September is the most important month in my personal calendar. It is a time for celebration marking both our 15th Wedding Anniversary and my 5th "Cancer-versary".
Celebration is indeed in order when you reflect on the "in sickness and in health" part of our wedding vows realising that 1/3 of our marriage has been spent with a sinister intruder - ovarian cancer - in our lives. We haven't waited for today to celebrate however, we've celebrated every breath as a victory, ever day a milestone. Every moment that we didn't have to talk or think about cancer has been a blessing. Every treatment, every checkup, every new development has been a mutual challenge in seeking acceptance and understanding - always and ever, the daily requirement for a new normal.
Ovarian cancer is not a "silent killer" - a phrase most often used in association with this disease - but one with sceamingly loud symptoms which are rarely taken seriously. Study after study says that increased screening does not lead to increased survival but take a step back and really listen to your body. Most of the Sunflower Sisters who I know personally, were very symptomatic before diagnosis and had gone through test after unrelated test until the disease was so advanced as to be irreversible. All of the Sunflower Sisters, who I know personally, have had children, live an active, healthy life and none are BRCA1/2 positive. All of these ladies confound "conventional wisdom".
As did I. Some of you know my story of detection - the clean ultrasound 5 weeks earlier - and then the "infamous" tennis shot which combined with doing the splits - caused what I thought was a hernia. Twelve days later, I underwent a 7 1/2 hour surgery to remove a 22cm malignant tumour. Thank heavens for tennis.
Today marks five years from that date - I have so much to be grateful for. There are so many people to be grateful to - an extremely loving, supportive family and network of friends, competent, caring doctors, nurses and as time goes on, the discovery of many, many unsung heroes.
Five years ago, I was told that I had 42% chance of 5 year survival. At the time, my husband said "You'll make it 43%"! He was right - I didn't though, we did!
Happy Anniversary, Darling!