A Chance To Be Brave

The plan had been for me to blog about my travels and experiences from my trip to SE Asia this winter. I had hoped to spend time elaborating on my stories and adding some fun photos. I did make one entry after my trip here, and of course my Sunday Specials. I had wanted to write more yet I did not. It was not due to lack of time or content that is certain. It’s that the last little while has been trying, scary and had me deep in thought. Five days after I returned to Vancouver I ended up in the Emergency department of the hospital. I had unexplained and severe abdominal pain for over two hours before I realized it was not going away. So I called a cab (yes a cab when an ambulance might have been smarter but…) and was admitted immediately. Ends up I had an orange-sized mass on my left ovary that had either ruptured or twisted thus causing the worst pain I have ever felt. After two days and numerous diagnostic imaging tests I was told that this endometrial mass contained a tumour. That meant it might be malignant. They were uncertain and a biopsy was not an option (due to a high risk of rupture). Yet it also meant that it might be benign. It was actually good that this happened as the mass may never have been found otherwise.  The plan was to have it removed surgically and should it be malignant then the next step would happen. So in the meantime I had to wait for the diagnosis until surgery day – six weeks from emergency admittance to surgery day. Why the wait? They did not know for certain and everything was contained within the mass so they hoped for the best and scheduled my surgery based on that. If it the doctors new for certain it was cancer my surgery would have been the next day.

That gave me time to work a bit, tell friends, visit my folks, and try to process the whole situation. Cancer is one of the scariest words. Ever. Evening thinking that I may have been victim to ovarian cancer was tear inducing. I like my ovaries. I wanted to keep them. Thoughts of chemo or radiation was debilitating. Also having to endure surgical menopause was an idea I could not entertain. So I did what I knew best – avoidance. I did that in the form of not talking about the possibility of cancer as much as possible. I aimed to focus on the positives I was told. I had to, especially when talking to others about it. I gave it my best to look at the best case scenario. I would cry if I didn’t. Naturally it was not all positive outlooks and I was sad at times, worried. Though I held my own okay. I even had some fun times with friends and family. I surprised myself. I was anxious as the date for my surgery grew near and concerned how it would go.  A few freak outs and some bad dreams. Oh the dreams were awful, simply awful.  Yet throughout this wait I was wanting more than anything to have it dealt with and a diagnosis, preferably a positive one.

Finally the morning of my surgery arrived. Doctors and nurses asking questions, reviewing my chart and my best friend standing by quietly supporting me. I remember cool air in the surgery room and seeing the stark light about me as I lay on the table, feeling rather nervous. Then the anesthesiologist placing an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose. Then nothing until I awoke in the recovery room. My mouth was very dry, I asked for water and was given a small ice chip. The nurses doted on me. I was aware but still a bit groggy, anxious to hear the results. I slept some more. I was soon moved. I hear the news.

I cried a bit.

Simultaneously the most unflattering and best photo of myself. Just received the good news (and dopey).

Then I smiled and felt immense relief. The mass, the tumour was benign. BENIGN! The sweetest word I have ever heard! I am so freaking lucky! So lucky. I honestly am so fortunate to have had such great news. Even my oncologist wrote in her report “This is excellent news!!!”. Since that surgery 6 weeks ago I returned to work as of last week (thanks to my sis for her help in caring for me) and have been fully discharged from the BC Cancer Agency. And my surgical scar is my reminder that I am so very fortunate. For anyone who has or has had cancer, you are incredibly brave and strong. I have no idea how I would have dealt if I had had another diagnosis.

So now what? I certainly have had time to think about a number of things. Some I share, others are privy only to my mind. Changes may come about and still things will remain the same. I am thinking continually now of so many things in our world and my life. The constant (at least I hope) is gratitude and of course travel. 

“When life gives you something that makes you feel afraid that’s when life gives you a chance to be brave.” Lupytha Hermin

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