Fear of the “C” Word. When cancer threatens your femininity | by Nicole Lee | Middle-Pause | Dec, 2023

When cancer threatens your femininity

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

January will mark four years since I ended up in the ER in excruciating pain. Diagnosed with an ovarian cyst and sent home with a shrug of condescension from the ER doctor, it was another week before an ultrasound with my OB/GYN confirmed it required surgery.

I spent two more weeks in pain before it was finally removed.

Believing that was the end of my ordeal, I was stunned when my doctor called to say the pathology revealed my “cyst” was actually a tumor. It would require a referral to an oncologist and a total hysterectomy.

I laughed when I told my friends and family the news because what else can you do?

Six weeks after the cystectomy, I was back in for surgery number two. I didn’t ask a lot of questions, hoping that the doctor was right and removal of my uterus, ovaries, and cervix would take care of it.

Menopause had hit me young and with full force a couple of years prior, so what difference did it make if my female organs were taken?

I was lucky that further pathology showed it was indeed a Stage 1 tumor and would require five years of cancer screenings, but no chemo or radiation. Nearly four years in, and I’m happy to report there have been no signs of recurrence.

In the past week, I’ve had two friends threatened with the “C” word.

One is already scheduled for her preventative hysterectomy and is taking it in stride. The other is still pending further tests. Even though it’s still just a possibility and not a diagnosis, she is understandably scared. While she is putting on a brave face and going about life as usual, just the idea of cancer leaves you stunned and reminds you of your mortality.

Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash

I want to alleviate her fear and remain positive. Reminding her that even if a hysterectomy is required, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, it wreaks havoc on your hormones and throws you into total menopause in the blink of an eye.

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