I figured it would help me to write about it. 🧡
✘ It’s the weight of the thing that’s hard. Kind of like that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach right before a dentist appointment, but worse. I think it’s the not knowing, the dread, the anxiety…the worst.
✘ A rush laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH). 49 when told this could be coming. Just 50 when it’s now my reality. 3 days away and the nerves are climbing. I guess I didn’t think this would be me right now. I just didn’t.
I guess I didn’t think this would be me right now. I just didn’t.
✘ My story starts a few years ago. I was at a Christian conference in Florida in 2008 and a prophetic man prayed for me and said he saw cancer trying to come into my reproductive system. I thought this dude was whack. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe God could and would talk to His people but that I had had absolutely no female problems up to that point—no monthly cramps, no heavy periods, no irregularity or strange Pap smears, notta! Regardless, I let him pray. Everything else he said then was accurate and has since happened to one degree or another.
✘ Fast forward a few years and I start getting really heavy periods. The kind that leave you pale, weak, and tired, wondering what the heck is going on. Sorry men, but these are the ones that leave you gushing, leaking, and dreading the thought of having to stand up or go to bed (leaks, leaks galore). Periods became my nemesis and I wondered how long they would keep hitting me with such a vengeance and how much blood loss I would keep accumulating. It must be menopause, I thought. Soon this would be over so just keep going (ps. If you’re in a Christian church culture that teaches and reinforces this behaviour please do yourself a favour and get out now. But that’s for another post.)
✘ Time went on and I remember putting on a 12 hour worship and prayer Burn with churches from all over our region around this time. Not only was I setting it up and leading it the whole time but our worship team had a 2 hour set to boot. You guessed it. Of course I had my period. Sure I had been having heavy periods but I hadn’t thought much about it, to be honest. It wasn’t like I was planning my activities around it and frankly, it wasn’t like I even could. My periods had started coming at random times. Sometimes sooner than was expected and often a lot longer in time too. I was just grateful I had never really had much pain with them so I carried on and didn’t tell my doctor. I was also part of a religious culture that believed heavily in the healing power of God and, not that I don’t now but, when you’re really in that way of thinking you can have a tendency to just pray and hope for the best and not face reality.
✘ That particular period was the pits. Standing, singing and playing for 2 hours, plus running around for 16 and then going out to eat after with the crew proved to be too much this time. It was a long day and I wasn’t taking care of myself. Sitting there at the restaurant waiting for my order I felt a weakness come on me like I hadn’t known before. “Time to go, Trev,” I said. Nobody knew why but we hustled out of there. Apparently, the word for that year wasn’t “authentic” like it is now. I was used to hiding things. I was used to keeping going.
Apparently, my word for that year wasn’t “authentic” like it is now. I was used to hiding things. I was used to “being strong and keeping on”, “faking it until I was making it”, and “not speaking negative things into existence.” All completely unhealthy false teachings by the way.
✘ I dreaded standing up but I had to. It felt like my life force was draining away from me. We headed home but it was shortly after that I nearly passed out down the stairs and my heart rate remained high. We called an ambulance and they monitored me in the ER back in the city.
I dreaded standing up but I had to. It felt like my life force was draining away from me.
✘ The story only continues in a downward spiral since. Periods continued to wreak havoc landing me in the ER a couple more times with heavy bleeding and extreme pain. “Oh, it’s probably just menopause,” I was told during the last emergency trip and was sent home with tranexamic acid to help stop the bleeding, and narcotics for pain. Thanks God for a general physician who finally sent me for a transvaginal ultrasound (which took 3 months to even get in to) revealing a thickened uterus and fibroids.
Side note—Everything takes so long. If you’re having any suspicious bleeding, get it checked now because the medical system in Canada will normally make you wait, and then wait some more. In the meantime, you don’t know what is in there taking root and gaining more ground as the clock continues to tick due to cutbacks. Better safe then sorry. Go now.
✘ Thinking back to this ultrasound, that had to be at least a couple of years ago now! The uterine wall thickness flagged my doctor enough to continue investigating starting the wait to get into my gynecologist for a further assessment and biopsy. Like I said. Go as soon as things seem off.
✘ A few months later I’m finally in for an endometrial biopsy. Look ladies. I’m not going to beat around the bush here. They’re awkward and painful but I found that taking an extra strength Tylenol and Advil together an hour before helps. Also, go to someone who does it for a living! My GP popped one on me in her office and tried but couldn’t get into my cervix (not uncommon depending on where you are in your cycle and if you haven’t given birth before). After forwarding me on to my gynecologist it was a way better experience with much less pain because of his expertise. I was surprised at how quickly he was able to get the samples needed for pathology. I’m still so grateful for his skill level!
