4 stages too late

A year ago today, I was tossed into the vortex of our health care system.  A cat scan revealed that I had enlarged lymph nodes in my abdominal cavity.   It took 4 long weeks to get my final diagnosis…stage 4 ovarian cancer.   The five year survival rate for this cancer is less than 10 percent. I’m pissed! 

There is a whole health care system that missed my symptoms for years.  Ovarian cancer typically is not diagnosed in its early stages because it is very difficult to detect.  Pap smears do not catch ovarian cancer.  Most gynecological exams do not catch ovarian cancer.  As a matter of fact, I got a little notice in the mail while I was going through all the various biopsies and diagnostic tests last year that said, “Congratulations, your pap smear results were normal.”  I have been ignorantly wrong about the purpose of these test for all these years.  I am sure I am not alone.  I’m pissed!

One of the symptoms in ovarian cancer is frequent urgent need to urinate.   I started talking to doctors about this at least 8 years ago. I would find myself at a grocery store suddenly crossing my legs…these things can get quite embarrassing.  It was finally my general practitioner who thought to send me to an urologist.  He did all kinds of tests, finding blood in my urine but without any explanation.  He checked me inside and out but it apparently did not occur to him that my symptom might be ovarian cancer.  He eventually decided I no longer needed to see him. That was 4 years ago.   I’m pissed!

What bothers me is that doctors in general do not seem to have ovarian cancer symptoms on their radar.  With all the specialist focused on their area of expertise, they tend to miss the tell-tale signs. It was the enlarged lymph nodes under my collar bone that ultimately got their attention.  Four stages too late!

A necessary part of life is to feel ALL our emotions, not just the “good” ones. Today, I feel angry.  As with all emotions, they come and go…ebb and flow.  As Pema Chodron teaches about anger, “ …we can practice patience: wait, experience the anger and investigate its nature”

So, for today, I am noticing the nature of my anger…and boy am I pissed. 🙂


Leave a Reply