An Inconvenient Truth
Those words, "You have cancer", are not words any of us want to hear. But too many of us do. I was one of those, and I was in absolute fear for the longest time. I remember one time, sitting in the waiting room for radiation, I was sharing some time with another patient. She was an older woman, down from the country for her treatment, travelling alone, staying in the city, and going through this awful time by herself. I just wanted to hug her. She reminded me of my grandmother. And I asked her what she was getting treatment for. And she told me gynaecological cancer. I was shocked. It was such an unexpected answer. I'd never really thought about it before. Not until then. But then I started to think about it... The thing is, I found that, over time, the constant exposing myself to all manner of people who poked and prodded my chest to be disconcerting. I was especially shy with men…..for some strange reason. I was okay at first, but it was the time factor: it wore me down, and I became incredibly uncomfortable.
Well. What about that darling woman? She was stripping down and going through an incredible assault to her modesty on a daily basis. When the true extent of what she was enduring became apparent, the realization sank in. And this is what our sisters must face who are confronted with a diagnosis of gynaecological cancer. It goes straight to the core of our womanhood. This alone can be enormously confronting.
In the following blog post, our very own Ambassador and Not So Mommy… blogger Brandi Lytle shares some pretty unsettling truths about this challenging cancer as part of her blog post series on the Awareness Ribbons for our community. As Brandi warns, the post contains some triggers–I can vouch for that! Her post brought up a lot of stuff for me, so it may also do this for you. The above recollection is one of those memories this article evoked.
But more than that, this is a particularly important post. Because it reminds us to be advocates in our health care, we must always advocate on our behalf. And, as Brandi says, our health– our life– may very well depend on this!
Awareness Ribbons for the Childless Community:
Written by Brandi Lytle, of Not So Mommy…
SENSITIVE POST WITH A WOBBLE WARNING: In this post, I candidly speak about my Nana’s cancer scare, triggers at the gynecologist office, women’s health issues, pregnancy, breast-feeding, and more. Though powerful and important information about ovarian cancer is included in this blog, there are possible triggers throughout. Please, only read if you are feeling strong enough today.
When I was about 9-years-old, we had a scare that my Nana might have cancer. I’m not sure if it we were worried about ovarian, endometrial, or uterine cancer, as I was quite young at the time. But I remember those deep feelings of concern. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons I am diligent about going for my well woman exam every year. I want to make sure I do everything in my power to stay healthy.
Now, I understand that going to the gynecologist is a triggering experience for we childless women. Last time I was there, the biggest pregnant belly met me as I exited the restroom. It took all the strength I could muster not to have a wobble right there in the waiting room. (Pregnant bellies are a major trigger for me. I think they always will be…) Time before that, I had to go to the ultrasound room because I was having a lot of pain and the doctor wanted to check that I didn’t have any cysts. Looking at my empty uterus on the big screen… Well, I’m surprised I didn’t burst into tears right there in front of the technician.
I tell you all this, to say… I get it. The gyn office isn’t a fun place for we childless.
But somehow, we must gather up all our strength and face this trigger-filled place. Because our health depends on it.
According to Adventist Health Care, “Women who have experienced a full-term pregnancy during their peak childbearing years … tend to be at lower risk. Studies also indicate that breastfeeding may lower your risk as well.”
Unfortunately, we childless women were not able to do either of these. That means, we are at higher risk for ovarian cancer.
“Unfortunately, most women do not experience symptoms in the early stages of ovarian cancer,” says Dr. Arshad Sheikh, MD. Personally, I’m not sure the symptoms would alert many childless women to the possibility of ovarian cancer anyway, as they mimic symptoms of infertility, endometriosis, PCOS, and other illnesses many childless endure.
Adventist Health Care lists eight symptoms of ovarian cancer as follows:
- Pelvic or belly pain
- Trouble eating
- Urinary urgency
- Upset stomach
- Pain during sex
- Irregular periods
As a post-menopausal endo warrior, I experience six of these symptoms on a regular basis. So…
Because we childless are at higher risk, because symptoms do not normally show in the early stages, and because the symptoms mimic so many other conditions we childless suffer from, it truly is vital that we go to our gyn screenings. And that’s not just my opinion. Medical professionals state, “One of the best ways to catch ovarian cancer early is to get your recommended screenings.”
So, wear the TEAL ribbon and Tell Every Amazing Lady to get screened.
Read more in the Awareness Ribbons Series...
Childless Not By Choice
The next post in the "Awareness Ribbons for the Childless Community" Series will be published March 2022.
Brandi Lytle, founder & owner of Not So Mommy… and creator of the olive green Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon, is a wife, dog mom, aunt, host mom, infertile woman living an imperfectly perfect life in South Carolina, USA with her husband, Dane, and fur baby, Maddie. She is redefining what momhood means to her and strives to focus on the bright sides of being childless. Her hope is to inspire others to accept, embrace, and redefine—discovering a Plan B that brings them joy!