The other morning I was getting ready for work and a beautiful blog post poured itself out in my mind. Ever have that happen? You think of something that sounds amazing in your head and when you go to write it down it's gone? Not just bits and pieces but every word - from the first to last - is just... gone. That's what happened with this post.
It was a brilliant post, on how September 1 is just one week away and with it comes Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It was full of beautiful words about the woman who was - and still very much is - so very important to me and my life and who was robbed of her old age by a disease that should not have won. At least not according to the doctors...
However. There is a however. And since all of beautiful, eloquent words are gone, you get this:
It did rob her of her old age. I know - it was with God's permission and it was time for her to go home to Him but - ovarian cancer arrived in our lives, loud, permeating and overbearing and before we felt like we had blinked, disappeared with my mother. She was so beautiful. So kind, loving, generous, caring, gentle, quiet, giving, compassionate.... Oh the adjectives could go on forever.
However. (It seems to be a however kind of day...)
What I want to talk about here is ovarian cancer and I probably can't do that without lacing my mother through the sentences but as I try to post more over the next month, I want to start with this:
Most women, once diagnosed with ovarian cancer, do not survive the disease. There is no annual test, no blood test that can be done. Most of the time, women have symptoms for months and they don't think too much about it except that they have been, perhaps, more uncomfortable than usual.
For seven years before she was diagnosed, my mother went to doctor after doctor trying to figure out why her stomach was bloated and causing her so much pain. They could find nothing. Now - 7 years is a long time and I have yet to find someone who doesn't hesitantly say there is no way her disease would have been that quiet for so long but...they don't come right out and immediately say no. They get a little nervous. So - it just seems to me (and this is opinion right now - NOT scientific fact!) that they really don't know anywhere near enough about ovarian cancer. They can't say no - it wasn't growing for that long, that it started slow and something, perhaps a hormonal change as my mother aged, kicked it into high gear... They can't say.
What they can say is what I started to say - the symptoms are often small, seemingly insignificant. Gas, bloated stomach, discomfort in the abdominal area, nausea... Things you might dismiss because you're tired or it's flu season, or you ate Mexican last night. But then you start to realize that you're gassy even though you haven't had Mexican food in two weeks and maybe this stomach ache isn't going to go away if you just get a good night's sleep...
I will start, before September by saying this - LISTEN to your body. Sit down, pay attention to how you've been feeling and let your body talk to you. If you start seeing patterns that aren't quite patterns or realize you've been feeling pretty lousy for a month or two, make an appointment. Get a check up. Talk to your doctor. Your doctor would really rather see you and tell you that it's nothing than have to tell you you have cancer and it's so far advanced there isn't too much they can do.
By the way - those same doctors who couldn't say "no" to me when I asked if that tumor could be growing for 7 years? They're the same ones who said to my mother as my sister & I sat with her in the room to hear the pathology report results after her hysterectomy and said she was Stage 1C and only C because the tumor had just ruptured before they operated and "If we can cure anyone, we can cure you."
That was 19 months before she died.
Ovarian cancer needs research, it needs to be looked at and taken seriously. Breast cancer is serious, I get that but we focus SO much attention on breast cancer and totally ignore her most insidious sister. Ovarian cancer kills more than it does not.
By the way - the color given to Ovarian Cancer Awareness is teal. My prayer is every time you see teal in the month of September it will make you think of Ovarian Cancer and perhaps lead you to looking into it, learning about it yourself.
And if you don't get in to see your doctor once a year - get in to see your doctor once a year. Do that exam. And listen to your body.
Kathi Goertzen, longtime anchor for KOMO news, channel 4 here in Seattle, lost her battle yesterday with brain tumors. Kathi was dearly loved by many of us who have watched her for decades. She had been with KOMO for 30 years. She was gracious, warm, kind, trustworthy, compassionate and an all around amazing human being. She will be missed in ways we don't have words to express. It is a physical ache, even for those of us who didn't know her personally. How much it must hurt her friends and family is excruciating to imagine.