a big hello to all of “melissas” readers!
ok….first of all….ive known “melissa” since junior high or high school…..and she was MISSY back then. and to me…she still is! yeah…we met when we were in a gym class together. i dont think you could have found two more people as “gym defective” as us. we haaaated gym! i cant believe i didnt fail. either way…..we made it thru. we even paired up to do a required aerobic routine. im sure we sucked, but im also fairly certain that we at least looked cute in our 80’s leg warmers/leotard/headband gear. as another side note….i was the “good girl” to missys “bad girl”, and i was the only friend that her parents liked her to go out with. they were smart. i was pretty goody-goody. (but for the record…i wasnt boring!)
anyway….i feel like a pseudo-celeb; in having the honor to be a guest on missys blog! and i wasnt a cordial guest either. i actually invited myself. but in all seriousness….im completely blown away by missys blog, and her writitng skills. not only does she have the most perfect skin in the world, but shes got such a talent when it comes to expressing her thoughts. so yes…i really DO feel it is an honor to be here. i have a blog too. it’s called lori-ments
check it out! tho i do have to admit…im kind of a “blog idiot”. i have NO clue what missy is talking about with all of the politics, and small fish vs big fish bloggers, etc. all i know…is that i write…and i really dont care if anyone even reads it. except for this post. because what i have to say is important, and affects the same genre of people who read missys blog. so here it goes.
september is ovarian cancer awareness month. i have stage 4 ovarian cancer. and the reason why my story is important; is because in a lot of ways….im the case of someone who isnt at risk for this, and at the same time; i absolutely am.
i was 36 when i was diagnosed. not the age when most people get ovarian cancer. i was also pregnant. and with all of the ultrasounds….cancer never showed up. after i had my beautiful baby boy….i knew something wrong. i felt a weird pressure low in my abdomen. and when i would breathe in…i felt a pressure in my ribs. i demanded urinary infection tests. i asked for a pap smear. i had an ultrasound. i was told, that basically i just had a baby, and of course i have pressures. but i knew. i cant tell you exactly how i knew…but i just did. i specifically remember saying to my mom, “i know they tell me this is normal…but im telling you…..something is wrong!” i dont blame my doctor. he did every test i asked for. his logic made sense. i did just have an 8 1/2 pound baby. it does take a toll on the body. he had no reason to suspect cancer. until the pap smear came back and it was positive. still…ovarian cancer wasnt a suspicion. statistics show that ovarian cancer doesnt show up on pap smears. its usually cervical which shows up on paps. its usually pre-cancerous, and its usually very treatable if caught early. i had a cat scan. it came back clear. everyone was a little baffled. there is a simple blood test called a ca-125. if its elevated, it could be a sign of cancer. normal is 35 and under. mine was 350. i went in for surgery, and they found cancer spread all over. i was debulked, with the majority of the cancer being in my diaphragm. that is what was causing the pressure when i breathed in deeply. needless to say…when i woke up from the very long surgery….i was in shock. my family was in shock. we were all devastated. and i had an 8 week old baby waiting for his mommie at home.
with all of the reasons to believe i wasnt a candidate for cancer, there was one really good reason why i was. heredity! i always knew my family background of cancer; as many of my relatives succumbed to the disease. my aunt was only 30 when she lost her fight with breast cancer. knowing this history, i was very proactive in my health care. i fought with doctors and health insurance companies to get mammograms starting at age 30. they didnt see the need for this until i was 40. instead of being praised for being aggressive with my desire to stay healthy; i was berated. i still insisted on it tho. and i point this out, because YOU should be your own advocate for YOUR health, and not rely on doctors and insurance companies alone. regardless of the fancy degrees…they DO NOT know everything! trust YOUR instincts! and please….dont even get me started on the insurance companies!!!!
i didnt know about this until after the after the whole ordeal; but there is a certain genetic mutation which puts a person at a higher risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer. its called the BRCA mutation. ashkenazi jews are especially at risk, tho i know many non-jews who have the gene too. this mutation puts women at risk of getting breast cancer by the age of 70; up to 87%, and the risk of ovarian cancer up to 44%. i tested positive for the BRCA1 mutation. we were so happy when my mother tested negative, as it affects women more than men. but it DOES affect men, and lo and behold….just a few months ago; my father was diagnosed with a rare cancer; most likely due to his BRCA1+ status. i do not suggest that everybody panic and run out to get genetic testing tomorrow…BUT…i DO want you to be AWARE of it and have knowledge about it. not to sound cliche…but knowledge truly IS power.
its 4 1/2 years later, and im still in treatment. ive been in some sort of treatment since the beginning; but i dont complain. medicine is changing DAILY. and because of my BRCA+ status, there are different drugs to use, and there are more on the way. im here! i still have a long road ahead of me, but i intend on continuing down that road. it hasnt always been easy. at the same time, ive been fortunate to be ale to live a normal life. my family is amazing. my husband is literally my anchor. my friends give me the utmost support. and my son, who is the absolute center of my whole being…. is now 4 1/2. i wasnt sure id be around to watch him crawl…let alone all of the joyous things we have since shared. of course its not enough. i have a lot more i need to experience with him!
i feel that it is my duty to educate women about this topic. therefore, i am including this info. please take the time to read it.
any friend of missys is a friend of mine. therefore…i end this post by telling you, that as my “friend”, i wish you all happiness, love and health!
National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
The color of ovarian cancer is teal.
Though it has been called the “silent cancer”, it really isn’t, being as there are a number of symptoms. many times, the symptoms are vague enough to be misdiagnosed, as there are MANY reasons why a woman can have any of these symptoms.
The following are the symptoms:
Pelvic or abdominal pain
Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
Additional symptoms may include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation or diarrhea and menstrual irregularities, although these symptoms are found equally in women without the disease.
See your doctor, preferably a gynecologist, if you have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks. Experts suggest a combination pelvic/rectal exam, a transvaginal ultrasound and a CA-125 blood test.
Women OF ANY age are at risk
increasing age raises risk
personal or family history of breast, colon, or ovarian cancer
Never been pregnant or given birth
Occurs in 1 in 69 women
Early detection improves survival rates
There is no test. A Pap smear ONLY detects cervical cancer.
Causes symptoms even in early stages
According to the American Cancer Society, 22,000 women will be diagnosed in the next year, and 15,000 of them will die. That statistic has not changed in 30 years since the American Cancer Society declared war on cancer.
This is why it is so very important to reach as many women as we can to educate them and make them aware of this deadly disease.
for more info: the website of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance