THE EH-SO HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH

This time last year, I was recovering from surgery that would reduce my risk of ovarian cancer. (If you missed it, you can catch the brief video here). It would be the last of the surgeries to reduce my risk from my genetic predisposition — the BrCa gene (breast and ovarian cancer gene) that gave me a 80-90% chance of developing breast cancer and a 45-60% chance of developing ovarian cancer. I wasn’t interested in playing those odds, of course. 

This blog was founded as I prepared for my mastectomy back in 2010. I wanted to train for and run a marathon (I ended up running two 1/2 marathons – close enough, right?) before my surgery — a la marathon before mastectomy.

In January 2014, I had my oophorectomy. Now, this was a 15-minute procedure and a 3 day recovery time. Well, the 15-minute procedure went just fine. But, my 3 day recovery time turned in to over 3-5 weeks of infections, allergic reactions, and what felt like my insides turning in to rock.

Once I got all of that under control and my life, sort of, back in order. I started working out again. In June, I was running regularly — 5-6 times a week and building up some serious mileage. In September 2014, I decided that I wanted to run another half-marathon. I was feeling great! I was easily building up my long runs to 6, 7, 8, 9, and then 10 miles. Though I was tired at the end of those runs, my mind and my heart were energetic and filled with joy. I was growing stronger each run, and I began to crave the wind on my face and feeling of sweat building up on a 40 degree day. I loved it.

Knowing that the cold, Northeast conditions were not conducive to winter runs, I registered for the Disney Princess Half Marathon for February 22, 2015. I spent weeks thinking about my costume, and even posted a blog about “I’m not going to tell you what I’m dressing as — you’ll have to wait and see!”

Well, you won’t be waiting to see anything….

On September 30th, as my running rhythm was as smooth as a Billie Holiday melody, I began to bleed. Given that I was in surgical menopause, this was not a good sign. But, I let it go for a while, thinking this was just going to pass.

Well, one week passed.

One month passed.

Two months passed.

I was still bleeding, and it was getting worse.

I finally called my doctor (yes, yes, I know… I should have gone in sooner) and went in for lots of tests. No one could figure out why I was bleeding.  All of my tests came back negative for the usual marker — cancer, etc. The doctors adjusted my hormone levels which only left me depressed and “flat.” I knew that exercise would help me, but I was bleeding so much that I couldn’t stand to be further than 1 minute from a bathroom.

In December, the doctor did a procedure in which they stripped my uterus to see if they could minimize the bleeding.

That didn’t work either.

For Christmas, my family and I travelled to Florida and went to Disney World. I mapped out the race course and memorized where all of the the nearest bathrooms were to the race course.  After a long day in the park, just before the big Mickey Mouse signs faded in my rearview mirror, I whispered, “See you real soon“, even though I had spent most of the day at the park changing pads or racing for a bathroom just before a major accident happened.

There’s something about Disney that makes you believe that anything is possible.

When we returned back from our trip, I called my oncologist to ask what my options were. At this point, I had been bleeding continuously for over 3 1/2 months. We discussed a possible hysterectomy but first she wanted me to go and see a menopause specialist. After all, my symptoms weren’t indicative of cancer, per se, so she felt she couldn’t really help me.

My appointment with the menopause specialist is on February 13 — just a few days before I was going to board a plane for Florida. I guess this whole time I had hopes that maybe the doctor would give me some sort of magic advice and that I would go back to training for the half-marathon …. with less than a week to go.

Well, on Friday, January 23rd at 10:00am, I made the call.

“Hello, and thank you for calling Walt Disney World where every day is a magical day! My name is Marsha, how can I help you today?”

She sounded so happy.

“I’m calling to cancel my reservation, please.”

I choked back tears.

I told her that I wouldn’t be running the half-marathon that weekend and so I needed to cancel my reservation for the Disney resort. I just couldn’t bring myself to actually go there and see all the runners gearing up for the Expo or coming back from the course. My heart just wasn’t ready to break that hard.

I’d be lying to you if I said it was all fine. I’d be lying if I said to you that I’m totally okay with this and, “Whew, glad I saved a few hundred bucks.” But, I’m not fine. I’m sad. I’m disappointed. And, I feel betrayed by my body.

I’ll make it down there one day, I’m sure of it.

After all, where the hell else am I gonna wear my Lilo-inspired running outfit?? Lilo

Peace, love, and Mahalo,

Liza

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2 Responses to THE EH-SO HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH

  1. Sheila says:

    Feeling frustrated, angry and sad and I am not the one going through this! I am not the one who made that call nor do I continue to have miserable symptoms. But when I read your blog, I am in pain and depressed. This doesn’t mean that I am sad by reading it, it just means that your power in writing and sharing is truly you talking to me and me alone. So know that I care about you and await some sort of positive resolution to all of this. You are loved by so many and I am one of them. Here’s to hoping that the menopause doctor has some good and easy answers.
    Sheila

  2. CSTryon says:

    I can relate! I had a bilateral mastectomy along with 6 lymph nodes removed when I was 47. It was stage one, invasive, estrogen +. I had my ovaries removed at the same time. What should have been a 30-45 minute procedure turned into an hour and a half procedure.

    I had more complications from the ovarian removal than I did the bilateral mastectomy. I am not an athlete. I’m just trying to stay healthy.

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