Cancer Scare Update — Surgery, Post-op, Anxiety

Do you ever feel emotionally exhausted? Anxiety has pummeled me for months. Thankfully, it’s finally settling, but so much has happened that it’ll take time to resolve to my normal levels.

In early July I had major surgery (partial hysterectomy) though at the time of surgery it could have been more significant because my doctor was looking for cancer.

3.5 years ago, I was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells in a polyp in my uterus. After a D&C, in which my doctor scraped the entire lining of my uterus, no additional pre-cancerous cells were found.

However, I was labeled extremely high risk for developing endometrial cancer, and was told to either go on birth control to keep my endometrial lining thin and balance my hormones and have a yearly endometrial biopsy (a wait and see approach) OR get a hysterectomy in which they would keep my ovaries as long as there was no cancer/abnormalities.

After several extremely painful biopsies, I opted for surgery. Then COVID happened and I had to postpone it for another year.

One more year of constantly monitoring my period, watching for any abnormalities, and knowing I’d need to get at least one more painful biopsy. Another year of stress and fear of what if I developed cancer.

Then my OB retired. My new OB (a much younger woman) pushed back on my opting for a hysterectomy stating my age. She also kept bringing up children, even after I told her several times, I would not be having any. Honestly, she was inappropriate and I am switching to a new doctor. Not only was she pushing kids, even after I gave her very personal reasons why I was not having children (hint: medical reasons played a large role in our final decision, but were not the only reason we decided not to have children — it’s nuanced and complicated). Even then she was glib, basically saying that based on my negative test results she would be fine with a yearly vaginal ultrasound in lieu of the biopsies because of my severe pain and distress during the procedure. She was against surgery.

She suggested I visit the gynecological oncology department again for another consultation, since we were following the guidance provided by them 3 years ago.

When I met with the oncologist (who was amazing — kind, empathic, and a damn good surgeon) her first question was, “Why didn’t I have surgery 3 years ago?” She also told me that had I not lost the weight I had (70+ pounds and counting), she was 100% certain I would have eventually developed endometrial cancer. Given that I had lost weight, she couldn’t tell me either way, even though I was still extremely high risk.

Finally the pandemic settled enough and I went in for surgery nearly 13 weeks ago. The weeks leading up to surgery left me anxious, terrified, sad, confused, worried, angry, relieved, hopeful — name the emotion and I guarantee I felt it.

Thankfully, no cancer was found (though the pathology report later revealed they did find a small patch of pre-cancerous cells in my uterus — my cervix and Fallopian tubes were normal).

I am beyond ecstatic to finally have my uterus out. It’s a huge relief knowing I don’t have to worry about this anymore.

And yet, even though surgery went well with no cancer found and no complications, I had a hell of a time with anxiety during the early stage of my recovery. It got so bad that the afternoon I was released from the hospital, I had a major panic attack that sent me to the ER that same evening.

Silver lining, doctors thoroughly checked my heart and I can report it’s in good condition. Still for 4 weeks, I suffered horrible panic attacks where my brain and body were convinced there was something seriously wrong and so I was terrified I was going to die. Even though rationally I knew I was doing well and healing just fine.

Serious anxiety is no joke. I worked with my doctors to get me regulated and thankfully, weeks later, my healing is continuing to go well and my anxiety is settling.

I’ve always stated that these last 3 years have been a health journey. Me going vegan and developing healthy habits and losing weight has been to help me with the many health issues I’ve faced and continue to face.

Sometimes tho, I get so damn tired. I know I’ll continue to pick myself up and push through, but I think I need a few minutes to recover from not just the surgery and the few weeks after, but for the 3.5 years of stress and anxiety of being in limbo while having to choose between two agonizing decisions.

I absolutely made the right decision, but it opened Pandora’s box and now I have to cycle through my grief, loss, pain, and fear.

There’s still so much I need to process, but I’m getting there, day by day.

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