On July 15 I had a hysterectomy.

A decision not taken lightly of course, but a decision I had to make.

A few weeks prior to that I had an appointment with an OB/GYN to look into some issues I was having with some pretty intense periods.

This included very painful cramps and excessive bleeding which ultimately made me anaemic. These are symptoms I have been living with off and on for seven years. And I thought they were just normal. 

When the symptoms started I talked with my mom, I asked her what her experience was like at my age and her description matched what I was going through. So I wasn’t really worried but I was miserable.

After a while though, I just wasn’t convinced this was normal. So several years ago, I visited a doctor and at that time they said, “that all sounds normal” but did recommend getting an ultrasound.

Shortly after that appointment, I found myself laid off, uninsured with an unsure future. I was freelancing some, but there was another dip in the economy at that time too, so things were super slow. 

As a result, I put off the ultrasound.

Knowing what I was dealing with wasn’t every month, it was some months. Having been told, “my experiences were normal”, said to me that I didn’t need to worry. 

But when I would have these rougher months, it was really impactful,  it was sometimes incapacitating.

I have had days where I felt like I couldn’t leave my home.
I have had days when I was stuck in bed, with a heating pad or ice packs to help ease the pain.
I have had moments where I was in tears from the pain, and honestly depression.

But this was all normal. I had been told.

This spring, as we battle a pandemic, I reached a point where I couldn’t take it anymore. This can’t be normal and if it is normal surely there is something that can be done to help me. This was impacting my day to day functionality, and making me depressed, as my energy continued to deplete.

I went back to the local clinic I’d gone to in the past because I don’t have insurance and now I have very limited income. Again I was told it all sounds normal. One doctor suggested I go on a pill form of birth control to see if that would help. Another doctor suggested an ultrasound.

This time without insurance, without much money, I took that referral and decided to make it happen. And so far I’m grateful I did. The OB/GYN I met for an initial consultation listened to me and for the first time in my life, heard me. She also offered me a plan on how I could start to feel normal again.

That plan was maybe an IUD, maybe another type of birth control and potentially a hysterectomy if that seemed like the best option.

But we had to do the ultrasound, we had to figure out if there was an internal cause for the excessive bleeding. Because to her, it didn’t seem normal. Had she had patients with similar experiences, yes, but the percentage was small. Not as “normal” as other doctors had indicated. 

A few weeks later I had an ultrasound and they found a mass they called it a polyp. The size of the mass was taking up half of my uterus. 

This now meant a new plan: Remove the mass and look at birth control options. A less invasive option.

During the ultrasound they did a biopsy of the mass. The results came in indicating there was no cancer. My initial doctor felt confident they could remove it and things would probably be okay but she did send the results to an oncologist to review. 

That review led to an appointment with an oncologist who specialises in female reproductive organ cancers. During that appointment the oncologist indicated even though the biopsy came out clear that there was still a 40% chance of cancer.

While that number is below 50%, it still felt like a scary percentage. Her recommendation was to do the hysterectomy.

She stated if we just removed the mass there is a chance the cancer could’ve spread or a chance that something could come back with an even higher percentage of cancer.

First selfie, haha, 1030PM evening of surgery… I was out for 8 hours.

On July 15 I had a hysterectomy.

On July 16 I found out I had cancer.

During that procedure they did a broader biopsy of the mass and found cancer. As I write this I still don’t know what type of cancer what stage it is in or if they got it all.

Right now I am focusing on recovery from the surgery, trying to do a little work and teaching and a hope that this surgery got everything.

For those of you who know me you know I am a very private person. I typically don’t share things that I’m going through with just everybody but I felt it was important to share this.

We live in a country where everyone doesn’t have access to healthcare.

We live in a country where that lack of access prevents us from pursuing care because the costs associated with healthcare are overwhelming.

I don’t think this is fair, we are supposed to be a country that is looked up to and we are falling behind.

I’m sharing this because I want people to listen to their bodies, I want people to seek help when they feel they need it, even if they are told this is normal.

I should have listened to myself sooner. But I let hearing things like “this is normal”, my lack of access to healthcare, my lack of income make my decision, instead of trying to get help.

Today, I’m sitting in my living room, gathering my thoughts and wondering what is ahead, as I anxiously await results. 

I’ve achieved milestones like:

  • showering on my own
  • making coffee
  • cooking eggs
  • i’ve even taught two online classes with PCNW

Some of those seem so simple, everyday tasks, but they are little moments I’m grateful for.

I am also grateful to those who’ve helped me through this, from texts, flowers, my friend Kim to getting me to and from the hospital, my friend Hyde for flying in to stay with me to make sure I didn’t fall on my booty!

