Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Rhythm of Life

Yesterday, another ovarian cancer friend passed away from this horrible disease. Her name is Sarah and here's a link to her blog. She has a mom, a husband, two children. She had all the same vague symptoms that many of us do and she shrugged them off, attributing them to something else, to the normal stress and pressures of being a woman in the world today. She faced her challenge with grace, determination and a wonderful sense of humor and her blog has been an important part of my own path as I learn to deal with this disease.

Ten days ago, another friend, Patty, left us also. Here was another warrior woman, determined to fight to the very end and do so with humor and grace. In late March, it was Jayne. Too many deaths, too many good women who are dying from this nasty, nasty disease.

The reason I am sharing this is because I would like to ask you to take some time visit their blogs and get to know them through their writings. That is how I got to know them and although we shared the cancer as a common thread, in the end, we are all still just simple women who are faced with an overwhelming challenge brought on by this disease. There are others out there, surviving and thriving and from them I take great hope and strength from. But what I want more than anything is to keep you aware of ovarian cancer and it's symptoms. I cannot stand the idea that another friend will be touched by cancer. So take the time, get in touch with your body and it's rhythms and if you suspect that something is wrong - it is the doctor's responsibility to prove to YOU that you are okay. It is NOT your responsibility to prove it to the doctor!

Here are the common warning signs of ovarian cancer:
- bloating
- pelvic or abdominal pain
- trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- urinary frequency or urgency

Additional warning signs include:
- upset stomach
- back pain
- pain during sex
- constipation
- menstrual changes
- unexplained changes in bowel habits
- unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- ongoing unsusal fatigue

When I look back, I had all or some of the symptoms for about 6-9 months before I was diagnosed. My primary care physician was sure I was dealing with IBS and I wanted it to be that, but I think I knew it was more serious. In the end, I am still alive because I have had excellent medical care and I have educated myself about ovarian cancer and the treatments available to me. And I have had the love and caring of literally hundreds of family members and friends that have carried me so lovingly in their arms. But I don't want any of you to have to reach this point. Let's all slow down and notice the little things and small moments of the day before life gets away from us.

Here's to Aunt Cathy, Sarah, Patty and Jayne and all the other lovely women out there who have had to make the decision to stop treatment in order to live out the last days of their lives in peace and dignity. Godspeed, my friends.