Ten years ago, I lost an ovary when a “pre-cancerous” (the term the doctors used) cyst took over and killed it. I went into shock and came close to dying myself. I spent my twenties dealing with many struggles with inherited problems in the reproductive system (fibroids, endometriosis, chronic cysts), and then it all stopped after my daughter was born. I have two children now, despite the fact that my former doctors told me I would never be able to conceive. I’m grateful for my children.

Without going into gory details, I noticed in May that my system was behaving oddly. I participated in a fundraising walk for women’s cancers, and was given a pamphlet about cancer symptoms. I showed a friend and mentioned to her that I was experiencing many symptoms listed. It took me awhile to make my OBGYN appointment, but I finally went. My doctor put me on hormone therapy to see if it would help, and sent me for a full workup with my GP.

Everything seemed great at the GP exam, save for high triglycerides (but I later learned that could have been a direct result of my breakfast). Then a couple weeks ago I suddenly had excruciating pain and unexplained bleeding (which should not have been happening on the therapy) and I went to the doctor and had a sonogram – which revealed a large cyst on my one remaining ovary. The doctor said it was not a clear cyst, and showed me where it appeared marbled. She changed my hormone therapy a bit to see if that would fix things. So far, I am still having trouble not only with that but with some other difficulties, including severe, overwhelming fatigue.

It is very tough for me to not be able to walk my daughter to preschool. I am used to at least an hour of exercize a day – usually two hours. Now I get winded going downstairs to the kitchen. I am feeling very useless because I can barely keep up with my normal routine, and I feel like I am letting my kids down.

In addition to these worries, my mother is having a biopsy tomorrow for a large, abnormal mass in her breast. Her doctors already feel that this is not behaving like a benign cyst. I’m very worried, and I wish that i could be with my mom to help her out, but I can’t even vacuum my own bedroom right now.

It is weird, because, beyond these things, I am perfectly happy and content with my life. I am still taking time to laugh and enjoy the good things. I still read stories to my kids and play games. My husband and I even went out for an anniversary dinner last night (we had to drive instead of taking the subway). So if someone were to just say “How is your life?”I would say “It rocks!” but it amazes me how much a little disruption in my health is seriously shaking up my daily routine. I’m keeping my chin up, knowing that I have a good doctor and that we are on this situation (I go back on Monday for another sonogram, and will be scheduling surgery if the cyst is not gone) and that this shall pass and I will have my days returned to normal soon.

Jenifer, 33, New York , USA

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