‘People don’t know how the people who love them save their lives.’
It’s ovarian cancer awareness month.
I’ve been meaning to write a post about this. I kept putting it off. I don’t quite know why. I think, upon reflection, that I just don’t want to admit that this cancer might still kill me. That I’m not ever going to be able to ‘go back’. I don’t want to give it power over me. I don’t want it to be a chronic condition. I want this to end. Now. Today.
Today I have my big appointment. It’s hard, a lot of you know how hard it was, to admit that I needed help. More help than I was getting, simply not recognizing the emotional drain on my family and caregivers. The trips to chemotherapy every week. The bad news, the good news, rush hour traffic, putting off trips and vacations, the lack of money and healthy food, hiding things from me, from themselves, worrying, wondering, being scared and wanting to scream with frustration. The emotional drain is exhausting.
I try to keep things upbeat. I have tried to hide what I feel because I thought I understood how hard it was on my caregivers. They are not recognized. The person with cancer gets all the attention. Sometimes ,it seems, by everyone. I just want to say, I know now. I know what has been given to me. Now I know.
Those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning know how scared I was. How confused and beaten down by my emotions I was. I started this blog because I really didn’t know how to speak to my family and friends about my cancer diagnosis.
That is where I found you.
Yes, you. You wonderful supportive people from everywhere around the globe who have taken a moment out of some crazy busy schedules to encourage and support me. My caregivers here who helped me learn to speak about what happened to me. Who just listened and let me have my meltdowns and walked me through some of the hardest days of my life.
Losing my kittens. Losing my dog. The betrayal and accusations recently by my niece, which I am still struggling with. The cancer. The chemo. The fear of death. The pity I felt for my mother struggling to make ends meet, to keep abreast of the paperwork, to get me to chemotherapy every week. My sister, my beautiful sister, who is terrified of sickness and doctors and who lived every moment with my diagnosis. Trying to overcome her fears, overcome her fear of losing me. Of losing another loved one. As if what she went through in 2008 wasn’t enough to break her. She had to go through this too.
My brothers and their wives all trying in their own separate ways to support me from so far away. To talk to their children, their daughters especially, who are condemned to carry this cancer marker all their lives. Who will have to be extra vigilant because of it.
My cousin who has gone through this, who lost so much, lost a brother and a friend. Had her own diagnosis and fought like a tiger to win. And won.
My uncles and aunts who knew, I never understood how well, what it was to see a member of your own branch, torn away by the storm, so young and vibrant, so many chances to grow and learn from mistakes, to have that chance ripped away. The chance to see your children grow up, to see your brother again, your father, your mother.
It’s agony sometimes to see all the lost opportunities I’ve had throughout my life to support them. My family. I didn’t, you know. I just didn’t. Now that I see what a crucial role that family and friends play in a life disrupted by sickness and loss I am ashamed to say I didn’t know. But now I do.
All I can offer now is a chance to help you by sharing what I’ve learned this past year.
Women have a 1 in 38 chance of getting uterine or endometrial cancer. If you have ANY bleeding whatsoever after menopause, it needs to be evaluated. It’s a straightforward check up. They believe that before menopause, taking birth control pills will reduce your chances of contracting these forms of cancer. There are other health risks associated with the use of any kind of hormone treatment and this is something you need to discuss with your gynecologist. Be aware that family practice doctors are not educated in women’s health very thoroughly. Don’t make my mistake and listen exclusively to them. Find and establish a relationship with a gynecologist, if you don’t already have one, after you are 40. It’s extremely important that you recognize early signs and symptoms of something gone wrong. You can save yourself and your family heartache and, potentially, loss, by simply becoming familiar with these signs. Please do it. Don’t let embarrassment and ignorance drive you down the road I’ve been on. It’s a terrible path that I would spare you.
There is some scientific evidence that curcumin and turmeric are excellent at reducing C125 levels in men and women. Make yourself familiar with this ugly little root. It can be a lifesaver. Familiarize yourself with routines that include familiarity with your body and what you can do. If you notice swelling in your lower abdomen, shortness of breathe, heaviness in your legs, exhaustion and/or bleeding or spotting GO see your gynecologist, not your family doctor.
I just got out of my appointment. I am not ‘clean’. My marker is elevated, still, but going down, slowly down. I don’t have to go back to chemotherapy. No more dense dose chemo. Do you know how that makes me feel? I can go back to work on Oct 1st! Do you know how long I’ve waited to hear that? I’m healing. And I want to thank you.
I’ve tried to heal my spirit on this blog. To release some of the demons that have plagued me for the last year, not always successfully. Many times I’ve just cried. Sat and cried my eyes out, realizing what I’ve lost.
And what I’ve gained.