May 1, 2007 was a day that changed my life forever. I had surgery to remove an 8lb cyst that was attached to my right ovary. That morning my doctor said if cancer is suspected, he would proceed with a full hysterectomy. I thought my chances of it being nothing were good because 3 weeks earlier my CA125 was perfectly normal. This test is a cancer marker, what I didn’t know is that if the cancer is totally contained within the ovary the test won’t show any cancer.
Needless to say I had a full hysterectomy. On May 5th, my doctor asked if I wanted the good news or bad news first. I already resigned myself that I had Ovarian Cancer. So I said I have Ovarian Cancer that’s the bad news. The good news is that it was Stage 1A. The percent of women diagnosed with that stage is only 20 %. The cure rate 95%.
I felt like I won the lottery! Well not so fast; I had Stage 1A, but my grade was a 3 which is a very aggressive growing cancer cell. Two weeks later, I meet Dr. Diggikar my Oncologist who told me it’s Stage 1A, but since the grade is a 3, I needed chemo. I’m a pretty tough girl. I grew up with 3 brothers so I had to hold my own as the only girl, but nothing prepares you for the challenge of cancer.
In my first chemo session, I heard a women screaming at the top of her lungs. I was told she was receiving a blood cell booster shot. I thought, what the heck, a shot that hurts that bad?! Let me rethink this. It scared the heck out of me.
I have to say I have always been a happy person so I chose to keep a smile on my face. I want to face this with a positive attitude. People would ask me how can I be so positive? My answer, I can’t go back and change it. I can only fight it and I need all my energy to do fight. I’m not going to let negativity get in my way.
Through 6 months of pure torture, all the pricks, pokes, hair loss, bone pain, neuropathy and exhaustion I kept that smile on my face. Humor got me through a lot of it. I also got through it by doing nice things for other cancer patients. There seemed to be someone always more worse off than me. Other cancer patients would make comments on how much they loved my hats. The next time I came to chemo, I brought everyone a hat like mine.
Well this month is my 8 year anniversary of being Cancer free! I try not to think about it but I’d be lying if I said that every ache or pain, makes me fear the cancer is back. I try to live my life on a positive note. I choose to wake up every morning thanking God that I’m here another day to enjoy my kids, and my two precious grandkids Max and Madeline.
I’ve met some incredible people on my journey. I truly believe that God puts people in your path for a reason. I met Mark David and as he told me about Laura. I told him I was an Ovarian Cancer Survivor. His story moved me.
Jan Christian will be travelling to Milwaukee to join us at this year’s Laura’s Smile Mile to share her story.