Christine Chasse, Scarsdale, NY
As a child, I knew all I wanted in life was to get married and have kids. But my dreams to be a mother were shattered when in May 2008, at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer.
It all started with constant upset stomachs and headaches. Nothing seemed to relieve the pain. Once very active, I found myself weak and tiring easily. Then one day my doctor found what appeared to be a cyst growing on my right ovary. Despite this, I still had hope. I thought that perhaps they would remove the cyst and my life (and plans) would go back to normal. But after numerous doctors’ visits, blood tests, and surgery, my doctors informed me that a full hysterectomy was in order. This left me with no time to freeze my eggs for future use, and with the very upsetting notion that I would never bear children.
To make a long story short, after the removal of my reproductive organs, I underwent three long chemo sessions. My first and second date with the toxic substance was not so bad. I remember thinking to myself, “this isn’t so bad, I might be able to make it through this!” But my third session proved otherwise. My veins had become rubber and I developed “chemo brain”. I was forgetful, tired, and couldn’t even get out of the bed to use the bathroom. By the end of my third session, I was so sick I thought I would not live to see another day.
More upsetting than finding out I had cancer and getting a full hysterectomy, was losing my hair. Although I didn’t lose my hair right away, the whole process was devastating.
I vividly remember one day while taking a shower, I looked down and found the tub completely covered in hair. It took me longer to clean the shower drain, than it did to actually bathe. I also remember times when I would go out for a drive with the windows down; to then find clumps of hair on my shoulders. I couldn’t believe that something as simple as the wind would make my hair fall off! It was at this point that I decided to shave it all off.
While I don’t mean to sound vain, for all those people who said “It’s just hair”…. Well, its not! My hair, once long and healthy, made me feel strong, confident, and sexy! To lose it meant losing all things that represented my femininity. More important, it was that sure tell sign that I had cancer. A visual for all people to see, point, and say: “oh, she must be sick”.
But there is always light at the end of the tunnel. One year later – after living through three surgeries, three chemo sessions, scarves, and a wig, I am healthy again! Recent test studies show that my blood levels are normal, and that there is little to no chance of developing other types of cancer. It feels good to know that despite the odds, I did it! I BEAT CANCER! Given this, there is nothing in the world that I feel I cannot face or accomplish.
If there is one good thing that I could have taken from this experience, is the tremendous amount of love and support that I have received from people, especially strangers! It is funny to think that the people I thought would be there for me were not strong enough to stand by my side. But I do not blame them. I did not think I would be strong enough either. However, people from across the country were praying for me. Aside from my close friends and family, it is to these people that I am grateful for believing in me, and giving me the moral support I needed to keep on fighting.
Thank you to all my friends and family that were there for me. A special thank you to B-rock, Sue, Peanut, JuJu Bean and Marylou. And to God, because despite the challenge he presented before me, I know this has made me a stronger and better person.