My cancer diagnosis was a very fortunate accident. I was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis in 2010. My gynecologist referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE), knowing that conceiving would be difficult for me. That RE recommended surgery to remove a uterine fibroid and ovarian cysts when I was ready to try to conceive. I got married and made an appointment to start the fertility process while on my honeymoon. During the preparation for that surgery, a pelvic MRI raised the possibility that one of the cysts was cancerous, so my RE added a gynecologic oncologist to the surgical team. Neither doctor thought I had cancer as I was young (37) and had a reasonably low CA125.
I went into surgery thinking I would breeze right through and start fertility treatment three months later. Instead, I woke up, took one look at my husband’s face, and knew I had cancer. The surgery was more extensive than anticipated. I spent over a week in the hospital, most of that time in the ICU. I then completed six cycles of chemotherapy. I thought this was where my cancer story would end. Fortunately (once again), I started seeing a new, amazing gynecologic oncologist who brought up having a child and gave me the green light to begin trying. I returned to the same RE who saved my life with a giant smile on my face. Just making it to the office to discuss the next steps felt like a huge win.
The biggest win happened about a year later. Exactly three years to the day of my diagnosis and at the same hospital, I gave birth to my daughter. Once again, my life changed forever. She participated in her first NOCC walk a few weeks later. This year on her seventh birthday, I celebrated ten years cancer-free.
My family has been such a large part of my journey. My husband sat with me at every chemo appointment and was there every step of the way during treatment and over the past ten years. Giving birth to my daughter helped me see my body in a whole new light and realize that my body was still capable of amazing things. I look at her and see the best of me happened after cancer.
My advice for someone newly diagnosed is this – you are stronger than you know. Cancer and treatment are hard; there’s no doubt. You will find a way to do things you never thought you could.