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  • Writer's pictureSandy

You have Cancer…..

You’ve been assigned this mountain so you can show others it can be moved – Mel Robbins

I’ll try to remember what was going through my head when I heard those words. Actually, I wasn’t too surprised by the time I was given my official diagnosis. I already knew I had a large mass in my abdomen, so my mind had already traveled down that road; nevertheless, hearing the words left me numb. As I sat with my husband holding my hand, I’m pretty sure what came of out of my mouth was “well sh*t.”

With it being just past the date of May 8th, which is World Ovarian Cancer Day, I would like to spend some time talking about what my symptoms were. Women tend to explain away any ache or pain and will rarely take the time to get it checked out. As you may or may not know, I had no idea how sick I really was. Early detection is so important with Ovarian Cancer – any cancer really.

When I backtrack there is no doubt, I had all the classic symptoms. The only thing I can honestly say I didn’t have was pain. Discomfort, yes, but pain, no. Everything I was experiencing I thought was related to my age and menopause.

The reason I didn’t quite have a clear understanding of what I should be experiencing for my age/menopause is because I had a hysterectomy when I was 34. I had, at the time, a fibroid that was the size of a muskmelon that needed to be removed along with my uterus and possibly my ovaries. The day of the surgery the Dr. had said if my ovaries looked okay, he would leave them so I wouldn’t have to go on hormone replacement at such a young age. As you can guess, my ovaries were not removed.

So, I didn’t go into instant menopause, but because I no longer had my uterus things were always a little sketchy. I would be very hormonal, crabby, and couldn’t sync it with anything because I no longer had my period. It made for a fun time for me emotionally at times, and some symptoms seemed to increase as I aged. Symptoms like bloating and constipation and occasional emotional ups and downs.

After the removal of my tumor, I asked my Oncologist Gynecologist Dr. how long she thought the tumor had been there. Her eyes got big and said “Oh, it’s been there a while” and I thought, gosh how long had I ignored the signs?? And then she said “at least 3-4 months.” That brings me back to around the end of November 2018 time for maybe when this all started for me. That being said, that darn tumor grew really fast, enough to be on my ovaries and reach all the way to right below my diaphragm by March 2019. I thank God every day I went to the Dr. when I did or I could be facing the cancer metastasizing to other organs. That’s how fast and deadly Ovarian Cancer can be and IS.

Did I have bloating and gas? EVERY DAY! Did I have constipation? YES, so much that I was taking a stool softener almost 3 or 4 times a week or more (people, that isn’t normal and less you’ve been diagnosed by a professional and told to take a stool softener). Did I think I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome, YES! Did I think that it was possibly my diet that was causing me to feel so crappy, YES! Did I try to change my diet and still felt bloating and gas, YES! Could I feel something move in my lower pelvic region when I did Jumping Jacks, YES! Did I think things were just shifting down due to my hysterectomy and age, YES! Did my appetite decrease? YES! Did I start to lose weight, YES! (I had started at the beginning of the year to try to lose some weight, so at first, I thought what I was doing was working. But by the time of diagnosis, surgery, and the start of chemo I had lost 15+)

A few weeks before I finally went into the doctor we had ordered takeout pizza. That evening I woke in the middle of the night and felt nauseous. I ended up throwing up everything I ate. Something I rarely do, even when the throw-up flu is going around. Is this a sign, YES! I thought I had just had a touch of food poisoning. After that night my appetite decreased, but I thought I was finally having success with my diet!! If you can see the pattern here, I tried to explain away every symptom I had when my body was screaming at me that something was definitely going on.

If I can encourage anyone right now, it is to educate yourself on the signs and symptoms. Get to know them so you can act quickly and get it checked out. Ovarian Cancer was the farthest thing from my mind, I had hardly heard of anyone with this type of Cancer upon diagnosis. Since then I’ve realized it is happening far to often to all ages of women and not just once, the re-occurrence rate is 70-80%!

There is no 100% test to determine Ovarian Cancer. Right now, the two things that are used to diagnosis Ovarian Cancer are a blood test CA 125 and a pelvic exam. Both these are indicators and would usually be followed up with a CT or PET Scan for confirmation. I hope and pray that someday they will come up with a test that would 100% determine this Cancer and will continue to pray for a cure.

Please learn from me, if your body is trying to tell you something, LISTEN! Don’t miss those yearly health checkups, a pelvic exam could save your life. Share my story, the more we get the word out, we are one step closer to catching it early for the next person.

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Denise Louwagie
Denise Louwagie
May 12, 2020

What a brave young woman you are!! You "shouldered" so much -- know that your friends love you, pray for you, and are here to help carry that load! Thanks for being "the person" who explains all the symptoms so that many of us can catch this cancer in its early stages! And for all of us who have put off our physicals due to this Covid virus thing, its a great reminder to stay in tune with our bodies and with our doctors! XOXO

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