Well, that was a start to the year I did not envisage. A seemingly routine trip to the GP and I am now writing this, lying on the sofa without many of my "lady parts"!
I had a cancerous polyp removed from my bowel seven years ago. It was caught early and after a spot of internal plumbing, I was as right as rain. To be honest, I thought " well, that's my brush with cancer done" and slid back into normality. I am getting to an age where menstrual patterns become less predictable, so when I had a period that lasted a lot longer than normal, I wasn't going to bother going to the doctor, but my husband insisted. My GP is lovely and recommended some hormone tests, I asked if I could have the ca125 test too. This is a marker for ovarian cancer. This came back slightly raised so I was sent for an ultra sound. "Was that ok?" I asked the radiographer, I had trotted off on my own to hospital as I had no reason to worry. "No," she said, reluctant to meet my eye, " you've got something on your ovary which needs urgent investigation." It's strange how your whole life can suddenly come crashing around you. An hour before I'd been wondering what to get for tea and now, well I feared the very worst.
I went to see a consultant who now talked of a "mass" and was sent for an MRI scan which I wept all the way through. I wish I could tell you that I am brave but I'm not. I cried and cried for days, for my poor, bewildered husband, for my daughter on the cusp of adulthood. All I could envisage was their lives without me. I was a nurse many aeons ago, and if there is a worst case scenario, I will plump for that. Ovarian cancer is known as "the silent killer", mine was a 12cm mass that had given me no symptoms at all. I was pole-axed with fear and grief.
The MRI was not as bad as we had feared, the consultant spoke in quietly reassuring tones, he used words such as "curable" "Grade 1" "no evidence of spread" words that I held onto for hope.
Last week I went into The Christie and had a full hysterectomy and half omentumectomy. As I had previous bowel surgery, it wasn't too straight forward, but all things considered, I am recovering well. The skills of the surgeons and the anaesthetist were brilliant. However, it is the love and care of my friends and family that has left me so humbled. My increasingly hysterical texts and phone calls have been answered with unswerving patience. My daughter's friends and parents have shown such kindness. I have been inundated with flowers and cards, texts, tweets and emails. A lady I have never met, except on Twitter, sent a bouquet from Edinburgh. My mum and mum-in-law, both in their seventies, have worked out a rota so one is always here, cooking, cleaning, nurturing and loving.
I am beginning to feel a little more like my old self now, I'm reading lots and listening to plenty of Radio 4. Have you ever made the mistake of watching daytime tv? Oh, it truly is awful. I cannot drive for six weeks but I sat out in the winter sun today and turned my face towards it with relish.
I am seeing my consultant this week, I hope I can face whatever comes next with a little more courage than I've shown. I love my life, I'm not ready to leave it just yet.