Ovarian cancer and puberty, like I didn't have enough problems.
I was like any other teenage girl in the 8th grade, or so I thought. At the age of 13 cancer wasn't even on my radar, I was worried about boys, homework and the mall. The day it happened hit me like a ton of bricks, the pain in my abdomen was indescribable. My Mom thought I was faking to get out of school so I suffered with the pain for 3 days before seeing a doctor. I don't blame her, I was a serial faker when it came to playing sick. I knew something was very wrong when I couldn't bend down to tie my shoe. Appendix rupture was the first thing on my doctors mind, I was afraid but assured that this was a common medical issue and I would be ok in a few days. Eventually after seeing a surgeon I made my way to the local hospital where I needed to enter with a wheel chair because the pain was so intense (call an ambulance? No one thought of that). I had to wait in triage for about an hour before the nausea kicked in and I could bear the pain no longer. The first thing I got was a shot of demerol in the arm BEFORE the doctor examined me. When he walked in the room for reassurance that I was in the best care and he told me it was his first day, that really made me feel amazing. The exam was moot because I was so doped up I couldn't really feel much besides "pain all over", so they just sent me for scans. I knew something was array when the doctor called my parents out of the room and only my Dad came back in. We had a really special relationship so I knew since none of the 15 family members that showed up didn't follow, something was wrong. He explained to me that there was a grapefruit sized mass on my right ovary and I needed emergency surgery. After the 4 hour surgery I was assured my tumor was benign and all I had to do was recover (mind you I have a 9 inch incision from my belly button down, so I was super happy about that). Thankfully slides of my tumor were sent for a second opinion so 4 days after being home I was on my way to another hospital. They put in a port and did another surgery to make sure there weren't any cancerous lymph nodes. I woke up on chemo, I needed 4 rounds and countless scans and blood tests. I had amazing family support looking back but at the time I didn't appreciate it, all I felt was anger and nausea. I lost all my hair even my eyelashes (as if being an awkward looking 13 yr old girl wasn't enough). Thankfully the chemo worked and I've been cancer free for 7 years. At the time death didn't even cross my mind, but it's hitting me now that there was a very good chance I could be dead right now. I have all these scars all over me, the one on my chest from the port gets the most attention. People act funny when you drop the C-Bomb so I tell them I fell. As far as a love life goes I'm very apprehensive due to the massive scar and small ones from my surgeries, I'm just scared no 20 something guy will understand. I've actually never met another survivor of Ovarian cancer my age, we're either a small group or I haven't looked hard enough. Right now at the age of 21, and after losing my father and 4 other family members to various forms of cancer I feel like a scared kid. I never want to go through what I went through ever again. They all leaned on me for support since I could really empathize with their pain, and perhaps I'd like to do that for others. I don't want to be afraid anymore. No matter which way I look at it cancer is and will always be a part of my life, and I think I'm going to start owning the fact that I beat it. I want to become involved in organizations to tell my story that I've kept like a dirty secret for so long. To anyone who reads this, especially women going through this ordeal or know someone who is, I just want you to stay strong. Just know that if I (a gangly preteen) beat it, so can you.