I never thought of my experiences as a “story”. But then I was introduced to “Fight Like a Girl Club” and started reading all of your stories. I have been touched by so many and encouraged as well. There are stories in here that are proof that I’m not alone and while some days my struggles seem so small and obsolete, they are still there and a reminder that health should not be taken for granted.
Let’s start during the summer between fourth and fifth grade. That’s when my period started. I knew what to expect. My older cousins had explained to me their experiences “growing up” – but I didn’t have any other friends or cousins my age going through the same thing. After about a year and a half, my periods were so severe I would miss school or have to go home early. I was so embarrassed. Perfect attendance was important to me and this was messing everything up, even my grades.
Eventually, as a teenager, I noticed myself having chronic dull pains where my menstrual cramps would reside, however, my cycle wasn’t coming like normal and these dull heavy pains took the place of my cramps. Long story short -my ovaries had cysts. At the time, I was not very well educated on this problem. This occurred over and over again, eventually resulting in multiple surgeries removing the cysts (6 cm, then 12 cm, up to 16 cm). Eventually, my left ovary had to be removed along with the tube. I was 20-years-old and just married. I was so lucky to find such a strong, supportive love in my husband, but being a US Navy sailor, I knew we would experience times where his support would be unavailable. I also struggled with some resentment because my Navy career was cut way short due to these chronic issues.
Shortly after the removal of my left ovary, my doctor encouraged us to start trying for a child (we definitely wanted children, always have). He explained to us that it might just be a matter of time before we found ourselves in the same situation – this time with the right ovary. So we tried and eventually it worked! We had a beautiful 9.6 lb baby girl!
Since then, there have been cysts form and get larger and my doctor has been great about using medicine and different birth controls to get rid of them without surgery. However, just a few months ago, we found another. It was actually a fluke we found it at all. I was going through treatment for HPV and they had removed some pre-cancerous cells from my cervix and during a follow up exam, my doctor happened to touch a spot and immediately we both knew, a cyst. I guess I had gotten so used to the dull, heavy pain, I just stopped noticing it. After trying the usual tricks, she decided that the best way to take care of this cyst was rupturing it. In her opinion, that was the best chance we had to save my ovary from so much damage and scar tissue. This way, she hoped, we could still have more children. (Im only 24 at this point). This is the route we decided to go with.
It was painful and scary but it worked! The cyst was gone. I started feeling better and after a short period of weeks, she encouraged us to start trying for another (same mentality, try before time runs out). We went about our normal marital activities, and guess what – #2 is on the way!
I decided to share my story for this reason: Through struggling with these cysts (eventually diagnosed as polycystic ovaries), surgeries, pain, severe IBS with constipation, HPV, pre-cancerous cervical cells constantly popping up, small lumps around my breast/ underarm being removed, I have selfishly struggled with one thought, “God, why don’t you just go ahead and lay it on me already instead of beating around the bush?! What’s it gonna be? Breast cancer? Ovarian Cancer? Cervical Cancer? Maybe even colon cancer! I’m tired of living my life so sick – if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Just put me out of my misery.”
I’m here to say, partially because of all your stories on here, I have gladly, 100% changed my mentality. I am aware of my elevated risks due to personal history as well as family history, however, if God does decide to “lay it on me”, I’m READY and I’m going to FIGHT and I’m going to WIN. I can’t believe I was ever so weak, that I felt like I couldn’t handle these chronic issues. Because I’ve seen how strong all of you ladies are, and I remember how strong my grandfather was, and how strong my aunt is. I will gladly kick butt – one day at a time, without any more complaints. I am tough and I will remain tough for myself, my husband, and my children. You all are such an inspiration to me and I thank you SO much for being so strong! I hope that I can maybe just touch one person with my experience, as you all have touched me. God Bless & keep fighting like girls!!!!
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.