Posted in News and Opinions, Ovarian OMG!

It Couldn’t Happen To Me…But It Did #OvarianCancerAwarenessDay

I remember as if it was yesterday, heading to bed after a long day of work, having what I thought was my typical bad PMS acting up again. I checked my calender and my Period Tracker App, only to discover I still had a week and a half to go. Needless to say, I found it odd, but didn’t question it. My periods were always a few weeks off, and when they came, they came with a vengeance. I popped some Tylenol, gave the boyfriend RJ a kiss, and called it a night. I had work the next day and needed my hours. No way was I letting this get the best of me.

“It’s just cramps.”

3am brought a horrible pain in my lower abdomen I have never felt before, it was as if someone was making balloon animals out of what I thought naively was my appendix.  I made myself a hot bath to soothe my stomach, but the pain was so bad, my body went into a shock of sorts, I never felt so cold in a hot bath in my life. 

RJ woke up and saw me curled up in the bathtub in a fetal position, begging me to call 911 because even he knew something was off from my typical PMSing. We must of argued back and forth for what seemed like forever about me calling an ambulance. I had work in a few hours, plus why would I waste time getting help for period cramps? Imagine the medical bills for something so mediocre, even though this was the worst pain in my life.

RJ dialed the phone and passed it on to me as a explained what was going on. I was then whisked away to Dr. Philip’s Medical Center, where it was discovered that the culprit in this case was my left ovary, they originally told me there was a golf sized tumor growing on it, and if I did go to work that day, it would burst and I could of died. They needed to get this out of me fast, then I was warned that in addition to the tumor, the ovary will come along with it. 

I never been so scared before in my life. This was less than six months living away from my family, RJ being the only person I was close with within a thousand mile radius. He moved down a week prior to find work after he wasn’t able to extend his internship working a farm in Arkansas. Lord knows what would of happened if he never came down.

I remember waking up to a catheter in me, as well as a bunch of staples in my lower abdomen. The doctor came in and told me that the tumor size was wrong at triage, it was actually the size of a grapefruit, and because of it’s size, out came the left fallopian tube.

I became half a woman.” was the first thought that went into my head. But despite that odd feeling, I was thankful to be alive. 

A few weeks later, the lab confirmed that there was malignancy in the tumor, early onset Ovarian Cancer, which could of been worse if I went to work that day and let it rupture.

The average age of diagnosis is 63. At the time, I was a few days shy of my 28th birthday. Although it was uncommon to be diagnosed so young, it is a grim reality. Usually, treatment would consist of chemo therapy and laser surgery to keep the cysts and tumors at bay. But since they removed the source of the problem and the surrounding area, the cancer was gone, and about a month and a half later, I was back to work. I have been going for yearly checkups and for the last four years, I have been cancer free. 

Since then, those crazy death like periods began to subside, my cycle became more regular, and the cramps that would confine me to bed for days became mostly a thing of the past. I was told I could still have children but it will be a tough process, which isn’t a top priority for me as of now, but good to know for down the line. 

So pretty much, I became a ticking time bomb years before landing in the hospital. I knew something was up, but I wasn’t the kind of person to run to the doctor. Insurance is expensive and I went without it up until I got Medicaid, and even that became hard to use since not many doctors take it and many of those doctors aren’t accessible in public transit. Health became a bottom priority over work and paying my bills.

Guess the most important lesson is to learn to take care of myself. Cancer DOESN’T discriminate. Even Ovarian Cancer. It’s always best to get checked out often. Many free clinics and Planned Parenthood offer screenings. Your life matters over anything else. The bills and adulting can wait, your life can’t. If you show signs of irregular periods, frequent cramps and abdominal pain, loss of appetite, frequent urination, indigestion, weight loss, and changes in bowel movements, please consult a doctor. Although you think it might be nothing, it could be something you never imagined. Always play it safe.

Posted in Ovarian OMG!, Overcoming Adversity

The Childless Christmas

So today, a co-worker went on a rant on Facebook, complaining that she has to work Christmas despite being 15 years with the company, which led into a rant that basically translated to “if you don’t have kids, you should work Christmas for those who have them.”

