I appreciate each day that I wake up even more than before, and am so grateful for the amazing life, family, and friends that I have been blessed with.
My husband and I got married in 2021 and were enjoying being newlyweds. We also wanted to start a family since we were both in our mid to late thirties, so we had been trying to conceive for over a year but weren’t successful. We prayed that God would reveal to us why we were having such a difficult time, and then a few weeks later in November 2022 I was hospitalized with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. An ultrasound revealed that I had large cysts on both of my ovaries.
After a few more months of monitoring, additional ultrasounds and a CT scan, and bloodwork, my gynecological surgeon decided to remove the cysts but she felt confident that the solid component contained in one of them wasn’t cancer because my CA-125 blood test was only slightly elevated but if it was cancer she felt the number would have been much higher.
In April 2023, I had the cysts removed as well as endometriosis excision and ablation. Unfortunately, the surgery and pathology revealed that I had Stage IV endometriosis and the solid component was diagnosed as Stage IC Endometriod Adenocarcinoma.
I was very frustrated by my diagnosis because I had two sought out opinions from two OBGYNs in November 2018 about whether I had endometriosis because my periods were very heavy and painful, and I had started bleeding through my belly button when I was menstruating. They both told me there was nothing to be concerned about, and I just had dysmennhorea (heavy bleeding). So the fact that four years later I was diagnosed with the most advanced stage of endometriosis, and the cysts were endometriomas caused by endometriosis and one was malignant, was a very hard pill to swallow. I wished I had advocated more for myself years ago when I first suspected that I might have had endometriosis.
After I received the cancer diagnosis, the first oncologist that I was referred to said that by the book he would recommend a hysterectomy, but that would have taken away my hopes of being pregnant some day. I sought out two other opinions, and they both recommended that I remove the ovary that the cancerous cyst was on, the fallopian tube, lymph nodes in that area of my abdomen, and biopsy my omentum because that’s a common place for ovarian cancer to spread. Thankfully, the pathology came back completely clear from my second surgery, so for now that is the end of my treatment and I won’t have to do chemotherapy.
I am so grateful that I am healed, and it has led me to make a lot of lifestyle changes. I have been working with a nutritionist who recommended an anti-inflammatory diet, so I am now eating gluten free and have cut out most dairy products as well. I am also working on removing environmental toxins from my home and life as much as possible. After being too sedentary during the COVID-19 lockdown, working from home, and post two abdominal surgeries, I have started kickboxing classes three times per week and am already seeing great results after just a couple of weeks. I also have some amazing trips planned, and I am really looking forward to spending time with family and friends, adventuring outdoors, and meeting my husband’s family in Brazil for the first time.
We only have one life to live and we’ll never get today back again, so as my cousin Joel approached life before his was cut short while he was serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Go Big or Go Home! I hope that my story of beating cancer and remaining hopeful throughout the process while receiving difficult diagnoses, will inspire others who God forbid find themselves with a cancer diagnosis. Lean on your support network, you are not alone, and never lose hope that you too can be cancer free!
I no longer sweat the small stuff. I also feel like I appreciate the small moments more now and just see life through a more beautiful lens. My faith in there being so many good people in our world was restored!