In March of 2015, I began to feel bloated all of the time, and my abdomen seemed to be experiencing constant pressure. I knew something wasn’t right. But as a single mom of three very busy and active young ones, I didn’t have time to take care of myself.
Two months later, I couldn’t take it any longer. I went in and immediately regretted it. No one wants to hear those three words, “you have cancer” I am sure this is an element in every survivor’s story. In that room, hearing those words, I promised I would fight this with all that I had for my children. Only, at the time, I was diagnosed with Stage IC ovarian cancer and was expected to go through my first round of chemotherapy. Only as difficult as it is to determine ovarian cancer, it is even easier to misdiagnose.
After that first round, with absolutely no results. My specialists went in again and identified that in addition to having the “privilege” of having this rare cancer, it was even rarer than that. I was correctly diagnosed with Sertoli-Leydig ovarian cancer stage IIC, and a different course of treatment was set to follow.
A year and a half after my initial diagnosis, I was finally released from treatment. I will never be free of my cell tumor; it will always be in wait. So I am monitored and ever vigilant. I have chosen to live every day to its fullest, love with all I have, and never waste a moment.
My family and friends were a constant for me. They were there when I let them in, which was the hardest part as I am fiercely independent. I truly thought I had everything under control; I knew I had this and didn’t need help from anyone. I met my now-husband in 2017, and crazily enough, his mother had also been fighting this ugly disease. What were the odds?!?! And it wasn’t until I met this amazing woman that I realized how wrong I had been all along.
She introduced me to the NOCC, shared her tribe with me, took me to my first Teal Tea in Tucson, AZ, and I knew then that this is how we thrive, together! Now, with my tribe, my now-grown children, family, friends, and my amazing husband, keep me whole, focused, and I will continue to make the absolute best of this life.
To those newly diagnosed, you cannot do this alone. Lean on those who support you. Let them lift you, allow them to fill you when you don’t have the energy, when you’re at your worst, and it seems hopeless, and have the grace to ask for help. Being vulnerable isn’t weakness. The one regret I have from my experience is that I tried to hide it all from my children.
They were in high school, in activities and performances, ball games, and dances. I continued to be there for them, in pain and exhausted; I wanted to keep life normal for them, but I never let them see the struggle. It wasn’t fair to them; it wasn’t fair to me. Yes, this happened to me, but I didn’t think how it would affect them. Share your journey, and let them in. Ask for help, and give yourself grace.
My advice to others is to reach out!! Do not be embarrassed, do not feel overwhelmed, and do not feel like a burden. There are those who love you, ones you know, and ones you have yet to meet!! Find your tribe, women, just like you, those who will know the struggle and understand why you’re awake at 2 am because the steroids won’t let you rest. Those ladies and gentlemen will be your lifeline!