On Friday my best friend, Bethany drove me to Verdugo Hills Hospital.
I was on my way to get a laproscopic cystectomy with the possibility of removing my left ovary. I was starving from one day of a clear liquid diet and 10 hours of no water . The bright side of this situation is of course the weight loss. A whole 36 hours of no eating, actually caused me to gain weight. I put on 3 pounds during a fast. However the knot in my stomach wasn’t just from diet frustration and lack of carbs. If the surgeon went in and found that the cyst was cancer I was going to wake up without a left ovary. The left ovary is where I have 7 eggs. The right has just 3.
Of course eggs would be the least of my worries if they found ovarian cancer but it was the only one I could get my head around.
This all didn’t seem that far away. I keep getting flagged as a potential candidate to take the BRCA test. If I have the cancer gene I have a 40-60% chance of ovarian cancer.
It was also unclear as to how the surgery would affect harvesting my eggs. Swelling my ovaries with eggs right after removing a cyst could cause bleeding problems. The fertility doctors would normally just delay my period with hormones to give me time to heal but since my breast cancer is hormone reactive they don’t want to give me any more than necessary. My fertility doctor was going to be in touch with my two oncologists to run through possible scenarios-including waiting another month. I hadn’t heard the outcome of the conversations.
As we drove I tried to hear my gut over the nerves, the unknowns and gurgles of hunger. I put my hand on my stomach and just for a second connected with how I felt. Deep down I didn’t feel like I had cancer there despite the weird looking cyst, despite the scary removing ovaries conversations, despite my world already being turned upside down. I also knew I could be wrong. Many of my friend’s guts told them I didn’t have breast cancer after the biopsy, so many people were truly shocked. I didn’t feel it, but I knew it was possible.
I was kindly tucked into the hospital bed by a nurse bearing pre-warmed blankets. Bethany and Lauren waited by my bedside until it was time for me to go into surgery. On Beth’s ipad we approved of Princess Kate’s Canada outfits and judged celebrity tattoos. I almost forgot for a split second where I was and what I was about to do, or rather what was to be done to me.
I tried not to freak out about being in a hospital as I know that this is just the beginning of my time in hospitals. Instead I tried to focus on remembering every nurses name, which was especially hard on an empty stomach. I tried to look at the people and not associate the surroundings with hospital memories from childhood. I noticed the nurses seemed genuinely happy to be there, the staff gushed about how great the surgeon was and at every step someone explained what was happening next. I felt incredibly looked after. It was still a shock though to wake up in the recovery room with a oxygen mask with no memory of going under.
Through the haziness I took off my oxygen mask and tried to ask the nurse if I had my ovary, she smiled at me and put my mask back on. I am not sure the words came out of my mouth. The doctor came in. I struggled to clear my mind to focus. He told me the cyst was fine, it was not cancer, it was above my ovary and not in the way of getting my eggs and so he left in there. All I could say was “I can have a baby?” I didn’t know if it was a question or a statement. I think I just wanted to hear the news again. I think he repeated himself and then left. It slowly dawned on me that I can start hormones next week and will be starting chemo in under 3 weeks and I don’t have ovarian cancer, but most of all there is still a chance of having a baby and for that I cried with relief. It was an anesthesia cry so it sounded odd and echoey but most of all it was happy.