In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we will be sharing a three-part blog series that details the experience of an ovarian cancer survivor and Look Good Feel Better participant. Her name is Karen, and this is her story…
By Karen from Washington, DC
What a kick in the pants! Cancer! Who would have thought?
Have you experienced over a 12-week length of time:
- Exhaustion! or
- Frequent urination-
- Head ache –
- Infrequent lower back pain-
I had all these symptoms for more than two years on and off and I didn’t think of any of these as being connected or relevant. All women experience these “symptoms.” What is normal? What should you complain about? I was clueless.
Ovarian cancer is known as the whisperer disease and with good reason.
When asked by my gynecologist how I was, I groused about exhaustion, but I quickly stated that I thought that was probably due to stress. I didn’t want to complain or waste his time. I never thought the rest of the list – frequent urination, headaches, constipation and back pain were – were not normal.
A year later I was urinating so often I could not play four holes of golf without seeking a bathroom, got up during a Board meeting to relieve myself, and finally, I could not drive from my home – a half hour away from work- without bursting from the car to the restroom upon arrival. I wet myself one morning as I ran to the toilet; that was the wake-up call that got me back to my doctor’s office. To his credit, after sending me to get a sonogram and a CA 125 blood test, and actively listening to all that ailed me (inclu
ding my family history of cancer), he sent me to an oncology surgeon who specialized in gynecology.
Fast forward. I woke up in the ICU ward post-surgery with a pronouncement that I had stage 3 c Ovarian Cancer. Once discharged from the hospital, my next steps were to see an oncologist who would provide chemotherapy for 17 weeks. It was like falling through the rabbit’s hole in Alice In Wonderland. Everything was surreal. My chemotherapy resulted in total hair loss and exceedingly dry skin.
In a nutshell, I was totally in the dark about the new circumstance and very desirous of regaining my life before cancer. So I sought out resources to help me – live. Look Good Feel Better became one of my key ingredients to moving forward.
With a new wig and skin going downhill fast, I went to the Look Good Feel Better program feeling diminished and self-conscious. Cancer hits the body hard, and it also has a stunning and unexpected impact on one’s self esteem. The Look Good Feel Better program was my first non-medical step to healing. As an ovarian cancer survivor, that step energized my re-entry to grabbing my life back.
For information about ovarian cancer, please visit http://www.ovariancancer.org.
Stay tuned for the second of our three-part blog series…