✘ It took a month to get my biopsy results back. I remember going into his office to hear the results. I was in a hurry. I had lots of commitments and things to do and I figure I had received no call so there was nothing strange in the report. Looking forward to hearing it so I could quickly dash out the door, I was instead met with a serious “you have abnormal cells”. I guess I looked shocked because he rushed out and brought a pamphlet back entitled “Endometrial Hyperplasia” and continued to explain which level I had. It reminded me of that dreaded moment in time when my mom handed me a pamphlet will letters scrolled on the front that said,” You’re a Woman Now.” The same but different, you know?
✘ Maybe you’re thinking big whoop. At least it wasn’t cancer. But I thought I was fine. I thought it was just menopause. I had things to do! I didn’t have time for this! The thoughts went through my head as my Doctor continued to explain I had the 2nd level called Complex Endometrial Hyperplasia with a 3% chance of having cancer so I would have to go on hormone treatment. 3%? “Ok chill,” I thought. But he seemed so serious. Well the story goes on.
“Ok chill,” I thought. But he seemed so serious.
Here’s the treatment options I was given:
- Provera – hormone pills for 3 months. Over summer. Yay. I already have a mood disorder. Double yay.
- IUD – focalized hormone treatment. I have a mood disorder. Yay.
- Hysterectomy – are you kidding me? No thanks!
✘ I miserably choose Option 1 and waited a month to start the pills (mainly due to fear and secondly because I had no idea when I was even supposed to take the first one so figured I’d wait until my next cycle. The internet is full of misleading information. Duh.)
✘ Another month goes by and then 3 more while I take this progestin in hopes of it reversing the abnormal cells. Let me just say that my moods were all over the map with the predominate visitation of anger and rage. More YAY. I’m just lucky that my family didn’t walk out on me. It’s been an exhausting trip mentally.
✘ September rolls around and I get booked in for my 2nd biopsy in October and I figure “THIS IS IT!!!” I’m finally done with this run-around and I can move on with my life! Another month goes by and I get the call: “Your abnormal cells got worse. You now have atypia and could already have cancer.”
“Your abnormal cells got worse. You now have atypia and could already have cancer.” WHAT??!!
✘ This isn’t suppose to happen. Pretty much everyone gets better on this treatment!! Except for me apparently. I cried. I cried hard. I also had a pretty big “talk” with God. It’s ok. He can handle it.
✘ So at this point I have a 30% to 50% chance of getting endometrial cancer if I don’t already have it. Now I really have to decide what’s next. My gynecologist promptly forwards me on to CancerCare in Winnipeg and the wait continues for my appointment with the gynecologic oncologist. These are words I do not like.
✘ What the heck is happening? On the outside you would have never known. I grin and bear things. It’s what I’ve been taught. I’m trained peeps! Unless you live in the deep depths of my home you wouldn’t have known what I carry. Are you the same?
✘ If you’ve ever waited for an oncologist to call you I am giving you a virtual hug right now. It’s hard, it’s stressful, and I don’t envy anyone in this position. If you’re battling cancer I give you the biggest hug. My news was good, I thought! When the oncologist called he decided that since it wasn’t for sure that I had cancer that his services weren’t needed and hopefully wouldn’t be ever again. He then recommended the IUD or a stronger drug called Megace or the hysterectomy and said that the treatment standard for these types of cells is hysterectomy. After much discussion with my husband and doctors I hesitantly decided on the latter. I also thought I was in the clear in a way. Being that we were in the middle of a massive COVID outbreak, surgeries were pushed way back and I could always change my mind. Plus, I didn’t have cancer, right? Time to move on with the dreams I had put on hold awaiting this appointment.
✘ My gynecologist then forwarded me to a gynecologic surgeon who decided I needed rush surgery. With the current surgery que I wouldn’t be able to get it out until July and he said I need it done now. Urgently. Hold up again. He says if I don’t already have cancer somewhere else in my uterus then I likely would by July. So here we are. Going in in under 3 days and I’m not ready. I’m not ready for anything because I still don’t believe him. I have to trust that he knows best. And I have to trust God has me and the pathology report will be clear.
✘ Anyone else been in denial about their life and health? I’m convinced it’s a coping mechanism put in place by the brain and body when you’re in overdrive already. We all know this has been a tough year in so many other ways. I think a person can only deal with so much.
✘ So if you’re the praying type, keep me in yours. If this post helped you on your journey to a hysterectomy, let me know. I really hope that all of the things I write helps someone in even some minor way. Even if it’s to just inspire you not to be like me or just to let you know that you’re not alone. This is the last post I’ll do until I’m hopefully on my way to recovery (unless I find some half written post I can put up to appease the algorithm gods). If I don’t answer you anytime soon, I’m not ignoring you. I just have bigger fish to fry and probably some major drugs to take. I will be posting when I can on the whole 9 yards of pre-op, surgery, post-op recovery, and pathology reports. Bless you and hopefully talk soon! 🧡