Today I had a zoom call with the surgeon who did my hysterectomy on July 15. If you saw my post “Cancer Free?” you’ll know I’ve been on a bit of a journey with my health.
Since July 15, I’ve been waiting, mostly patiently, to find out if I still had cancer.
Most days, I focused my thoughts on the idea that the cancer had been contained in my uterus and hadn’t spread to the nearby lymph nodes or beyond. But there were moments, when I’d panic, or cry or wonder all of the questions you might have.
- Do I still have cancer?
- Did it spread?
- If so, where?
- What stage is it?
- What type is it?
- What would the treatment be?
- How long would I have to live?
When I felt that intense emotion creep in I would immediately try to refocus and go back to thoughts of a new lease on life, on finding joy in little things, laughter with friends, etc… and like I said, most days, that would work.
Last night, though, I didn’t sleep, the anxiety was high, the worrisome “what if’s” took over my little brain and I couldn’t fight it off. I suppose I was due that process, those emotions, so I let it come, the tears, the fear, the wonder.
Around 4 am or so, I napped, for two hours. At 6 I was awake, I just couldn’t focus, I couldn’t rest. Eventually I got up and did all those morning routine things, shower, coffee and busy work. I needed to distract my mind, every minute that it came closer to the scheduled appointment time my anxiety was heightened.
At 1:30pm, I was logging in and ready to chat with the surgeon…. Waiting and waiting. And of course, she was running a little behind, as is common with any doctor appointment. I received a message from her nurse that said they would call me when she was available.
Hurry up and wait. Hurry up and wait.
Finally a bit after 2pm, her nurse called me and it was time. I was, without a doubt nervous.
Our conversation began with a focus on how I was feeling with my recovery so far, a check list of questions. And while I was engaged in that conversation, in my mind I kept thinking, when do we get to the results… And then we did.
I had a Stage 1a mass, embedded in the side of my uterus. Stage 1a is super early in the world of cancer. The additional results showed that it hadn’t spread to the ovaries, or the Fallopian tubes, or the nearby lymph nodes.
This meant. I was. I am, at this time.
I literally let out a massive sigh of relief, so noticeable she commented on it, saying it was great, and I of course cried. This entire experience is such an emotional rollercoaster.
I’m extremely lucky. The news could have gone in a completely different direction. I’m ever grateful it did not.
So now, I focus on recovery. I go in for regular check ups to make sure it doesn’t come back or if it does we catch and kill it. I have a list of symptoms to keep in mind. If these things happen they are a red flag and I must proactively seek help and treatment.
I also have some life changes to make to help prevent potential issues down the line. Mostly a shift in what I eat to avoid hormones, as the cancer feeds on that. That will no doubt be a challenge (because cheese…), but I can do this.
I know this is a long post but I really wanted to continue to share my story.
Again I am extremely lucky, I know this. So many of these stories go another direction. For that I am so grateful.
I am also sharing this because I want to reiterate how important it is…
- that we have access to health care
- that we have doctors who listen to us
- that we listen to ourselves when something feels off
If you are like me and grew up thinking “I’m tough, I got this, I don’t need help”. Or “this is normal”, because people are telling you it is.
Listen to your gut.
Listen to your heart.
Listen to your mind.
And choose yourself.
Find someone who will listen to you, and I mean listen. Find someone who will take that information and help you. It seems like that shouldn’t be so hard to find, but it is.
If you’ve been through this, or anything like this and you want to talk, or share or feel in need of support, please reach out. I’d love to talk to you (firstname.lastname@example.org).