I was fortunate to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 45 – fortunate that it was detected very early though serendipitous circumstances. While doctors cleaned up a horrid appendix, they saw a cyst which I then had monitored, removed and biopsied. With a strong family history of female cancer, I had been preparing (and being prepared) for this challenge for a while.
My diagnosis was Stage 1 Grade 3 epithelial cancer in both ovaries. I underwent a pelvic clearance and six sessions of chemo. Eighteen months on, the cancer task was ‘complete’. Unfortunately, after two years, I discovered it had returned and spread. It was inoperable, but responded well to another round of chemotherapy. From then, I stayed on a monthly maintenance program of chemo, until the tumours returned again in late 2015. I underwent another five sessions of chemo (I wasn’t up to facing the sixth!), and responded well. In June 2016, I decided to stop chemotherapy, and give my body a break, and I have started on a regime of oral ‘PARB Inhibitors’.
So far, so good. I know that the tumors will return, but I am making the most of time that, five years ago, I didn’t think I would have. I will get to see my daughter graduate from high school, and may even see university graduations and weddings.
After my initial diagnosis, I was quite lost and confused. Then I found Beautiful You. I saw a small ad in a local paper, and decided to join a monthly meeting. Straight away, I found a safe and supportive refuge. Everyone had a different story, a personal journey, but there was something that bound us all. At Beautiful You I found I could share as much or as little as I wanted. There was little talk of medical things, but lots of talk about life.
I continued to attend Beautiful You gatherings for many years (until I left the Coast), and they continued to provide me the support I needed. I have made some lifelong friends through Beautiful You – the greatest support of all
My cancer provided me the opportunity to meet some wonderful women who I would not otherwise have met. I have been presented fantastic opportunities to use my existing talents to spread the message of vigilance and support. I am particularly passionate about helping to establish processes to ensure that all women with cancer, regardless of location and hospital, are provided appropriate and relevant information at crucial times (which isn’t when they are leaving hospital!).
You can’t choose your fate, but you can choose how you respond to it.