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Meet Sadie12...

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 June is here and it's time to meet another of our awesome members. Sadie12 shares her story of her ovarian cancer in the midst of a pandemic and how she is moving beyond it.

Hello!
Lianne asked me to write my cancer story and boy…I have been reliving the last 20 months while doing so!  It’s been therapeutic but I’ve had to go through and chop it down.
I was diagnosed on Sept 2020, at age 56, as having High Grade Serous Ovarian cancer, likely Stage 3 (it turned out to be).  I was told over the phone by a gynecologist that I had met once the week before.  He told me that my case was being referred to an onocologist/surgeon at a cancer centre that was a 3.5 hour drive from my home and that I would no longer be his patient. He asked, ‘Do you have any questions?’ and I asked, ‘Does High Grade equal Aggressive?’.  He said ‘Yes’ and I replied ‘Okay, thanks for calling’.  He said, ‘Did you hear what I said?’  I don’t think I was in denial, but I had practical things to take care of.
At the time, my husband and I had recently and unexpectedly taken custody of a newborn.  We already raise his brother, who at the time was 5.  My only reaction to the news was to get into action around how we were going to get help for the kids while I was in the hospital and then recovering from surgery and beyond.
I told very few people, mostly family and a close friend who I knew would help my family.  I downplayed it to everyone…I didn’t want or need anyone to get dramatic on me.  I told management at work, but told them that I did not want my co-workers to know.  Looking back, I would have done this differently but at the time, I didn’t want to handle people’s reactions when I was trying to process it myself.
Three weeks later, I had a radical hysterectomy with my lymph nodes and omentum also removed.  The large tumour was behind my left ovary but the cancer had spread to the uterus, tubes, cervix, omentum (a flap lining of the peritoneum as understand it).  Luckily, it was not found in the lymph nodes. The surgeon thought she had ‘got it all’…but, I was to have 6 rounds of chemo in 3 week cycles to catch any microscopic cancer cells floating around there, as she put it. 
I was offered to be included in a trial, but I turned it down, due to the amount of time away from home and the fact that the trial was long and possibly for a placebo.  It was a very hard decision.
Chemo is different for everyone and it affects everyone differently.  After each chemo treatment, I felt like I had the flu for about 3 days and then start building up again. It took longer to bounce back after the 5th and 6th round.  I lost my hair and lost about 22 lbs.  It was actually a good look for me 😊.  The hair came back and so has the weight. 
I did have a reaction to one of the chemo drugs, which meant I was also pumped with anti-nausea meds and antihistamines throughout the chemo process.  My chemo days were long and I was pretty drugged up by the time I left.
I have struggled with anxiety over my lifetime.  Cancer, chemotherapy and the related drugs triggered that anxiety.  I kept my 5 year old home from school for many months, first while I was immune-compromised from chemo and then, because the schools were shutdown.  Take normal-COVID-shutdown stress on families and add cancer and a new baby…it was not easy.  I also had sleep disruption.
I know that COVID has caused a lot of delays in diagnosis and treatment which equals inadequate care for cancer patients.  These delays have been tragic for many people.   Personally, I have been very lucky to have had a quick diagnosis to surgery to treatment.  It is interesting that from the time of my surgery in October 2020 to Sept 2021, I only saw an oncologist via telemedicine, thanks to COVID and distance.    I’ve had the very best health care team that I could have asked for and I am forever grateful for that.
When I was in the hospital following my surgery, I reached out to a friend who was a 30 year survivor of breast cancer to share my news.  She sent me the name of a book by Bernie S. Seigel titled ‘Love, Medicine and Miracles’.  I did order it and read it while I was recuperating.  It inspired me to do what I could to keep my mind and body healthy.  I felt that if I left the medical team to treat the cancer, I would do what I could to be a healthy person continuing to live life fully.
I am a big believer in the mind-body connection to both heal our bodies and make us feel better.  I do yoga, walk, read and watch uplifting content, try to stay away from worries and the daily news, don’t accept other people’s drama, practice gratitude, meditate, do my thing (which is fibre art) for enjoyment.  
I am a fibre artist.  I create needlefelt pictures or fabric pictures and hand spin most of all.  I couldn’t hand spin or weave while I was recovering from surgery, but I am getting back to it.  During my recovery period, I worked on some therapeutic hand-stitch and embroidery pieces…one I share here.  


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Although being a mama with cancer was difficult, I know that having my 2 young sons depending on me kept me active, laughing and motivated.  My husband and my best friend were the biggest supporters for me and my little ones.  I hired a mama’s helper part-time for a year.  I am thankful that my husband was very comfortable with baby care, was able to work from home and that he never wavered in his belief that we would make it through to better days.  My brother and my best friend drove me to and from all my treatments.  Another relative helped with cleaning and picking up groceries.  As my treatments were at the height of COVID spread and before vaccines, it was difficult to let too many people into our circle. 
I made a good connection with a support worker at the cancer centre.  She was invaluable to me…talking me down when my anxiety got the best of me, helping me reframe my worries, practical things like helping with paperwork to apply for daycare subsidy or information for my LTD provider.  I’m in remission over a year, but I still connect with her once a month, even if it’s just to check in…but we always have things to talk about.
I found that the more I shared my news of cancer, the more positive stories I heard of people who had been given an ‘expiry date’ by their doctor that was now bypassed by 20 years.  Of course, there are also people who will start listing people they knew who died a horrible death from cancer and telling you that ‘it could be worse’. (…umm…thanks.)


