An Excerpt of Cat's story...
Once home from our trip to Spain, we started trying for a baby again, although nothing was happening. Then in December I was scheduled for my routine two-year pap smear.
As the GP was examining me she began pressing gently on my pelvis and it felt very tender down there. She looked up at me and said she could feel a definite swelling around my left ovary. She recommended immediate testing.
The following day I was lying on the sonographer’s table. She scanned me and then left the room. When she returned she brought a Doctor with her. They were both looking at my images and I tried desperately to read their puzzled expressions. What could they see? Tell Me! ...
The Doctor came and sat next to me and quietly explained that there was a ‘mass’ covering my left ovary and that they would need to find out what kind of mass it was. I was told that they would have more information for me later that day at the GP’s office.
I called my husband feeling concerned and anxious, yet in the back of my mind I really didn’t think I had anything wrong with me. He left work to be with me.
The GP explained to us that a 9cm mass was showing over my left ovary. She had discussed my scan with a gynaecologist/ oncologist who had concerns and he wanted to meet with me and book surgery within the week. My GP said that the next few days would feel strange and it would take time to get my head around what was happening.
I left the appointment feeling totally out of body, confused and numb.
The next few days were filled with testing, a full body scan and a number of blood tests. Before meeting with the oncologist my GP called and told me that scans on my chest and abdomen were clear and the mass was only showing on my pelvic region, so there was positive news – it hadn’t spread.
The day arrived and we went to the hospital to meet with the oncologist, in the waiting room I glanced around the walls which had statistics of women suffering with Ovarian and Cervical cancer and also the fatality rates, this was when the actual reality of why I was here started to sink in. Why anyone would have those statistics on a wall where frightened women and their partners waited is beyond me!
After an agonizing wait trying not to read the doom and gloom on the walls, I was finally called in to meet with the doctor. I felt nervous and was scared and he looked at me and said in his best clinical tone "So you know why you are here today?" It was more of a statement than a question, so I felt like I had to give him a good schoolgirl answer and said the required “Yes” Inside though I was in a whirlwind state of total confusion. It felt like my body had been taken somewhere else, was being led by everyone else, and I was just watching on powerlessly.
He then went on to ask me a horrible question. “Which is more important, your health or your fertility?”
I was lost for words. I looked at him and thought – “What!! Well obviously Both are important Dude!” The good girl in me though, took over and as my eyes hit the floor, I nervously said “Oh, of course.. my health has to be more important.”
The doctor then explained that he had reviewed my blood tests and that tumour markers were elevated. He then explained that due to tumour being the size of a grapefruit, I would require abdominal surgery to remove it.
He told me to be prepared for the worst case scenario. To clear the tumour he might have to complete a full hysterectomy and possibly take part of my bowel, intestine and spleen along with it.
I felt like the floor had just dropped out below me.
I wasn’t in my body anymore. Something had left just to cope. I couldn't process anything else he was saying to me. It was just sounds. My knees went weak and I fell to the ground.
I was taken to another room where there was a bed I could lie on, I was given some water and Harry held my hand tightly. He brought his forehead to mine and we had a big cry.
Ever the optimist, I said to him “Honey, if we can't have children naturally we could always adopt.” I didn't even think what this situation might mean for my health and life moving forward.
I took some breaths, and was finally able to stand up. The doctor said that I would need to sign the relevant paperwork in preparation for the surgery scheduled for the following day.
Everything from signing the paperwork and leaving the surgeons offices felt really surreal, it felt like everything I was doing was happening in slow motion. Once we got home, the fear flew in and I cried, we both cried. Harry tried his best to be strong for me but I could see from his pale frightened face that he was struggling terribly.
Many thoughts raced through my mind. “Will Harry be widowed? “If it’s ovarian cancer and I go through chemotherapy how will I cope? Who will care for me? Will my mum have to fly over from the UK?” I remembered too that I had to come back to feeling positive, to bring hope into this awful situation.
At the hospital the next morning, I had to have another blood test -CA125 which is a blood marker for ovarian cancer, I then made my way to admissions and there was more paperwork and finally I got taken through to prepare for theatre, I had the gown and cap on and I was ready to go. I just wanted to blank everything out.
Something shifted then. Something took over from the fear and I just had to let go, surrendered to the fact that I had no control over the situation and all I could do was see this turning out okay.
I just wanted the anaesthetic so I could go to sleep and forget what was happening. At least after surgery I could then deal with what was coming next but in this phase of not knowing, I needed to be away from it.
I was wheeled into theatre, the lights were bright, the surgeon and his team surrounded me with their masks on, the anaesthetic was administered and I started to count down from ten.
About 2 hours later I woke up in intensive care, the nurse told me the surgery went well but I didn't really know what that meant. I eventually got wheeled out of intensive care and taken to my room. I heard the tyres squeaking on the polished floors. On the way to my ward, there was Harry running up the corridor with a huge smile on his face. He beamed down at me and said "Have they told you?”
I looked up at him quizzically and he said “The tumour is benign! Everything is going to be fine my Love.” I was stunned, so relieved and grateful. Something amazing had just happened to me.
The doctor came in and told me he had carefully removed the tumour and my ovary was intact. The CA125 blood tests had come back positive but the tumour itself was benign. He felt the mass had been formed from endometriosis and this explained why it had been hard for me to fall pregnant.
This was news to me as I had never been diagnosed with endometriosis, however, looking back now, I did struggle with painful periods, gut issues and feeling fatigued although I thought it was the “normal” thing women went through monthly.
I stayed in hospital for 5 nights and left on my 34th birthday with a nice big scar running from my belly button down to my pubic bone.
For the next couple of months I focused on healing and being good to myself. It took time and as the days passed I grew stronger. I had a newfound joy in life. I just saw how everything I had was so good and the stupid little things that used to bother me just didn't matter anymore.
I also felt that if we were not fortunate to have children of our own, that we would be okay as we already had a great life together. I knew how loved I was. By late January I was fully healed and was feeling really good.
My mum called me in early February to say that my grandmother in the UK was very ill and that it would only be a number of days before she would pass. I wanted to go to them and so I booked my ticket for the next day. Harry would stay whilst I went over, so the two of us had a romantic evening together before I flew out.
I arrived in the UK and was told that I had just missed my grandmother as she had passed the day before.
A couple of days after the funeral I started to have pelvic cramps during the night, these cramps continued for the next couple of days and when my period was late, I took a pregnancy test.
I stood dumbfounded looking at the stick I had just peed on. I was pregnant!!!
I took two more tests just to make sure and then called Harry and he whooped with joy. As soon as I got back to Brisbane I visited my GP for a scan. She told me that the egg that made our baby appeared to have come from my left ovary, the side that had been operated on.
I was also given the date in which the baby was conceived, exactly the same day my Grandmother had passed...
An excerpt of Cat's story for "Made Beautiful by Scars" Book Two
Copyright Made Beautiful by Scars 2016