Over the past six months I have been tried and tested and learned I am stronger than I ever dreamed.
After spending much of the last half of 2021 dealing with what I thought were menopause symptoms I persisted with my doctor and I learned the unimaginable on December 20. I had uterine cancer. I was referred to an oncologist. That’s one kind of doctor I never thought I would have in my life.
In preparation for surgery my oncologist ordered a CT scan because I didn’t fit any of the profiles for uterine cancer. The CT scan brought more bad news. In addition to uterine cancer, I had a tumor on one ovary and cyst on the other. Plus, I had suspicious spots on my bowel and liver as well as enlarged lymph nodes.
What was supposed to be a pretty routine two-hour surgery now changed to major surgery with a 14 inch incision and a surgery time of seven hours on January 13. My first surgery and it was going to be a big one! My first time back in a hospital since I was born!
Since you are reading this, you know the surgery went well! One thing I am is determined (a nice word for stubborn). I was determined to get out of the hospital as soon as I could. My oncologist said I could leave on January 16 at the earliest if I took five walks on the 15th. Of course, I took five walks! One with my nurse, two with my dad, and two with my husband. When my oncologist came in on the 16th, she said the nurses reported they saw me walking all day. I told her if she told me to walk 10 times I would have.
My husband brought me home for my recovery to start. During that time my oncologist called after the pathology came in from my surgery. It was decided I should have chemo. I needed to start six rounds of chemo as soon as I could.
During my chemo consultation I was told of all the potential side effects – including hair loss. February 9 marked my first chemo. I was determined not to lose my hair. My grandmother didn’t when she had chemo – so I reasoned I wouldn’t. Sadly, between my first and second chemo my hair started coming out. My husband shaved my head after the second chemo. My mom took me wig shopping where I got my “hat hair”. Like every other time in the past six months they took such good care of me.
I now have quite the hat collection, including one with hair!
I’ve had various side effects over the six cycles to varying degrees. I’ve had good days, I’ve had bad days, I’ve had painful days, I’ve had carefree days, I’ve had just plain weird days, and I’ve had cry all day days. Luckily the good days far outweigh the others. Chemo is one wild ride for sure.
My circle of friends and family (that is so much bigger than ever I knew it was) helped me through the good, the bad, and the tears. They prayed for me. They texted me. They sent me cards and letters. They sent me flowers. They sent me care packages. They visited us. They made me stronger than cancer. They helped keep my husband strong as he took care of me and fought my fight by my side.
My parents relieved my husband when he needed a well deserved break. My dad would take him to lunch or on a day trip. My mom was always here as a constant support for me as I recovered. Even at 46 I still need my mom and dad.
When I rang this bell today marking the end of chemo, I rang it with joy. I rang it for me, I rang it for my husband, I rang it for my mom and dad, I rang it for my circle, I rang it for my guardian angels, I rang it for the gift of survivorship. I rang it for those that never get ring the bell during their battle with cancer.
Now I transition to survivorship care. That means lots of periodic appointments, scans, and blood tests over the next five years. I cried with joy and relief when they told me I don’t need radiation and when I heard the word survivorship associated with me.
Cancer has struck my family and friends too many times. I never dreamed it would strike me. I’ve learned if you think there is something wrong persist – get tests, go to doctors until you are satisfied the whole picture is being taken into consideration.
I know this is a long thank you – but I owe so much to my friends and family.
Thank you for making me stronger than cancer. ❤