It was the summer of 2007. The Phillies were on their way to their first play-off appearance in 14 years. My husband and I were riding in the annual MS 150 City to Shore bike tour, raising money and awareness as we always have to help fight the disease which has impacted his mother’s life so profoundly. I was feeling restless at work and thinking about changing jobs. We were trying to get serious about buying a house. We were actively trying to start a family.
A week after Thanksgiving, I had an MRI which revealed a 10-cm mass on my ovary. Less than a week after that, I was under the knife, having my ovary and fallopian tube removed. I was diagnosed with stage IIIA ovarian cancer. The day after New Year’s, 2008, I had my remaining ovary and uterus removed. I spent Valentine’s Day in the hospital getting my first of 6 cycles of taxol and cisplatin.
In the end, I spent seven months out of work, slowly losing my mind, trying to eat, learning sudoku, reading like I imagined one does when one is incarcerated. I joined Facebook so I could play Scrabulous. Desperate times.
I finished chemo on June 11, 2008, and, astoundingly, returned to work three weeks later, the Monday after July 4th weekend. The year since then has been a perplexing, exhilarating swirl of physical and emotional challenges. I have crazy curly hair that has prompted more than few people (including my mother-in-law) to ask, “Did you get a perm?” (Sweet Jesus. May my follicles never again be subjected to the torment which they experienced repeatedly during my high school years. ) I have developed an unexpected fondness for running, which used to strike me as a distinct form of torture. I will never bear my own children.
I grieve every day for the things I have lost, but I am living more fully than ever.
Welcome to the rest of my life.
I have just completed a year of hysterectomy/chemo/radiation/more chemo for uterine papillary serous carcinoma, the cancer “that looks like ovarian, acts like ovarian, and is treated like ovarian” (or so my doctor tells me). My UPSC is so rare and deadly that there aren’t many women blogging about it. I just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed reading your blog, especially the hangover entry. Thank you.
My name is Liz and I have been reading your blog from time to time. I am very happy to hear that you are doing well and that your family plans are coming together. I can not wait to read a post about your first experience holding that child, that would be the amazing.
That said, since your blog is a great resource for someone going through cancer I wanted to reach out to you to see if you were interested in a new online social support network (that I am the community manager of!) called I Had Cancer. It is a new and free social support network focused on connecting people based on experiences with cancer so that they can easily communicate with one another and share information. I would love to tell you more if you are interested, so please let me know! Because I was so struck by your writing I would love to send you an early-access pass with extra invites for others you may know going through this journey.
Either way, thank you so much for your writing. Take care and best regards.
I stumbled across your blog when I was looking for articles on Levon Helm. At 25, I just finished chemo for ovarian cancer stage 3c and have been in remission for a month. Forcing myself to eat, knowing that I’ll never have my own children, the possibility of my hair growing back curly. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Thank you for sharing.