My Diagnosis Story: Randalynn Vasel
January 19, 2017...it was the day a hard line was drawn in my life. The one that I’d never quite be able to go back across. Around lunchtime, I’d hear the words that no 36 year old is ever prepared for “...you have ovarian cancer. It’s aggressive and we need to get you to an oncologist quickly...”
Shocked and confused by the news
I had no idea how this happened to me. I was healthy, young, I went to my annual exams regularly. But come to find out, I was never told at those exams what I was actually being screened for, that ovarian cancer can happen to anyone with ovaries and what the signs/symptoms were so that I could pay attention to what my body was telling me.
From pelvic pain to discovering a mass
Two weeks prior to hearing those words I’d ended up in the ER with severe pelvic pain – like the kind where I could only take a few steps without having to stop, hunch over, and take a few breaths...think labor like pain.
After an hour or so they decided to do a CT scan, which would reveal the “mass” which still hadn’t registered to anyone that it was cancerous (the 3 days I was in the hospital they never once drew a CA 125 marker)...in their eyes, I was too young. They removed two “cysts” – one was solid, the size of a cantaloupe and the other was half that size, fluid-filled. Only one would end up being malignant.
Receiving my final, full diagnosis
My lifesaver would enter my life 2 business days after I got the call – I can’t imagine my life without her. At our first meeting, she spent over two hours with me and my family, and at the end of the week, I’d undergo surgery number 2, my longest to date, 6-7 hours. They’d perform a full hysterectomy, including cervix, remove my omentum and go through my intestines by hand to ensure the disease hadn’t spread. I’d be left not only with an incision from above my belly button to my pubic bone, but in full fledge menopause as well, despite those things, they thought they’d gotten it all.
Five days in the hospital, two weeks of recovery and I'd hear my final, full diagnosis – high-grade ovarian cancer, stage 1c, and a focused group of endometrial cancer as well.
Never take life for granted
Three weeks after my debulking procedure I would begin chemo - a total of 6 rounds of carbo platinum and taxol and hear the words we’d been hoping for on July 3, 2017 – no evidence of disease and to date, I’ve not had a recurrence. Now my life after my ovarian cancer diagnosis doesn't stop there...but we'll leave that for another time.
Life is different – probably better if I’m honest. I learned time wasn’t actually something I was guaranteed to have a lot of and it was time to start living, on my terms, being my true self. I’ve accomplished more in the past four years than in my 36 years of living prior. Is life after a cancer diagnosis hard...yes, very much so. You are given one life – make sure you don’t take it for granted.
What stage were you diagnosed with?