To anyone who has fought some kind of battle, know that God is by your side.
One evening in January, I woke up in the hospital bed with 2 diagnoses: infertility and cancer, whispered to me by my husband after I reassured him that I was strong enough to handle the news.
I was 35 years old when I was diagnosed with Stage 1b-c endometrioid adenocarcinoma or endometrial ovarian cancer, from which I had to have a total hysterectomy, debulking and staging, followed by chemotherapy.
In the succeeding days I found myself crying in the middle of the night, crying for the fear of mortality, crying because my husband stood by my side no longer as my romantic partner but as my sole caregiver.
We were trying to get pregnant, and after an imaging test, my doctor noticed a rapid increase in size of my ovarian cyst within 10 month’s time. If we were not trying, the doctor would not have caught it in time, and I would have been a walking time bomb. The only symptoms I experienced seemed GI-related.
God had spared me.
The 2 weeks during my recovery from surgery was challenging. I had to learn to be vigilant about my diet and heal for chemotherapy. My husband and I had no immediate family around but I was so grateful for the family and friends who showed up and deeply cared. I have accepted those who were not at ease in addressing my illness, or those who did not visit me maybe because they were busy with their own lives or their own problems. But each member from my side of the family flew in to take turns and keep me company. I was given the rare chance of bonding with each one of them.
Thinking simply, I told myself that I have cancer and I need treatment. I chose not to be too informed about it but only focused on getting a second opinion on my pathology report and treatment options.
During my chemotherapy sessions, I met a wonderful and positive network of cancer patients and survivors. We actually got to have a conversation that made sense to us, despite our dose of Benadryl and our chemo-brain.
I filled up my schedule to my physical capacity with knitting lessons and walks in the park. After almost 20 years, I also found joy in dancing the ballet again, this time among housewives. When my count was down, I was forced and learned to slow down.
Then before you knew it, my chemo was over! This was my second chance in life and I decided to live in the present; taking pleasure in loving those who have given me comfort, support, and hope. With my doctor’s clearance, I hopped on a plane to go back to my roots. I caught up with my high school friends, personally thanked those who prayed for me, spent time with my family, and visited my grandmother who has Alzheimer’s. My husband and I also celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary filled with unplanned activities (so unlike me) where I learned the sense of peace that you get from letting go.
My husband has been very supportive the entire time. When I saw my abdominal scar, he said it was okay. When I lost my eyebrows, he said I looked “mestiza”. When my skin broke out like a teen-ager, he told me my acne will go away. When I was cold, he told me to turn my heater on (with my hot flashes). When I lost my hair, he said I was as cute as a baby. His positive attitude helped me deal with accepting my new situation. And to my amusement, my 4 year old niece asked her mom if I got a haircut, while my 3 year old nephew told me that I’m no longer a porcupine because my hair got thicker.
It was not easy going back to normal overnight. Slowly my eyebrows started growing back but my hair was still not long enough. I was able to do a pirouette in ballet class but I suffered from pain in my hands and feet. I felt re-energized to carry a conversation but I had cognitive difficulties at times.
I have always been content and happy. But my outlook in life has changed. I value experiencing life through activities, travels, and relationships more than buying that dream house.
Last updated on: 09/26/2010
This piece was a lifejacket that saved me from drnonwig.
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