It’s More Than Just Pink

By: Randalynn Vasel

I was 36 years old, young, healthy, a part-time single mom of 2…I’m just stressed out, work is crazy, my workout routine is stale…that’s why I’m exhausted and losing weight. I can’t be sick, no way…

I’m sure these are all the thoughts we have, right?? We don’t have time to stop ignoring what our body is trying to tell us, until we have no choice and if you’re like me, end up landing in the ER for what you assuming is a kidney stone. The doctors on call that night had differing opinions from the male doctor telling me I wasn’t being truthful and I thinking I had an STD and the female doctor telling him no way, I think it’s her appendix. Both were wrong…it ended up the pain I was in was caused by a cyst the size of a cantaloupe…and still, no one drew a vile of blood to check and see if my CA125 levels may be elevated because my age didn’t fit the mold. Yet had someone asked me what I was experiencing, I had almost all of the signs/symptoms – pelvic pain, weight loss, extreme fatigue, urgency to wee, lower back pain and heart burn like no other.

January 19, 2017 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After a full debulking procedure (hysterectomy, including removal of my cervix and omentum) I’d find out that by pure chance, although it was high grade, I was in the early stages, stage 1C. Due to having a focused group of endometrial cancer as well I’d receive 6 round of carbo/taxol every 3 weeks…and on July 3rd, 2017 I’d hear the words No Evidence of Disease and on the road to recovery. But how do you get to the other side of all of this…how do you put one foot in front of the other – things are supposed to just go back to normal, right??

I had been warned by a friend who’d been through a cancer diagnosis…the hardest part is when treatment stops and the fear of recurrence sets in…what I wasn’t prepared for was how real this feeling was and all of the preventative measures that come in to play. I am not your typical stage 1C ovarian cancer patient. This is the first year since 2017 that I haven’t had at least one surgical procedure…at times it feels like you never get a break and are constantly sucking on a fire hose as life comes at you a million miles a minute, especially when the surgeries are back to back to back. Since July 2017 I’ve had a prophylactic double mastectomy, my gallbladder removed for biopsy and a reconstruction procedure….all to make sure I didn’t have or get another form of cancer….oh yeah, and we’re still annually monitoring a spot on my thyroid.

So how do you return to normal after something like this – I don’t think you truly ever do, but you learn to create a life that works best for you, it’s quite possibly better than the one you had prior to being diagnosed. You learn what matters, where to focus your energy and time. You will fall down, but you will also get right back up. You will learn that you can do hard things and what seems impossible is actually possible. Do you miss the carefree life you may have had prior to being diagnosed – of course you do! I often say that there are days I wish I was naïve to all that cancer is, instead of having my eyes wide open to all of it. Allow yourself to breakdown, but you have to remember to get right back up. Allow yourself to do what is needed in order for you to get through all of this. You got this!

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