I am 34 and divorced, living single in the city. This is not what the 25-year-old me had pictured my life to be. That is okay. I have gotten used to the idea that plans and dreams have to change. I have also learned that while those changes are happening I am the only one who knows what is best for me.
I was 31 years old the moment this occurred to me shortly after the most disturbing conversation with a gynecologist. She was the third doctor I had seen. Month after month I was submersed into a concoction of discomfort and excruciating pain.
The episodes would sneak in quietly with extreme bloating. I looked five months pregnant! This was followed by a dab of lightheadedness, then BANG! Shooting pains from my back to my hips and down my legs. I couldn't walk, I could barely keep my eyes open and I have never felt lonelier than laying in my bed in the dark trying to survive these monthly episodes.
I went from doctor to doctor and no one had a solution and brushed it off. The third doctor I had visited made me so angry that I began to fight even harder for answers. I sat in the white clean room, unclothed, vulnerable and scared. I explained everything that had been happening. I showed pictures of my belly when it was bloated and watched her take notes.
Finally with a soft smile and endearing tone she says to me, "Maybe this is a part of a depression from your split from your husband. Maybe you should write in a journal. That could make you feel better."
I couldn't believe it. This doctor actually believed I was making it all up. I was so angry. I didn't cry, I didn't shout, I was paralyzed. I had to find my own solutions.
At the same time at work I had the opportunity to meet and work with the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance. I reviewed the information, and after watching a Dr. Oz special on ovarian cancer I realized I had three of the four symptoms.
- Pelvic or Abdominal Pail
- Difficulty eating
I made an appointment with my general practitioner as soon as possible. I went in there strong and ready to make a case for myself. The minute I saw her face I completely broke down. I was rambling in tears. I think all she could make of it was that I believed I had cancer. There was nothing else to explain why I was feeling so bad.
She held my hand and said, "I don't think you have cancer, but I will give you a referral to a friend of mine who is an oncologist. He can help you."
I ran out of there with that referral like Charlie with the golden ticket. I was scared but so excited that an end to this confusion and frustration would be over and I can move on. No matter what the battle was going to be I was ready.
I walked into the oncologist office frigid, but once in the door I relaxed. It was a nice, friendly, clean office, very warm colors, and quite a few families. The nurse took me back to a room with a small round dining table and plants. The doctor came in friendly and warm.
I felt more confident talking to a doctor with my clothes on face to face. I was an equal to him. I was no longer vulnerable. I was presenting a problem to a problem solver. I explained everything to him, calmly.
He echoed my general practitioner's thoughts, but he said, "I will do everything to check everything out to put you at ease."
He ordered another ultrasound; this had been my third since I was 27. I had a few before while I was trying to conceive and encountered fertility issues. The results were in a few days later, and the good doctor called me. His nurse did not call me; he actually took time away from his very serious cancer treatment appointments to call me and tell me the news.
It was good news. I had a bicornate uterus. This is what was causing endometriosis, and the results was ovarian cyst bursts every month.
I was relieved, but I was angry. I had been on fertility drugs while I was married for three years. I had had two ultrasounds and countless blood tests. Not one doctor had seen this. The fertility drugs were chemicals put into my body without purpose. I still have small bald spots from where my hair fell out. I have considered what my mental and emotional state was and perhaps could have caused the divorce as these chemically-induced hormones ravaged my body.
That is a question that will never be answered. I am 34 and divorced, living single in the city. This is not what the 25-year-old me had pictured my life to be. That is okay. I am where I am because this is where I belong. I know this because I am happy. I am confident that I will never let doctors try and tell me what I feel is not real.
I am also committed to the success of the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance. Without knowing the symptoms I would not have advocated so strongly for myself. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. I hope you read this story and share the symptoms. Someone you may know may be in pain and is scared to talk about it or talk to their doctor. Just sharing those four symptoms can save a life.