The Survivor Club is getting a new member. Me.
|Better pictures to come...I promise.|
This journey started back in August. A large ovarian cyst, rarely a problem I was assured. Surgery to remove it led to that big scary word. Cancer. Then even scarier descriptor: Ovarian. Ovarian Cancer, the one that whispers. The girl who physically can't whisper and is known to be the loudest in the room has a cancer that barely utters a peep. I barely uttered a peep about it as well.
We circled the wagons, my family and I, my incredibly loyal work friends. We let a few people in a time, worried about their reaction. Unsure of what to even tell them. It was early stage and at first it looked like I dodged a bullet and wouldn't need additional surgery just close monitoring. Could I even call myself a survivor if that was the case? A visit to a gynecological oncologist proved otherwise and I was whisked into major surgery to remove my appendix, omentum, lymph nodes and to check out the other ovary. I am proud to say it all came out cancer free, a tremendous blessing. I was in the hospital for four days and out of work for three weeks. In a small town and small office building rumors spread like wildfire, and still, not a whisper.
I toyed with the idea of telling more people, I told everyone it wasn't a secret, they could tell who they needed to tell. Cards came in the mail, from the nurse practitioner of my primary doctor, my sister's boyfriend's parents, wives of the firemen, my cousin Jenn's best friend. People were starting to learn, to reach out in support while still protecting our privacy. When it looked like I didn't need chemo, I thought I could get away with the whole thing. A second opinion and a lot of soul searching proved that wasn't the case and on Tuesday November 20th I went in for my first session. It was Thanksgiving week which I though was convenient as I wouldn't miss much work and I'd get to be surrounded by family throughout the first treatment.
I had an incredible week, including a great big teal fest at a nail salon with my cousins, amazing food and family. For the first time in the history of Thanksgiving, I actually lost weight because I was asleep before dessert. And on Sunday November 25th, while I was waiting for one of the best friends a girl could ask for to come over with some brunch, this was on CBS Sunday Morning by Joel Sartore. Please take a moment to watch.
Read it here
Watch it here
The first watch was hard. I thought, "Like I need THIS right now." Then I hit rewind and watched it again. Later after brunch, I showed it again to my husband, sister, her boyfriend and our friends. It was good. It was right. It was exactly what I needed.
"At our house, we hold hands tight these days." And hug closer, call more often and say I love you more.
"We are doing well, even thankful." Thankful for each other, love and support of friends and family, health insurance, flexible work schedules, extended sick leave, good karma and great people. For the oncology nurse practitioner my uncle married that would get me through each day of this to the hair dresser I went to elementary school with that let me cry in her salon. For food and gift cards and cookies in the mail. For being on the prayer list of my best friend's grandma, Friars in Philadelphia and the woman who works in the mail room. We are doing well. We are incredibly thankful.
"There has never been a better time in history to have cancer…look around you, we are all surrounded by survivors." I come from a long line of cancer survivors, both grandmothers, both grandfathers and my Aunt Jane. My Aunt Sue fought a hard battle and I am strengthened by the courage and grace she showed until her last day. Everyone I meet tells a cancer story. Sometimes it's their story, sometimes the story of someone they love. Every time it is filled with strength, courage and hope. We are surrounded by strength of survivors. That is something we shouldn't be quiet about. The more we tell the stories, the more we share the hope and courage of survivors, the less the disease has control over our lives.
"Ask anyone of them if they are thankful. Everyday they’ll say, every day." I've been more thankful lately. For the little things and the big things. Mike and I have been living life to the fullest (most would argue we already did that). We went to NYC, I rocked my shaved head to work on Friday and wore a chemo cap out to a party for the first time on Saturday. We are not hiding. We are thankful every day. We are living every day.
By February, I plan to join the survivors club. I am grateful, thankful, and ready to hit this session head on this Tuesday. Who do you know in the survivor's club? Feel free to leave their (or your) story below.