As you may know, September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Jenny and I have written before about why this is an important cause for our family – we lost my mom to the disease nearly 25 years ago. The cause took on another meaning for us at the beginning of this year, though, when our friend Elizabeth was diagnosed. We’re honored to have Elizabeth as a guest poster today, to share the journey she is on. I find her incredibly inspiring, and I know you will too.
When I started blogging four years ago, I never dreamt I’d be a *guest blogger* some day. We were beginning the process of adopting our son from China and I figured blogging would be a great way to keep family, and a few friends, in the loop. Mostly because I’m lazy and didn’t feel like giving updates fifteen different times. So my blog, EEK… I have a blog, was born. (EEK are my initials. I thought it was terribly creative at the time. Now I wish I could have a re-do.)
What started as an *adoption blog* became a pretty typical mommy blog. It morphed into a grief blog as I lost my mom fifteen months ago. And then in January, it turned into something I NEVER wanted it to be… a coping with Cancer blog. And here I am today, a *guest blogger* because I am currently surviving Ovarian Cancer.
Last winter I went to visit my family doctor because of some crazy bloating (lovely, I know). I’m talking; the* I looked pregnant* kind of bloating. I no sooner had the word *bloated* out of my mouth and my doc had a diagnosis out of his mouth, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. We had a good chuckle over this *old lady diagnosis.*
He asked if I was stressed. Three kids four and under, the holiday season and the recent death of my mother. Stress? Check! Drink more water, exercise and take fiber pills. If it didn’t get better, I was to see him again after the New Year.
Over Christmas I gained 10 lbs in two weeks. I was a faithful attendee of Weight Watcher meetings and knew FOR SURE I wasn’t simply overdoing it on the cookies. When I went back he gave me a lecture about changing metabolisms; blah blah blah. I was irritated but thankful when he sent me for a CT scan. His nurse called me the evening of my scan. The doc wanted to see me the next morning. She had no other information. I was smart enough to know that when a doc wants to see you immediately, it is NOT good news.
The events of the next week are a complete blur and yet deeply etched in my mind’s eye. “The good news is all of your major organs look good. Blood work shows healthy function of all of them. BUT there are some masses on your ovaries that I am very concerned about. I’m not going to use the *C* word, but I am going to set you up with a really great oncologist.”
That was Tuesday, by Friday morning; I was on the operating table with a full hysterectomy and a diagnosis of Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. They would give me a few weeks to recover from surgery, which also included the removal of a small part of my intestines and a fatty flap (which has a fancy name that I can’t remember) in my abdomen, and then I would begin six rounds of intense chemotherapy.
The questions, the fears, the anger, the despair that followed were intense. What would we do with our three kids during intense chemo? Would I survive this? What would I look like bald? What if I couldn’t tolerate the chemo? What if it didn’t work? I had panic attacks. I couldn’t sleep at night. I cried a lot.
Yet in the midst of it all, what held me up, what got me through was/is my faith that God is in control. He provided so many things in that season. In fact, He used many of YOU to do so. Mommin’ It Up and several other bloggy friends held a fund raiser so that we could afford to hire a part time nanny to help us out. Without her help (and those of you who gave) I honestly don’t know what we would have done.
Chemo was a rough road. Being bald is no fun. Not having energy to do the things as a mommy I normally do was humbling. Asking for help is NOT my strong suit, but I learned how to do so quickly. My kids are comfortable with the word Cancer. They are sensitive to people who are different. Cancer is not a death sentence at our house. They know how to pray. They see that God is a healer and a comforter.
Friends, true friends, are those who sit with you during chemo. They pray for you, non-stop. They make you meals. They take your kids. They do fund raisers for you. They send money when they don’t know you just because they can imagine what it would be like to be in your shoes.
I had a CT scan two weeks ago and have once again been declared Cancer-free. I am thankful for that.
My hair is growing back. My energy is 100%. In most ways, life has returned to normal. I’m still trying to figure out what Cancer has/is teaching me. What it’s teaching our family. What it might want to teach you. Honestly, I don’t know. I do know that God is going to use it. I just don’t want to miss it.