent me to get an ultrasound done. Whatever the weird gut was, it was the SIZE. OF. A. VOLLEY. BALL. The ultrasound folks sent me to get an MRI. The MRI showed it was some sort of a tumor.
As I sat in the waiting room of my third clinic of the day my brain felt like it was full of cotton. The noise around me sounded like watery bubbles, like I had pulled my head under the hot water in a bathtub. My mom was administering a test at an elementary school all day. I hadn’t even told her I was going to the doctor. The alone-ness that I felt was breath-taking. I texted a new friend of mine; a really nice guy who I knew was a strong faithful Catholic. I asked him to pray for me.
I think my mom met me at the last clinic, but I’m not really sure. What I do remember was getting back home and looking out the window in my mom’s living room and thinking, “There is no way I can die from this. It would kill my mother.”
It would be another two days until the OBGYN would tell me that there was in fact, a giant tumor on my left ovary and that it needed to come out. The surgery could be laparoscopically performed and my appointment was a week later, just days after my 30th birthday.
AUTHORS NOTE: I gotta tell y’all, just writing this much of the story was hard. Really hard. But also cathartic. Ever since this part of my life began, I’ve felt like I should write about it. But who on earth wants to write about something so miserable? I’m going to chip away at more of it bit by bit. I have no idea how quickly the other segments will come, I’m just going to play it by ear. That said, if you have any questions about anything, PLEASE ASK ME! I am an open book, and I hope that some of what I write will help other folks. ❤