I’ve always loved scary stories–reading Poe late at night, watching true life murder documentaries and movies about ghosts and demons, living vicariously through the book and the TV, secure in the fact that nothing would ever–could ever– disturb my peaceful and boring life.
Fear never really scared me.
Until this year.
In January, I trotted into my friendly neighborhood doctor’s office for what I thought was going to be a regular checkup. I’m healthy as a horse and always have been. I exercise, eat pretty well, don’t have any preexisting conditions, don’t take any medicine for anything. The worst complaint I had was a little indigestion and some bloating. Probably bad food choices—I do love me some sausage and chili and whisky. So I’d have to take more care with my diet, get out of my bad habits. Just needed to be told.
Not many doctors in my little community. I go to a nurse practitioner because I like her and it’s a long drive to get to an MD who is likely to be male and annoying. So Nurse Sue is my gal.
She narrowed her eyes when I told her my symptoms, listened to my rationalizations about questionable soup and Christmas ham and then she gave me a blood test. She included a CA 125, which is a test that is sometimes used to detect tumors, because—and I only halfway listened when she said this—bloating is one of the few symptoms of ovarian cancer.
A few days later she called me. I can’t pretend I saw it coming—not even a little bit. The normal result for a CA 125 is below 35. Mine was over 700.
“The chances are you have ovarian cancer,” she said. “You’ll probably need a hysterectomy.”
I was terrified. I checked the in-network doctors and grabbed the first one I came to. That choice was guided by a higher power. We bonded during the ultrasound. She took one look at the mish-mash of my insides and hauled her phone out of her pocket.
“I know just the guy. He’s the best.”
And in 5 minutes I had an appointment with a specialist in St. Louis. A few days later, he gave me a quick but thorough outline of what was coming. Surgery happened the following Monday. I didn’t have time to think about it which is fortunate.
Less than one week after the diagnosis, surgery was over and I had the full story.
Stage 3 endometrial cancer with a side order of stage 1 ovarian cancer. The endometrial cancer had spread to a couple of other organs as well, which made the surgery an adventure.
Long story short–This excellent doctor snipped and sliced until he was satisfied he’d gotten all the nastiness out. After blood tests, CT scans, and 6 sessions of chemotherapy, all results are normal. I have one more hurdle to overcome at the end of July when I’ll have yet another CT scan to make certain all is well. After that, I may be off the hook for a few months.
I’m so very lucky!
Do me a favor– take a quick assessment of your body. I was a little bloaty—kind of like before a period but nothing more dramatic than that. I had a little pain in my side which could have been gas from that chili.
If Nurse Sue’s ears hadn’t pricked up when I told her these silly things, I’d be in a different situation right now. If the two doctors who didn’t know me from Adam’s off ox hadn’t had a firm understanding of their onions, I wouldn’t be able to look forward to my granddaughter’s first real words and her first day at school.
But for a very narrow set of circumstances happening in a very particular way, I wouldn’t be blithely trotting out witticisms and advice. Listen to your body and act accordingly. Hie thee to a physician!
If you’ve been in similar straits, I would love to hear your experience. Post in comments or DM me on any social media. Every survival story helps others who are struggling–me included. If you need a boost during a difficult time, I’m here.
I’m slowly getting back into those things I love.
Here are upcoming events:
I’ll be scheduling free author promos in Novel Magic soon. Join my mailing list to get the first chance at a spot.
The last Zoraida Grey book, Zoraida Grey and the Pictish Runes, will be out in October. I’m going Indie on this one which is quite a trip.
Three new murder mysteries are in the offing. All the Pretty Knives, Birds of a Feather, and Corked should be out in 2021.
Thanks for stopping by! See you next week!