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I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene, so I was able to go on Olaparib, a maintenance drug that has statistically improved the outcome of women with Ovarian cancer.    Because the BRCA2 gene increases my risk of breast cancer, I am on a high risk surveillance program.  Telling my extended family about the BRCA2 gene was hard to do.  I did it because knowledge can save lives and I know that if I had prior knowledge, perhaps my cancer would have been caught earlier. 
I have been ‘cancer-free’ for about 15 months now and feel good!
I returned to my part-time work in a public library in April 2022.  I always had the goal of returning to work, but the closer I got to the actual return, I had growing anxiety.  My LTD provider helped by having an occupational therapist work with me and negotiated a gradual return to work.  I also took a six week ‘Return to Work’ program with Wellspring that was very beneficial.  Since returning to work keeps me busier, I realize now that sometimes cancer hasn’t crossed my mind at all during the day.  At first, this freaked me out, as subconsciously I would think that if I forgot about it, it would sneak back!  That is quite silly, as I didn’t cause my cancer by not worrying about it, obviously!  
I have been online with the CancerConnection forum since the early days of my chemotherapy.  I was so happy to find people who ‘get it’.  I appreciate the emotional support, information about medication from people who have experienced it, uplifting stories, the chance to be heard by people who have been there, the chance to do something worthwhile if I can lift someone else up or share information I may have.
Here are things I know to be true and want to share with people just diagnosed:
  1. It's not your job to be positive for everyone else's sake...although, staying positive for yourself is good medicine.
  2. Every relationship you have will change...some for the better, some will go away areas you put yourself first. Hang on tight to the ones who say, either by action or words...'You will not go through this alone'.
  3. Keep in contact with a support worker, if you can. Build a relationship with a social worker so that when you do need to talk, the trust will already be there.
  4. Cancer is so much more than just physical! Treat your spirit and self in kind, healing ways (meditate, repel negativity in news or talk, creative arts, nature, gratitude journal, etc.).  Be selfish with your time.
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I live now with more clarity about what I want out of life and who I want to spend my time with.
I credit someone on the forum who wrote ‘Cancer may get me one day, but NOT TODAY!’.  I’ve shortened that to ‘NOT TODAY’ and say it in my head both if my head starts mulling about a recurrence, worrying about things I can’t change or if someone wants to invite me into their drama. ‘NOT TODAY’
All the best to you,
Sadie

Thank you Sadie for sharing your story and your new clarity. I have no doubt others will find your story helpful when they find themselves in a similar situation. NOT TODAY indeed!




Comments

"I don’t think I was in denial, but I had practical things to take care of." That sounds so familiar! How you've managed to juggle so many things is inspiring - and no doubt those little boys bring a lot of joy & light to you and your husband. Thanks for sharing your story with us Sadie12
  • Posted Fri 10 Jun 2022 10:54 AM EDT
Sadie12

What an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing.

Angus
  • Posted Thu 09 Jun 2022 04:31 AM EDT
nel
Thank you for telling your story Sadie12‍ . I am also got diagnosed with High Grade Serous Carcinoma on October 2021. Four chemo That did not worked, three immunotherapy that became toxic, two months of treatment break that just got extended to another two more months, waiting for clinical trial...got diagnosed with DCIS on my left breast...waiting for ultrasound. I am so anxious and so stressed on this treatment break and the waiting...i am so scared...
  • Posted Wed 08 Jun 2022 04:11 AM EDT
Oh nel‍ , you've had a rough time and now this! I'm very sorry to hear this. I can only imagine how stressed you must be.
There is always hope...hopefully, they treat the BC and get you into a clinical trial for the HGSOC.
You are not alone - keep reaching out to the group.
Sending you a big, comforting hug and holding you in my heart. Sadie
  • Posted Thu 09 Jun 2022 01:56 AM EDT
Sadie12‍ , you are Beautiful 😍. Thank you for sharing your story. And I know a lot of people who have and are still more than surviving! I don't want to hear those other stories either. I am going to check out the book you recommended. Thank you 😊
  • Posted Wed 08 Jun 2022 03:38 AM EDT
Thank you, Jamie‍ . I like your picture in your avatar...you have a joyful smile.
  • Posted Thu 09 Jun 2022 02:01 AM EDT
Sadie12

Your story is so important and I'm so glad you shared it. You are inspirational and honest.
I'm so thankful to call you my friend!!!...you have helped me beyond words.
Karen XO ❤
  • Posted Tue 07 Jun 2022 02:37 PM EDT
Backatcha, klay‍ !
XO
  • Posted Thu 09 Jun 2022 02:02 AM EDT

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