"Just Us" - Mysterious Symptoms and Future Family Dreams
Last updated: May 2023
I was 29 years old, and my boyfriend Nick and I were on a dream vacation in St. Martin. As we were blissfully sitting on the beach, watching the sunset, with rum and pineapple drinks in hand, we talked about where we saw ourselves in 5 years, leading to our first conversation about marriage.
It was just the 2 of us. I wondered, "Was this real life?" It almost felt too good to be true.
Envisioning a future with our own kids
While we never explicitly discussed having kids, I always envisioned a future with children. I also knew he was great with kids. One time I saw him doing jazz hands with a little girl on the dancefloor at a friend's wedding, and his face completely lit up.
I could see that there was nowhere else he'd rather be. Looking at his baby photos, I could easily picture the faces of what our children might look like one day.
A routine OBGYN appointment
A couple of days after we returned home, I went in for my annual OBGYN appointment. Everything seemed pretty routine, aside from the fact that the nurse observed that my uterus felt enlarged during my pelvic exam and ordered an ultrasound.
The day after my ultrasound, I was driving to see my parents, and I received a call to revisit my doctor's office as soon as possible. I nervously agreed and then hung up as I pulled into my parent's driveway.
I knew this wasn't a good sign; I just couldn't comprehend the extent of it all. I rushed in through the front door, hugged my dad, and immediately started to cry, speaking incoherently as I tried to explain what I had just been told over the phone. My parents put on their best brave faces, reassuring me to try not to worry.
In the waiting room
I went to my doctor's office as soon as it opened the next morning and sat in a waiting room full of pregnant women and their anxious husbands for over an hour. With spotty cell service, I desperately tried Google-searching some of the inconsistent symptoms I was experiencing, like bloating and abdominal pressure. I even told Nick during our trip that I felt as if "something was trying to push my belly button inside-out." But I just chalked it up to bloating from all the rum and pineapple drinks.
I watched the soon-to-be mothers get called in one by one, with them all seemingly being prioritized before me. My nervousness turned into envy and bitterness as the clock ticked by, and I worried about my own fertility.
Receiving the news that something wasn't right
I finally got called in to meet with the head of the practice - a woman I had never met before. I sat at her desk, covered in stacks of paperwork. She seemed cold, detached, and somewhat frantic as she greeted me, mispronouncing my name while avoiding eye contact.
She started flipping through sheets of paper as she repeatedly asked whether I was experiencing any symptoms. I started to tell her about the bloating, but it seemed to go in one ear and out the other, as she bluntly told me that I had a 9-centimeter ovarian cyst about the size of a baseball.
She quickly put me in touch with a renowned gynecological oncologist and surgeon and ordered some bloodwork and an MRI for further testing. I left her office with my hands filled with paperwork, in complete shock. I then drove the short distance to work and called Nick from the parking lot.
I got out of my car and walked towards the office building's double glass doors as I gave him the news. I began pacing in front of the entrance, hiding my face from the handful of employees walking into the building, as we both started to sob – our minds imagining the worst: This could be cancer.
Do you have things that helped you cope through your ovarian cancer journey?