The wonderful city traffic makes it almost impossible to get anywhere on time, and being a nurse in an Oncology unit makes time of the essence. After rushing to clock in and listen to the reports of the last shift, I began my daily routine: greeting patients and seeing if there was anything I could do to make them a little more comfortable, then reading updates in their charts and familiarizing myself with the new patients.
As I was going through the chart of a newly admitted patient diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I slowly began to realize that over the past few months I had been having some, if not all, of the same symptoms: being bloated to the point of having to go up in clothing sizes just to be comfortable, needing to urinate constantly, and the pain in my pelvic region and back becoming almost unbearable. It terrified me to even think that there was a slight possibility that I could have this disease. So I questioned one of the oncologists and decided to have some tests run, just to be on the safe side.
The day my doctor told me I had Ovarian cancer I was so devastated, I went completely numb. My grandmother had received the same news years ago and the cancer took her from us. After gathering myself into the car I realized I had never been a quitter and wasn’t going to start then. I knew that I needed a greater strength than what was in me, so I turned to God for my strength and encouragement to get through this disease that has taken the lives of so many women.
As my family and friends learned of my condition, many gathered around me with words of encouragement and some completely ignored me like I was a leper. However, I understood their reaction. Fear of the illness and the inability to deal with what could be the ultimate fate–death–frightened those family and friends.
I had many bad days; it was difficult to even get out of bed. Aware that my life was really just taking off, I now had to face this cancer that could eventually end it. I thought of how my grandmother had dealt with her situation and realized that I needed to make a decision on a treatment. After a discussion with my oncologist about the different treatment options, I did some research online about chemotherapy, radiation, and even surgery. After meeting with multiple oncologists to make sure there wasn’t a misdiagnosis, my doctor and I finally decided on a complete hysterectomy.
The morning of the surgery all my family and some close friends came to my room to wish me good luck. Unfortunately, after the surgeons opened me up, they saw that the cancer had spread into my abdomen. Even with the complete hysterectomy, I was going to have a great battle ahead. My doctor and I then decided a round of chemotherapy was the best possible decision. The chemo worked well for a while and the cancer went into remission. I thought I was cured! About a year later, the symptoms returned and the cancer came back with vengeance.
The only thing the doctors could do was help to manage the pain. Even though I know my days are numbered, I still live my life to the fullest and try to let other victims of this dreaded disease know they can still be vibrant and enjoy their lives, too. I’m sure my experience has made me a much more understanding and compassionate nurse.