I was 24 when I was forced to fight for my life. This is much younger than the usual age group that ovarian cancer is known to target.
After being diagnosed, things that I had experienced over the last few years started to make sense. I had been having horrible pains in my uterus and despite my mother's warning, I paid no attention. I thought the pain was related to my menstrual period and that it would go away on its own. There were several times when the pain was so intense that I would lie on the floor, curl up into a ball, and start to get the shakes. It really felt at those times like someone was trying to rip out my insides. I should have taken these warning signs more seriously. I was young and naive to the real danger that was going on inside of me.
I would say the typical "I have really bad periods" and the mentality of "nothing serious can happen to me" would push out the voice that was trying to warn me. I know this tumor was inside of me for a while (longer than I think) and who knows where I would be if the tumor had never turned just right causing me to feel it. Before my experience, I had never heard of ovarian cancer.
During the initial six months that I fought ovarian cancer, I felt like my life stood still. I did not do much beside sit at home and wait for the next treatment. One thing that was hardest for me was trying to understand why my friends did not come around much. One day I had a talk with my mom and I began to understand that maybe it was to painful for them to see me that way or perhaps they really did not know how to handle the situation. I had to respect that they were not abandoning me, but that they just needed to find their own way through it. So my life revolved around a cycle of treatments, illness, and a brief break from the sickness that chemotherapy causes. I was stuck in a zone where my only focus was on my disease and getting better and it seemed as if life went on without me.
Now that I have been blessed with a second chance, some things have changed and some things have remained the same. My relationships with the people I care about the most have gotten so much stronger. I have made new friends and I am helping to make a difference.
I saw the devotion, dedication, and love that my husband has for me. When I asked him to move into my mothers house, he did not even hesitate. He knew and accepted that I needed to be with my mother during this time. He was there by my side in every way that I needed him to be. Knowing that he will always be there for me allows me to feel such peace.
My mother and I have a bond that can never be broken. She played the biggest part in my healing. When I didn't have the energy to fight anymore she was there to remind me what I was fighting for. She is my angel and I don't think a word exists that could even begin to express my appreciation and love for her.
I appreciate every moment that I have with my daughter. Yes, it is still frustrating when she will not pick up her room or wants to argue about everything, but she is a child and they do that stuff. I know that everyday can be my last and that I need to cherish every moment that I have with her. I never had the courage to tell her that I had cancer while I was going through chemo. I tried a few times but I could barely say the words aloud to myself so how was I supposed to tell her that I had cancer. It broke my heart to imagine the fears that she would have. We just told her I was sick and that I was getting better. I am not sure when she discovered that I did have cancer, but I do know it was after we were back at home. For a long time she would cry whenever I would leave the house and when I was at the house she would have to be around me all the time. She is a mommy's girl for sure. As time goes by she gets better and hopefully soon enough any fear that she has about it will be gone.
One thing that has changed in my life is that I am now involved in an organization called the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC). Being able to help raise awareness about ovarian cancer has helped me in so many ways. I know that women are becoming better informed about something that is so deadly, yet never talked about. We are talking about it and we will keep talking about it until every woman knows what the symptoms are and that no woman is immune to it.
With the help from my local NOCC chapter I have helped start a support group called "Getting Ovar It". I hope it will be successful and help many women out there with this disease.
I could not ask for a stronger support system. Not only do I have my family and friends but I have the "Getting Ovar it" girls. These women are some of the most courageous women that I will ever have the honor of knowing. I know that no matter what happens in my life I will be connected to these women in a way that can never be duplicated. I am not alone!
I live everyday with the fear that the cancer is going to come back. I do not think the fear is ever going to go away. Every pain makes my heart sink and sends my mind racing. The thought of going through the whole thing again scares me beyond imagination. The question of "will I be so lucky next time" is stuck on repeat in my mind. I have decided that even though I think about it everyday, I will not let it run my life. I am dedicated to helping others learn about this disease and helping other survivors overcome it. Overall, I am alive and life is good!