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  • Becky

If only the hair on my head grew like the hair on my face...

A year has come and gone since the day I sat in my gynecologist office with my oldest daughter seated next to me. The physicians words still burned in my mind like nails on a chalk board. "Your blood work is in and those results combined with the size of the cysts leaves us to believe you have ovarian cancer." The odds are 60/40 leaning more towards cancer. Great bedside manner. I felt my eyes begin to swell as I choked on my own words. Trying to keep things lighthearted I turned to humor as I often do. “Do you suppose they could do a tummy tuck while they're in there? No dice. Damn. I left the clinic with instructions to wait for a call from the Cancer Center in Madison. Wait? I could have cancer and you want me to wait? That entire night I was in shock. Was this happening? I was 37 years old...I began to feel emotions similar to when I was first diagnosed with Chiari. (Panic and fear). Good thing my last will and testament was already completed. I kept asking myself why does my body want so badly to fail me?!? I guess all those years of caffeine and fried food were finally catching up to me.

One thing everyone failed to talk about in the midst of the surgical plans was the dreaded menopause.

What seemed like an eternity passed and I was able to schedule an appointment to see the surgeon. Driving to the hospital and walking into the cancer center for the surgical consultation was by far one of the top five scariest moments in my life. My surgeon was a brilliant and amazing woman. We developed a plan. She used the words, "Exploratory Laparotomy" and "biopsy" like they were no big deal. She to refused to do the tummy tuck... rude! What I was able to comprehend leaving the appointment was depending on the results of the rapid freeze biopsy which would be done in the operating room, they would either do a complete hysterectomy and remove all lady bits up to the fat pad below my chest, or just remove what was needed. "Women who have their ovaries live longer," uh yeah, then I'd like to keep those if I can. I was given instructions to stop some medications and additional tests were ordered. Upper endoscopy, CT scans of my abdomen, chest x-rays and blood work, lots of blood work. I spent countless hours on the phone with insurance to get approval for procedures. Because that is exactly what anyone told they may have cancer wants to deal with.

My surgery was May 17, 2018, I spent every possible minute the day prior with my children. they were terrified but didn't want to show it. To this day my youngest doesn't like to go into a certain store in the mall because we went there that day and it reminds her of all she was feeling. Heartbreaking, especially since I like that store. Kissing my children goodnight and laying out little notes for each of them to find in the morning...telling them I love them and everything would be fine. Assuring them there was nothing to worry about and requesting they please not kill one another while I am gone. Wishful thinking that in a time of distress my kids could pretend to love one another....never going to happen.

Don't let the smiles fool you!

My parents and my husband were with me before surgery. I cracked some jokes and made sure the anesthesiologist was aware of my Chiari. He said not to worry, but of course, its what I do best. I spent the whole night overthinking what could go wrong. I remember google searching the statistics for people who have woke from anesthesia in the middle of an operation. Don't google that before surgery, take my word and just don't. I recall being wheeled into the operating room while lying in the hospital bed, wearing a sheet of paper that inflated to keep me warm. Weird. It all happened so fast. Once in the operating room, Id see one face zoom past, then another. The room looked nothing like the O.R's on Grey's Anatomy. There was no McDreamy in the room either. Bummer. I was told to picture myself on the beach just prior to having the mask placed over my face. I looked to the anesthesiologist and asked that he make sure I wake up,“after they were done,” and then it was lights out.

Waking up was the worst part of the whole ordeal. I am pretty tough and I like to think my pain tolerance is quite high. But this wasn't normal pain. This was my body had been opened and taken apart and I am not sure you put it back together kind of pain. I would feel the pain, cry, maybe even scream, and then I would be back out again. This happened on and off for some time. I heard the words complete hysterectomy and I recall thinking, “cancer,” then I was out again. The recovery nurse called my husband to get consent for a nerve block. She must have been tired of all the fuss I was making. He consented...thank God! Best decision he ever made, aside from marrying me. I was wheeled into my room where I continued to be in and out of it for awhile. My family was there, my sister was crying, my surgeon came in and she gave the news. "No cancer, but you had a complete hysterectomy." Damn. She said I had a complicated surgery due to extreme endometriosis. She said I would be fine and to take it to easy. Given my current state, I had no intentions of doing anything but to take it easy.

"Battle Scars"

One year later, the physical recovery is taking shape. I wont be in a bikini anytime soon and this menopause crap can take a flying leap, but other than that, who doesn't love some night sweats and mood swings. It definitely keeps things interesting around the house. I'm still learning to manage. I'm growing accustomed to having less hair on my head and more hair on my face and trying to combat the lack of hormones in my body as hormone replacement therapy will increase the risks of a future blood clot. One was enough for me. I’m trying to think positive about all of these changes my body is experiencing. I mean come on, I now get to wear white any day I want.

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