As I continue to move through this process, I will continue to share.

Thanks for reading. 

My hope is this story will help someone, somewhere, to choose themselves and their health over waiting to see what could happen, or hoping it will just go away. Some things may, I feel most things won’t. 

I grew up in a home where going to a doctor wasn’t a priority. So that’s behaviour I’ve learned. And behaviour I have to unlearn. Do I think I need to go to a doctor for a sneeze, no, but I’m definitely learning to listen to my body  more and how my health impacts me, both physically and mentally. I’m just sad it took me so long to do that. 

Self Portrait – July 22 – Home 6 days. Healing slowly.

20 thoughts on “Cancer Free?

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! I know that sometimes it’s early hard to get medical professionals to take your symptoms seriously. *sending love*

  2. Such a moving and intimate story. Thank you for sharing. Not only for you, but for the many others that are either thinking “this is normal”, when in actuality it’s something much bigger. You’re in my thoughts and sending healing vibes to you.

    I hope to catch up and give you a healing hug soon.

  3. Wow I had no idea you were going through this Kate! All my love and support goes out to you. I have had several women in my life that have battled cancer from uterine to breast and all very bravely. You can fight whatever the diagnosis is and please know if you need something I will help!

  4. Thanks so much Kate Lynn. It’s been a process and I’m just taking things day to day. 🙂

  5. Hey Dan, thanks so much, I hope you’ve been well and look forward to catching up soon.

  6. Hey Mike, there were lots of unknowns, I’m just starting to get some answers. Appreciate your thoughts and will see you soon. 🙂

  7. Kate~
    I’m so sorry you’re going though all this. Sounds like you finally found a Dr that really cares, thank goodness.
    If you need anything from a ride to a doctor appt or just a sounding board, I’ll be there for you.
    Rest up, don’t overdue. Prayers are heading your way 🙏

  8. So sorry to hear what you’ve going through Kate! Strangely enough, I’m facing almost the same situation right now, surgery scheduled for next week… I get alternating waves of panic and calm. I also feel like I should have recognized things weren’t normal sooner. Appreciate you sharing your story and glad to see you’re coming through it well, gives me more hope! What a time to be going through this! Wishing you a full and speedy recovery! Take care and be well friend!

  9. Hi Kate, so sorry to hear about what you’re experiencing. Thank you so much for publishing your experience and your very touching article to help others…this can’t have been easy given the private person you are. We are sending you lots of love and good health vibes across the pond and look forward to doing our photowalk someday in the not-to-distant future xxxx

  10. Your story is a good reminder that we must remain vigilant in the pursuit of personal health care. I learned years ago to take notes, ask questions and ask more questions when the answers don’t make sense. Sending long distance hugs of support.

  11. Thank you for sharing this story Kate. I never go to the doctor. It wasn’t a priority in my house either when I was growing up so I totally understand how you could just keep going on thinking what you were going through was normal. Or just dealing with it, thinking you can handle it. I’m working on unlearning this behavior too. You’re in my thoughts!

  12. Kate- Thanks for sharing. That took courage. 💜Thanks be to God that you are healing. Thanks for everything that you do and are. And please stay in touch and let me know if we can support you. Breathe . Hugs. Enjoy the peace and liveliness of healing.
    Hugs.
    Melody

  13. Thank you, Kate, for sharing your story! Your vulnerability is appreciated and impactful. I’m glad you moved forward even though you were told it was normal. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to that little voice inside… especially with health concerns, at least it is for me. Take care + well wishes to you!

  14. Hey Dana,

    Thanks so much. I’m on the path, recovering and focused on getting better. Right now my follow up is a call (thanks Covid), but I’ll keep you in the loop! 🙂

  15. Hey France.
    Thank you. I’m sorry to hear you’re going through something similar. I’m glad we’ve connected. I hope all the best for your next steps!

  16. Hey Nicki

    Thanks so much, I do hope someone out there finds this helpful. 🙂 I definitely look forward to that trip across the pond, post pandemic, when we can properly catch up and have that outing!

  17. Hey Veronica,
    Yes I have pages in my journal, research, questions and answers. Love to you both.:)

  18. Thanks Liz,
    Take care of yourself. Our health is important, I’ve always known that, but definitely let this go longer than it should have. We have to advocate for ourselves, we won’t often have someone do that for us. Especially if we keep it inside. 🙂

  19. Hey Melody
    Thanks for your thoughts, I really appreciate it. I’m hanging in and focused on day to day activities and healing. Love to you all!

  20. Hi Diane,

    Thanks so much for your comments, they do mean a lot. Stepping out of our comfort zone isn’t always easy, but important to do. 🙂

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