In 2018, I was 58 years old and newly married. I was living my best life–in great shape, seemingly healthy and over the moon happy with my new husband and the direction my life was heading.
Seven weeks after our wedding, I went into my doctor’s office for a reoccurring “yeast infection” and some discomfort with sex (which I thought was somewhat common for post-menopausal women). I had previously experienced a series of bladder infections and urinary tract infections, too. When my doctor performed an exam, she pushed on my lower abs and said, “What’s this?” She mentioned it could be many things and scheduled an ultrasound.
During the ultrasound, I knew there was something wrong. The procedure took a long time, and the doctor ended up sending me for a CT scan. That night, my doctor called and said there was a large mass near my ovaries. I had cancer. We were devastated. I was sure I would be dead by morning. My doctor was amazing and supportive. She was there to help us through.
I had surgery within seven days of diagnosis. I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. I was introduced to MOCA in the hospital following my surgery. I was thankful for the resource to use when I was ready.
Chemotherapy is something that really scared me. When we arrived to start chemo, we met with the nurse who went over all the risks and potential issues. After that meeting, I fell apart. It was just too much to handle. With the help of my husband, I “pulled it together.”
The chemo suite was staffed with very professional, compassionate people. I was scheduled to receive a treatment every week for 16 weeks. I had a severe reaction to the first drug. It was very scary, but the nurses handled the reaction within seconds. Once through it, they needed to try the drug again. I had a reaction again, albeit not as intense. After that, they switched my medication. The rest of my treatments went well.
After my first three treatments, my white blood cells were not “coming back” as quickly as needed. The team changed the frequency of treatment to every three weeks. This allowed my body time to heal. I was given a medication to help the white blood cells return.
I was only out of commission one week out of the three after chemo. I had extreme fatigue on days three-five, and then I would start to feel better. I took medication to handle nausea, which I never really had. I did notice my bones were aching. A nurse suggested taking Claritin to fight the aches, and it worked for me.
Cancer has had a significant impact on my family. They were scared and shocked. In the end, we are closer and grateful for what we have. I am so thankful for my husband who continues to be by my side for this journey. Fear of recurrence comes and goes, and I’ve found positive self-talk helps a lot.
My friend, a breast cancer survivor, told me three things for which I am forever grateful:
- Cancer is not a death sentence.
- Chemotherapy is not the worst thing she’d experienced in her life.
- Do not get caught up in the highs and lows of cancer. Process them all with a level head.
I am happy to say I am 21 months in remission.
The information enclosed in Survivor Stories should not be considered a substitute for the opinion of a qualified health care provider. MOCA does not recommend or guarantee any product mentioned. Please use this information to assist you in obtaining further information and in making your own health care decisions.