I’m two years out and NED (no evidence of disease). I am finally feeling like I’m back, strength-wise, to where I was before treating. Positivity is my mantra. I choose to see my diagnosis and treatment as an event and not a lifestyle. Could it come back? Sure. But I’m not going to sit on the sidelines and wait for it. Life goes on and I’m going with it!
Labor Day weekend 2016 I got severe stomach cramps. I went in and got a CT with contrast. They called me the next morning with the news: Ovarian Cancer. (Interestingly, I never had any other of the “classic” symptoms.)
I believe that people need to be fully involved in their medical care and not be a passive observer so I went after this. I met with a surgeon the next day. She told me I was stage IV and gave me the non-favorable statistics for remission. I told her someone had to be in the remission group and it might as well be me.
I next met with the oncologists and after discussion (and a second opinion) I started with nine weeks of chemo (carboplatin and taxol) then “debulking“ surgery (who thinks up those names?) followed by another nine weeks of chemo. I had nausea and an allergy to the chemo, so I was filled with Benadryl, steroids and anti-nausea drugs. The chemo staff was a wealth of knowledge and were really helpful in dealing with side effects.
I naively thought that since I was in good shape, surgery would not be difficult and recovery would be quick. Wrong. I don’t care who you are; it gets your attention.
While treating, I gave myself permission to do what I needed to take care of myself. That included:
(1) Asking my daughter to help manage my healthcare. She participated in every doctor visit, either in person or conference call, to help keep track of what was going on. Chemo brain is real; she helped me analyze information and make important decisions. Her support was invaluable.
(2) Keeping my inner circle to those people who would support me, without my needing to take care of their emotions and listen to cancer stories (or the latest miracle cure they’d read about on the internet). If I didn’t want to talk to or deal with someone, I didn’t.
(3) Keeping a Caring Bridge site and updating it at least weekly with progress, realities of treatment, and little wins. I only allowed access to a select group with whom I was OK seeing my thoughts. It was a great way to journal progress, occasionally vent, and share humor. The positive comments I got back really buoyed my spirits.
(4) If I was having a tired day, I took the day off. I bought myself an ugly recliner, put it in my living room and watched TV. Mindless but needed.
(5) Continuation of exercising. My intensity level was modified, and I did a lot of walking with my walking buddy. It helped my energy level.
(6) I got a nice wig and made sure that when I went out I was made up and looking my best. It was much easier for me to maintain a good attitude, and for my kids to not worry as much, when I looked the part.
It’s a tough row to hoe and treatment isn’t fun. Do what you need to do so you can get on with living!
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