Well, that just stabbed me in the remaining ovary.

Since when did we, the childless by circumstance or choice, become second class to those who have the opprotunity to get pregnant and have children? More importantly, how did Christmas become a special holiday only those with rugrats of their own can celebrate?

Two summers ago was a scary time for me, one minute I was up at 3am in exteme pain, the next, I found myself on an operating table in prep for emergency surgery to have a grapefruit sized tumor and half my baby making bits removed, making it difficult and almost fatal to even have kids. My goals to get married and have that soccer mom life turned into bigger goals, moving up with the company I work for, making new friends, and enjoying life the best way I can.

But even that comes at a cost, as working a holiday at the world’s largest theme park has it’s not so magical quirks. But I got to take it with a smile and work the best I can while thousands of miles separate the ones I love from me.

But to create a war on Christmas based on whether or not my lady bits can make babies is an all time low.

Be mindful to those who view family as something different. Just because I haven’t had a kid doesn’t mean Christmas shouldn’t be a holiday I can celebrate. Christmas is a time of year for all to enjoy, babies or no babies.

I have a family in the form of my friends from the comic  convention circuts. I have family I call my co-workers, which, like the one complaining, have to work that day too. I may not have a conventional family down here while my real one is on the other side of the country, but I have a right like everyone to enjoy the love and magic of the season.

To those who only think about themselves, I urge you to take a look on the other side of that picket fence and the mini van and reach out to all with an open mind.

Merry Christmas to all, no matter what your baby making skills are.

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A LITTLE BACKGROUND- The Mighty published this piece recently under a very straightforward title in which lead to some questions and comments.

I am low on senority, yes. But I know I must work it, after all, I signed up for it. Duty calls.

The funny thing about this company is that no matter if you are one year or forty in the company, there is a good 90% chance you’ll be working the holiday, given the nature of the business at hand.

Nobody is entitled to anything to the contrary. But everyone has a right to celebrate Christmas. I know I’ll be making the most of it with no family other than a few close friends over the course of a few days.

What irked me is the attack on the childless. I honestly don’t care about working the holiday. More money for me.

I took my co-worker’s words as a personal attack on those without children. That’s what this whole piece is about.

Whether you are with or without family, working long hours or lucked out with the day off, I wish you the best this holiday season.

Posted in Ovarian OMG!, Overcoming Adversity

Half The Woman I Used to Be

The other night, I had a nice chat with my friend about the struggles I have been having lately in the my most recent venture into the single life.

After ending a 6 year relationship just 2 days before Valentines day, I thought I could go back to being the feisty adventurous Mandy I used to be in my college days. But for the longest time afterwards I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I was so turned off in the dating world. Until it dawned on me.

I do give my last ex credit for saving my life, forcing me to  take an ambulance one night 2 years ago despite my urge to take that overtime shift at the Outlet shop I worked at. I don’t remember much of that night other than that I woke up to hear the doctor say I needed a large ovarian cyst removed, along with half my inner lady bits, which turned out to be borderline cancerous.

I, in a sense developed a feeling of being inadequate, like I wasn’t a full woman. Having part of your sexuality taken from you forcefully in an attempt to save your life during a time where you’re supposed to be at your prime, making babies and such.

It’s bad enough I had to deal with the hurdle of being someone with a visual disability in the dating world, now I have to deal with this feeling of being half a woman.

I explained to my friend how I have been feeling lately after dealing with yet another Tinder date gone wrong, that I feel like I’m not complete enough to find true love. His reply surprised me.

“They may have taken away some of you, but they didn’t take away all of you. Because at the end of the day, you’re still the fun loving, kind hearted lady you were back then.”

And he is right. And although I know my pool of men consist of many who wouldn’t get my struggle, I know at the end of the day, I made it out alive, that nobody can take that away from me. It’s still taking time to get used to the changes my body has gone through, even two years later. But I think now is the time to own the changes and rise above.

Needless to say I’m half the woman I used to be, and that’s not half bad

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