As far back as I can remember I had longed, above all else, to one day be a mother……
Buckle your seatbelts. This is going to be a lengthy post.
My husband Rob and myself tried for a few years to start a family, with no success. My body had been giving me clues that things were not right for a long time and things just kept getting worse. I had a doctor who was not very sensitive to these things and treated me like just another overly emotional woman desperate to get pregnant. I voiced my concerns that something besides infertility was wrong but was brushed off. I had started to wonder if I was crazy but I simply could not ignore what was going on with my body. Finally, a friend I had met through work mentioned a doctor who might listen to me and get to the bottom of my issues.
I went to my new doctor in January of 2015. My friend was right. This doctor did listen. She ran tests and quickly formulated a plan to find out what was wrong and hopefully help me get pregnant. My blood tests all came back normal and I was relieved. After about 3 months my body didn’t seem to be responding as it should. The doctor suggested I try it a little longer to see if my body would adjust, but it didn’t happen. I had a feeling that something was terribly wrong. I was getting scared and felt terrible all the time. My body was turning against me. By June I called the doctor and made another appointment. I could not get in until July. During youth camp, in June, I cried a lot during the night services. My energy level was low, I was worried and I was depressed. I didn’t tell anyone, but I had this fear that I was dying. I remember during worship one night I had prayed to God giving it to Him and saying that no matter what I would praise Him until my last breath…. Things were about to get real…..
On July 6 I went to my appointment. The doctor seemed confident that everything was fine but scheduled me for an ultrasound, just to be safe. After the ultrasound, I was very emotional. Something about the demeanor of the ultrasound tech gave me the feeling that she had found something. My husband was out of town on a day camping trip with our youth boys and was unreachable. I called my mom, and she calmed me down. I waited for the results while the walls of my home seemed to close in on me. Within a couple of hours I got the call. I could tell in her voice that I was not going to like what I was about to hear. My doctor began to tell me that I had a lot of fibroids; one was the size of a grapefruit. She stated that it would be very hard if not impossible for me to ever conceive. That was blow number one. I started to cry. Then she went further. She said that there was another grapefruit sized growth near my ovary. This growth was different from the others. She said it could be a dying fibroid or it could possibly be cancer……. blow number two. She was immediately referring me to an oncologist. I needed to have an MRI the same week. I could not stop the tears. I felt as if I couldn’t breath. In one phone conversation my two worst life-long fears had been realized. I will never be a mother…. barrenness….. AND I may have cancer.
I was overcome by fear and heartbreak. I felt as if my chest could not expand to breathe. I cried out in loud earth shattering sobs. Those walls that had been closing in were now falling on top of me. All I knew to do was pray. I cried out to God not understanding why I was facing all of this. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that not just one but two of my worst nightmares had materialized in my world. I prayed for strength because I knew I couldn’t handle this on my own. I also had a large group of teenage girls coming to my house for a sleepover in a matter of hours…. I couldn’t let them see me falling apart.
I did make it through that afternoon and the sleepover. There were LOTS of tears in the days and weeks to come. I had my appointment with the oncologist and immediately felt at peace with his handling my case. He looked over my films and decided that I needed surgery ASAP. He wasn’t sure what the growth was without removing it for testing. I went into the hospital for what should have been a two hour surgery. At the two hour mark the doctor called for my husband. Things were worse than he had expected. My uterus was so covered in calcified fibroids that he couldn’t see it. Oh, and that suspicious, grapefruit sized growth was actually my right ovary. My fallopian tubes were completely blocked. He told my husband that if I had ever become pregnant, it was likely that both myself and my child would have died from a uterine rupture and he was suspecting ovarian cancer. Then came the tough part….. he said he thought I needed a full hysterectomy but my husband had to make the call whether to go ahead or not. I cannot imagine how he felt, such a horrible decision to make. My heart breaks every time I think about him being put in that position. He took some time to speak to my Mother for support and then had to make the call to go ahead with the hysterectomy. My entire reproductive system, appendix and surrounding lymph nodes were all removed and sent to the lab. Two additional hours and 36 staples later I woke up in recovery. My oncologist immediately walked over to check on me. The first thing I said was, “how far did we have to go?”. He told me that I had had a total hysterectomy and a few other details. Remarkably, I remember all of this.
There are a few moments from that day that will forever be with me. The feeling of fear I had when my husband had to let go of my hand as I went past the point of no return and saying to God “ok, it’s just me and You now”, tears streaming down my face as I shifted myself onto the operating table uncertain of what I would wake up to. These memories still bring tears to my eyes, but there’s more than this….. Just as vividly I remember the feeling of peace that washed over me as I accepted the outcome that the doctor was explaining to me and drifted back off to sleep. Don’t get me wrong, there were times during the next days, weeks and even still that I have shed tears of mourning. My dreams had been shattered, but I was somehow able to see that God was taking those shattered pieces and creating a new dream for me.
After an eleven day stay in the hospital because of complications, I went home to wait for pathology results. The report was that I had a rare form of ovarian cancer in stage 2C. It was just at the point before it would have started spreading. The cancer had been contained to my ovaries and the doctor is confident that I am now cancer free. I am under the care of my oncologist for observation for the next 5 years, but I am alive.
I’ll stop here for now. There is more to come.