In February 2012, I was scheduled for my yearly gynecological routine visit. I was a little concerned because while I was trying to enjoy intimacy with my then boyfriend, I was in pain. I knew this was not the way I was supposed to feel so I was looking forward to going to the doctor and finding out if anything was wrong. I trusted my doctor because he has been treating me for 30 years, delivered my babies and was always very thorough. As I patiently waited, my name is finally called to go in. The doctor comes in and checks me. We make small talk and then he informs me that everything is ok with the exam. I hesitantly want to bring up what I am feeling, but I am a bit embarrassed, but I get the courage to ask.”Dr. I have an issue, I have a fairly new boyfriend, and while we are intimate, it hurts.” Well, the doctor looks at me and very confidently says, “Just tell him to go in slower”, I say ‘ok’ because I trust him and would never think to question him further. Never would I think it could be anything else, I am slim, exercise regularly, keep in good shape, eat properly, and so that was the end of my appointment. I leave and continue on with my day.
Since then, I continue my life, I am continuously having issues, during sexual relations, it continues to be painful. The whole time, I am thinking about the fact that the doctor said nothing was wrong. Months go by and now my pain gets worse, I start to have stomach aches after a meal and I just lay down. I was having some constipation issues but thinking nothing can be wrong because I have no other symptoms like a bloating stomach, or feeling tired or sick, just pain and constipation.
Fast forward to February 2013, a year goes by and now its time for my yearly gynecological visit again and I am looking forward to my checkup and to let the doctor know that my pain is still there, but now it is worse. When I see the doctor, he is ready to tell me again that everything is ok, but now I am concerned, so I tell him that I am still having that pain that I had last year, but now it is worse. He then says, let’s do a sonogram just to make sure everything is ok. It was a rainy stormy February day and some patients were not able to get to the office, so I was able to get my sonogram right there and then, I wait for the results and a half hour later, he calls me to his office and says. Well, there is something there, your right ovary is bigger than your left one, so now we have to do a screening. I say, what is a screening, he said a blood test for ovarian cancer. Now I start to really worry but I think, maybe it is just a cyst or a fibroid, never ever would I think at 45 it can be ovarian cancer.
Well, the weekend goes by and, of course, I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the blood results. My doctor went away so I call the office to ask for the test results and if another doctor can call me. I get a phone call about an hour later from the office and the doctor. says, Limor, we are very concerned, your CA125 came back at 287, normal one is 125 therefore I want you to go to Valley Hospital tomorrow and get a cat scan on your stomach and then go to see Dr. Burke, a gynecological surgeon for cancer.
March 5th could not come soon enough, but it did and I ended up having a full hysterectomy, the cancer was everywhere. I had it on my ovaries, my fallopian tube and even a part of my colon had to be cut, that is what was causing the constipation. Cells in the stomach tested positive. It was Stage 3b ovarian cancer. The growth was 15cm, the size of a babies head. This particular cancer doubles in size every 120 days…in one year it doubled 3 times. Imagine the difference it would have made if the doctor did not dismiss it back in 2012, just a year ago.
Staying in the hospital recovering was tough, but all I kept thinking about was getting better and beating cancer!! The doctor told me that attitude, diet and exercise is what will get me thru this unfortunate ordeal. I was determined to not let this change my life…just slow it down for a bit. I have 3 wonderful teenagers and I could not let them down. My son was a sophomore in college and I have twins, a boy and girl who were graduating high school and this was the best year of their life. I have been divorced for 10 years, a single mom, and have been there for my kids every day of their life. I had to be strong and I had to show them that being a good role model is how we were all going to get through this.
I was scheduled for 6 cycles of chemotherapy. They consisted of a big treatment of carboplatin and Taxol, and 2 Taxol treatments every week. A total of 18 weekly treatments of chemotherapy. The countdown started and every week after each treatment, I was one day closer to getting healthy.
Now, I had to get tested for the BRCA gene because I was so young to get diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and I knew in my heart that it would be positive… and it was. My next steps after chemo is a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery to prevent getting breast cancer. When you are BRCA 1 positive it is a 44% chance of getting ovarian cancer and 87% chance of getting breast cancer so I am very eager to take care of this because I do not want to get breast cancer and go thru this whole thing again.
Losing my hair and my eyebrows and eyelashes did not keep me from not wearing my wig I thought I would never leave the house without, but it was summer and it was just too hot, I just walked around looking the way I did and every day I said, “hair is overrated” and that this is only temporary and it will grow back. Since I was not able to go to the gym because of all the bacteria, I walked 2 to 3 miles every day to avoid neuropathy, take my anti nausea pills and just knew that I am a fighter and I am not willing to give up. My kids have been my rocks, telling me every day that I look beautiful without my hair and that I am going to make a positive difference in the world from this negative situation.
In Sept., I dropped my twins Hunter and Alexa off at UMASS Amherst for their first year of college. This was bittersweet because we are so close and they went thru everything with me. Even though they are there and I miss them so much, with the help of social media, text messaging, Skype and the phone, I know that they are in a good place and they are moving on with the next phase of their life the right way. My son Max is living at home with me, he is in his 3rd year at Ramapo College and even though he is home, he goes about his day and this reaffirms me that he is in a good place too and so am I. I have a little road ahead of me but it is just one day at a time…
It is a year later, March 10, 2014. I am scheduled for my reconstructive surgery on March 20th, 2014. Just 5 months after having a double mastectomy. I am looking forward to getting the metal and plastic out of my body and start to feel somewhat normal with the new implants. I go every 3 months to get bloodwork done and to get checked by the surgeon who did the hysterectomy and removed the cancer. I am trying to stay on top of my body so if anything comes up at any given time, between the doctors and me always being proactive , we will catch it early enough in order to treat it before it gets to be too late.
In life, we cannot choose the battles we are faced with. Thru these challenges we are given, staying strong, having hope and faith and having people in our life, like you all that care and help in every step of the way, is what helps get me through the tough times and helps me deal with these unplanned events in life.
Getting sick last year, made me realize that I got sick for a reason, I want to help anyone who is suffering to feel better. I plan to spread awareness and express to people that are even suffering from a little pain to not put it off and not listen to the doctor even when he dismisses it and says nothing is wrong. We know our bodies better than anyone else, and if something does not feel right, please get it checked out. I hope selling these products will help people feel better no matter what struggles they are facing in life. I want to help people and make a difference in their life. Some of the proceeds from selling these products will go to organizations that helped me along the way of getting back on my feet.
I want to Help People Feel Better, One Day At A Time…Always Have Hope and Never Give Up! THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.