This post is quite personal and if you don’t want to know the details then don’t read it. It is also the longest post I have ever written and that is because it is so personal. For those who are concerned, my adult children and other family members already know this story. It is my story and it is my story to share, so please don’t tell me that I am sharing too much information, because as I said it is my story to share. It is also a story that is shared by other women and that is also why I am sharing it now. Read if you want or don’t, please keep me in your prayers and good thoughts as I am going to need them through the next while.
All my life I have loved being female – there isn’t any question that I love being a woman. I rail against the inequality that most women around the world face. I know that as a white woman living in Canada I have had more privileges than the majority of women in the world. Now however I have been touched in a place that no matter your life experience or privilege you know that you are connected with all the women you have ever known and even those you haven’t known.
This has been the reason that I have been so absent from this blog over the last couple of months. I have been dealing with a health issue that has me so scared, unsure, and is so full of unknowns.
Let me back up a minute and give you all a little bit of history. I was one of those lucky women who had regular menstrual cycles with minimal cramping, I got pregnant easily when it was that time, carried three children to term, then entered perimenopause in my early 40’s and was all done and menopausal by the time I was 50. Woot! Woot! My reproductive bits did their job and now I could enter the next stage of my life, focusing on my good work, my creativity, my friendships, my marriage with the dear one, enjoying my adult children take on all the challenges and joys of their lives, be there for our parents as they move into being elders. Just enjoy life.
Then a few months ago I noticed something. I was spotting. Those of you who are at all aware of these issues will know that this is not supposed to happen in post-menopausal women. Not at all. I waited a bit, went to see my family doctor, she did all the appropriate things at that point. Then the spotting got heavier and I started to have cramps – oops! That is definitely not supposed to happen.
My family doctor sent me to get tests. They discovered what they thought was a cyst on one of my ovaries. Not worrying yet. Then she sent me for an MRI and that is when we all knew that things weren’t okay. They saw what the medical specialists like to call a complex mass on my ovary. Complex means that it is not just a cyst with liquid in it but it also has solid bits in that may be growing. Double oops! That was the first time I heard the words ‘This may be cancer’ come out of my doctor’s mouth. I will admit after her phone call (yes, she called me at home!) that I collapsed into the arms of the dear one. We got this news in the middle of Holy Week – you who know clergy families will know how stressful that week is to begin with and this just added to the stress.
The next week saw blood tests and a CAT scan. Then the wait to hear from the specialists office about an appointment. This is where I need to put a plug in for Canadian health care. My family doctor saw me promptly, she got me the necessary tests promptly, I got into the specialists office promptly. When it comes to possible cancer our health care system goes into high gear and for that I am extremely thankful!
The specialist turned out to be a gynecologic oncologist surgeon (try saying that a couple of times fast) who was kind, thorough and explained everything to me. The good news is the blood tests showed there are no cancer markers. Woot! Woot! The more disturbing news is that the complex mass on my ovary is now over 5 centimeters in diameter and both my ovaries need to come out. I am feeling so sad about this. Those ovaries along with my uterus are what have helped define me as a woman, not completely define me but are part of the definition and they provided the eggs that eventually became each of my three lovely children. They were a gift of life and love. Now I have to let them go. Now I have to say thank you to them, mourn them and prepare for surgery.
It is only after the removal of my ovaries and the scrapping of my poor uterus will we know if it is cancer or not. That will have to wait for 2 to 3 weeks post-surgery. The wait for the surgery, the wait for the results are going to be a time of such personal uncertainty for me and for the dear one.
Here I sit, in the midst of not knowing. Not knowing what is going to happen next. Not knowing if cancer is really going to become part of my story. Not knowing if I can adjust if it is. Here I sit in the midst of knowing. I know that I have this amazing community of family, friends and even strangers who will be praying for me in the next while. I know that the dear one will be with me every step of the way. I know that God will be with me no matter what happens.
If you have made it this far, thank you. If you are the praying kind and are willing to pray for me, thank you. If you are the good thoughts, good vibe kind and are willing to put them out there for me, thank you.