Shortly after I returned dwelling after celebrating my fiftieth birthday with a trip in Mexico with my buddy Rob, I developed a fever, belly ache, and bloating together with nausea.
It was March 2020, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I knew there was a risk I could be contaminated with the virus. I additionally thought I may need caught one thing in Mexico, or had meals poisoning. The belly ache got here in waves and was intense, so I used to be very uncomfortable.
The ache, fever, and swelling have been extreme sufficient that I may inform one thing was flawed sufficient to warrant analysis. Nonetheless, I can see how simple it could be to document signs for journey and never search care.
As a substitute, I listened to my physique. I went to the emergency division at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Heart, the place the crew did a CT scan and located a blood clot in my spleen and a few swelling in my intestines, in order that they admitted me to the hospital.
As a result of the diagnostic outcomes got here again throughout and after my hospitalization, there was nothing that would clarify why I had the blood clot. Then in Could and June 2020, I had two episodes of postmenopausal bleeding. This was uncommon.
My hematologist and medical oncologist, Loretta Garretson, MD, a gynecologist, needed me to have a transvaginal ultrasound. I had a historical past of a 3 to 4 cm ovarian cyst, which is widespread in ladies and might be fully benign.
There was nothing else out of the abnormal besides that the cyst had grown barely to 4 to 5 centimeters. Dr. Garretson needed me to repeat this take a look at in six weeks, which I did in August 2020.
My follow-up care confirmed no trigger for the blood clot or uncommon signs, however from my coaching in oncology, I knew that most cancers places individuals at elevated threat for clots.
When my hematology checks have been basically unfavorable, Dr. Garretson and I had suspicions that one thing was brewing, she needed to stay vigilant and discover the underlying trigger of those points.
She watched me with an instinctive feeling that paid off.
On the Saturday after my second transvaginal ultrasound, I checked out my medical portal and noticed the phrases “suspected tumor” in relation to my proper ovary. That was the primary second I stated, “Oh, no.”
I used to be dwelling with Rob on the time and skim it to him. We sat speechless for some time as we gathered our ideas. “Dr. Garretson’s intestine was proper.” I advised Rob.
Shock got here first, adopted by some anger. Then the concern changed into motion once I began the appointment planning course of.
I made an appointment with a gynecologic oncology surgeon, Robin Wilson Smith, with whom I labored as a breast oncology nurse for sufferers. I knew she would handle this for me as I’ve seen her do for thus many different individuals.
Arranging my care appointments was first. Then I felt that “get out as shortly as doable” feeling that anybody who has handled a suspected or identified most cancers feels.
I knew I did not want my genitals anymore, so I would get out. Then I will get the last word pathology and the inside track on this hidden invader of my physique.
As soon as I used to be scheduled for robotic gynecological surgical procedure to take away my ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix, I used to be in good condition. I believed this might be my first step to solutions. I knew my care crew was prepared and I used to be able to get issues began.
However first, I needed to repair my household. I advised them that this isn’t a loss of life sentence and that we have to suppose constructive ideas. Whoever thinks in any other case ought to maintain it to himself and avoid me.
All of them stored it constructive and I could not have finished it with out them. They acted on my reactions and adopted my indicators.
I keep in mind Dr. Wilson Smith telling me that I had stage IIB ovarian most cancers, and that based mostly on the lab outcomes, I’d have quickly developed uterine most cancers if I hadn’t had surgical procedure.
After surgical procedure, I acquired chemotherapy on the Most cancers Care Institute, the place I turned extra accustomed to being a part of the care crew. Now my teammates have been taking good care of me.
I’ve continued to rejoice our sufferers’ tales of survival, and to expertise and share lots of my very own. I attended my daughter’s marriage ceremony. I’ve welcomed a grandson. This 12 months, Rob and I received married.
My expertise has bolstered what I’ve lengthy identified and stated: Life is brief, so stay every day to the fullest, there’s at all times somebody worse off and somebody higher off, and all of the concern would not change the result.
I’ve additionally developed a stronger sense that as human beings all of us have weaknesses in life. I got here away a extra compassionate, type, affected person, and understanding individual and nurse
These little issues I used to deal with, I do not care about them anymore and my household is aware of it.
I inform all my sufferers and the individuals I discuss to: know your physique. Have annual physicals along with your main care supplier, gynecologist, and different specialists. Ensure you get all of the work and lab checks based mostly in your age and threat.
If one thing would not appear proper, test it out, do not ignore it, particularly if it will get worse, progresses, or is painful. Prevention, early detection and remedy are extraordinarily essential with regards to most cancers and different ailments.
Going to the hospital and having a intestine feeling with my physician saved my life, which is why I can share my ovarian most cancers survival story throughout Ovarian Most cancers Consciousness Month — and day by day.
Eve Spiegel, RN, is a breast nurse at AtlantiCare. She is sharing her story to assist Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
All opinions expressed on this article are the writer’s personal.
As advised to Monica Greb, assistant editor of Newsweek’s My Flip journal.
Do you have got a novel expertise or private story that you simply wish to share? E mail the My Flip crew at email@example.com.