This time last year I was at the beginning of the most difficult season of my life.
There is nothing quite like the icy terror that grips you simultaneously by the stomach and throat and holds fast when your body is telling you something is very wrong, and you are trapped in the agony of waiting for a diagnosis.
Mine came only after several extremely stressful weeks of tests, scans, blood work and major surgery to remove an 18cm, 4lb “suspicious mass” from my bloated abdomen: ovarian cancer.
At the time I avoided reading statistics, searching instead for survivor stories to ease my mind. There were pitifully few to be found.
Now I know this is because ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynaecological cancer. And because no early detection screening tests exist (and early symptoms can so easily be written off as something else), this cancer is very rarely caught early.
I am the fortunate exception, and after 6 months of challenging chemotherapy (with no support visitors allowed, because, did I mention this all happened during a global pandemic?!), was declared to be in remission (doctors never say cured with ovarian cancer as the likelihood of recurrence is so high).
But I don’t want to be the exception. I want better screening. I want more effective and less brutal treatment. I want more survivor stories.
That’s why, this September, some wonderful pals and I will be taking part in the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope, tracing the route I worked up to tackling the Sunday before each chemo treatment, and heading up the Baldwin steps to Casa Loma 6 times (one for each month of my chemo treatment).
Every dollar our team, “Ovariantics” raises supports Ovarian Cancer Canada, the only national charity that champions the health and well-being of women with ovarian cancer and others at risk of this disease. Funds will be used to fund vital research, spur advocacy efforts, and provide support so that we can help women with, or at risk of, ovarian cancer live fuller, better, longer lives.