"I was diagnosed with uterine cancer in early May, met my oncologist in late May, and underwent surgery (radical hysterectomy) in late June.
A week later, I got the news that my cancer had been Stage 1a (earliest stage) and I would need no further treatment. I spent June and half of August on medical leave to recover and heal.
All in all, it feels like I had cancer for a summer. I belong to the cancer survivor club now, but it almost seems like I cheated to get into this exclusive club.
On blogs and other social media, I’ve read some horrific stories about what other women have gone through in treatment and recovery from this cancer. It doesn’t seem fair, somehow, that I had such a relatively easy time of it though my doctor assures me that my case isn’t unusual.
I don’t really know how long I had cancer. I had been experiencing post-menopausal spotting for over a year. I informed my menopause doctor and she adjusted the hormones I was taking.
Indeed, it could well have been just a hormonal issue in the beginning. Eventually, though, the spotting became more regular, never a lot, but always there. I got off the hormones, but the spotting continued. I discussed the problem with my doctor, who said it could be several things and I should get a sonogram “just to rule out cancer.”
I went the next morning and the results came back that same afternoon. Wow – that was fast! I read the report but didn’t understand it.
The doctor called and told me to get a biopsy next. I understood now – I had failed that first “test.” On Friday I met my new OB/GYN, Dr. D, and got the biopsy done. She told me the results would be ready by mid-week, but on Monday afternoon I got a call from her office. I couldn’t take it as I was about to give a training at work, but inside I thought “uh oh – I bet I failed that test, too.”
When I got home that evening, I saw that the clinic had sent me an e-mail. I expected to read something from Dr. D about the biopsy results and instead saw that my menopause doctor had written. She was sorry to hear about the cancer and hoped I would have a quick recovery. WHAT?! That was it. No details. She had falsely assumed that I had already spoken with Dr. D about the situation.
I wanted to talk to someone, but I’d have to wait until the next day to call the doctor. I contacted some friends, all of whom freaked out more than I had. The ‘c’ word packs a powerful punch.
The next day, Dr. D called (horrified that I had found out in such a way), gave me the details, and said that a gynaecological oncology office would call soon.
I had to wait a few weeks to see the oncologist; a good sign, I felt, that my condition wasn’t dire. By the end of the month, I had met with the oncologist, scheduled a surgery date, and informed colleagues, friends, and family.
Some reacted strongly, some were calm. Everyone said they’d help out during my medical leave. My daughter was away at college, but we stayed in touch frequently. My son, who lives locally, would move back in for the first week post-surgery.
Most of the time during this period, I was calm. I never experienced pain, just the continued spotting. In fact, my job had been so stressful for the past year and a half that I eagerly looked forward to a break. Sadly, my colleagues understood this all too well.
I am fortunate that I have short-term disability insurance with my company and qualified for full-pay leave up to twelve weeks (this is not a given in the USA) though the standard medical leave for this surgery is six weeks, which is what was approved. Some of my friends in other jobs would have to take leave with no salary if this had happened to them.
On June 25, I had laparoscopic surgery; the oncologist used the DaVinci robot to perform the hysterectomy. I was in the hospital for one night and then discharged with my five holes neatly bandaged. My friends carefully chauffeured me home, where my son was waiting for me.
Over the next weeks, I had many visitors, often bearing food. Once I could ride in a car again, some friends took me out. I read a lot, watched favorite shows, and slowly began to walk and regain my strength.
It’s been about three months since the surgery. Am I back to my post-surgery condition? Not entirely. I have no pain where the incision holes were, but my abdominal and back muscles are still weak. To my dismay, I’m going through a second menopause as my body readjusts to having no hormones at all now that my ovaries are gone.
I get to experience hot flashes, acne, and sleepless nights all over again. So unfair! But having cancer does give one a wake-up call. I’m working very hard on improving my diet and exercise habits.
I put my personal life before my work life much more easily now. I’ve taken a fresh look at what makes me happy and how I want to spend my time.
I’m buying flowers for myself every week, I’m reading much more, and trying to write my blogs more often (see below). I make a strong effort to stay in touch with friends, near and far. I’ve always been close to my son and daughter, both in their early 20s, and I’m even more motivated to stay healthy, so I can be around for them a long, long time.
Cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was for earlier generations, but it is still important to educate the public so that it is diagnosed and treated early. This is what motivates me to share my story. People often shy away from discussing cancer, but it’s only by bringing it out into the open that more people with cancer will be able to join the survivors’ club."
http://shoshwrites.wordpress.com/ (After the Fire)
http://shoshwrites2.wordpress.com/ (My Life in the Middle Lane)
http://shoshwrites3.wordpress.com/ (From Soccer Mom to Soccer Fan)