In 2006, I learned that I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation which puts me at a higher risk for both breast and ovarian cancer. Since then, I have had breast screenings every six months (mammograms alternating with breast MRIs). After my mammogram in July 2011, I was speaking with the oncology nurse practitioner. She told me, “I can monitor your breasts. I am concerned about your ovaries. Cancer can start in the fallopian tubes and that just doesn’t show up on ultrasound.” I thought about and since I was done with having kids, I had a prophylactic oophorectomy in September 2011 – a surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes in an effort to prevent ovarian cancer as much as possible – but instead of being a preventative measure, I learned that I had ovarian cancer (coincidentally or not, September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month).
I have reviewed the known symptoms repeatedly and I did not have any of them unless I really “reach” to make one fit. I keep searching for “the whispers” that ovarian cancer provides but I have not located any yet. I can honestly say that I truly understand why ovarian cancer is sometimes called “the silent killer.” I have seen every woman on both sides of my family face breast cancer head-on and they all beat it. I will do the same with ovarian cancer. While it is true that I have cancer, cancer does NOT have me.
I am in a clinical trial and have been in remission for almost a year. I am nearing the end of the maintenance treatment phase of the trial and am hopeful that I stay in remission forever. On the anniversary of my tumor debulking surgery, I completed a half marathon. I walked every step but what’s important is that I finished and I proved to myself just how far I have come. This year, I plan to enter two half marathons and might even throw a full marathon in there just for good measure.
Much like the five marathons that I completed prior to my diagnosis, my journey has been a winding road with hills and valleys (some are predictable and some are not) but I envision receiving my medal at the end in the form of a complete recovery and triumph over cancer.
I started a blog about my journey focusing on the latest “comma” added to my identity: daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, friend, aunt, mom, cancer patient, and now cancer survivor. This blog includes other “dramas of the commas” since my cancer diagnosis affects not only me but those who love and care about me. My best friend since birth contributes about her experiences as she takes this journey with her life-long friend. She shares her perspective as a long-distance caregiver by showing that even distance does not stop her ability to be an incredible source of support to me. Blogging is a form of therapy for me and very few people read it but I’m o.k. with that. If you would like to check it out, please go to candidaboutcancer.com.