Hello there! After threatening to do it for years, I’ve finally gotten my blog up and running. It’s not the blog I expected to write. When I first came up with the concept for my own blog I wanted to write about my life as a wife, mom and grandma to the cutest little boys on earth and my work as a musician and teacher. I hoped to throw in lots of humorous asides and funny anecdotes and generously share my opinions on things (my husband nicknamed me “Ms. Opinion” many years ago). Then I was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer. Now things are different. I still hope to write about all the original stuff but I want to deal honestly with what I’m going through at this time. And it’s a shitload of stuff. I hope you’ll stick with me.
Cast of characters:
Linda—age 56, piano teacher and pianist
W–husband, age 59, classical guitarist and IT guy (I have only the vaguest idea what he actually does)
M–son, age 27, married, two little boys (C, 3 and J, 6 months), works in the newspaper business
S–daughter-in-law, age 28, works in healthcare finance, mother of the amazing two little boys
R–daughter, age 21, student majoring in Spanish education
G–daughter’s boyfriend, age 23, works in marketing
How it began:
In mid-January I decided I no longer wanted to work as a church musician and I quit my job. It felt damned good, especially on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights when I no longer had to direct choir rehearsal. But there was the pesky business of not earning as much money, so I was making sure to cook more rather than us going out to eat all the time. On Monday, January 26, I made chicken marsala for dinner. It was good. Right after dinner I felt so bloated and gassy I thought I was going to float away. It really hurt. I used gas relief pills and my husband made several funny comments about what was emitting from my backside (it was awful). I really got him good when I let fly in our walk in closet at bedtime thinking he wouldn’t notice, but unfortunately for him he went in there and I heard him mutter something under his breath. I got a big laugh out of it. The next night I made pasta with bolognese sauce (again, very good) and the same thing happened again. Gas, bloating, pain, farting, the whole bit. And so it went night after night for nearly a week. Totally abnormal for me. But I felt fine. Still, I was wondering what was happening to me.
The following Tuesday I had a weird little pain low in my right abdomen. On Wednesday it was on the left side and more persistent and more uncomfortable. We had out of town guests that night and went to dinner with them. The food and company were good. That was our last night in our old lives. I got an appointment with my primary care physician the next day and he found a mass in my abdomen. Even before he examined me I said “I know that unexplained gas and bloating can be symptoms of ovarian cancer” and he looked at me in some surprise. The mass was quite pronounced and his nurse got on the phone immediately to arrange a CT scan. He said he thought it was probably diverticulitis. Silly me–my first thought was “I guess I can’t eat popcorn anymore!” Off I went to the hospital to drink contrast and wait for the scan. Within an hour my doctor called and said, “You’ve got masses on both of your ovaries and you’ve got to see your gynecologist tomorrow. Tell me who you see and I’ll call.” I definitely found this alarming but I wasn’t panicking–yet.
When I got home there was an email from the doctor’s office saying that my CT scan report was online. It was terrifying. Masses on both ovaries, nodules in various places. And the final line of the report referenced a “primary ovarian tumor.” I don’t know much but I know enough—that meant cancer. When W came home I was sitting at the kitchen table sobbing. He tried to make it better but there was no making it better. We ate dinner numbly and hung out until it was time for bed. I had to call M and tell him I wouldn’t be watching the little boys as I normally did on Friday because of what was happening. I remember crying and telling him “I love you and S and the boys.” I was devastated and shocked and I really didn’t know what to do. I asked for prayers for a medical situation via FB without any specifics. I’m one of the worst Christians ever but I really do love Jesus and wanted the believers intervening on my behalf!
The next morning (Friday, February 6) I was up and ready to go by the time the gynecologist’s office called me to arrange an appointment. My doctor was out for the day but I was offered an appointment with another physician. Wayne and I headed to Charlotte and waited for her to come in—a nice young woman who’d never met either of us. She said, “We’re all very unhappy about this CT scan. It’s not good news. You have stage III ovarian cancer.” I sat there bent over and staring down at my hands. I could feel W looking at me but I couldn’t look at him. The world was falling away from beneath me. And then my grandsons’ faces came into my consciousness and I looked up and said, “But I’m a grandmother.” How foolish. But the sense of loss at not seeing those little boys grow up was devastating. I asked for some kind of medication for my nerves and she left to get a prescription. I looked at W and he was shaking all over. We stood there and held one another. There are no words to describe what either of was feeling, unless they are “utter and complete devastation.” That kind of touches on it.
All I wanted to do was get outside somewhere and run and scream at the top of my lungs. I kept thinking I would feel better, so much better, if I could do that. But I can assure you there is no good place around the hospital for running and screaming. I didn’t think being arrested would help my situation so I swallowed my screams. But they were reverberating in my head. I couldn’t understand how I was walking and speaking calmly with that going on.
Before we left the gynecologist’s office I realized that I didn’t have to be on Weight Watchers for one more minute. I started yoga last April and loved it and then started WW in May. I’d managed to lose 28 pounds and had another eight or so to go. Suddenly counting points and keeping track of my food seemed completely irrelevant. I figured if I’m going to die I might as well eat and drink what I want. So here was a bright spot! We went to Bojangles Chicken for lunch. I actually managed to eat a piece of fried chicken and drink sweet tea. We had to call our son and tell him what was happening. At this point no one else knew.
Next time: meeting my oncologist