The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition has a motto: “It whispers, so listen.” This means that the symptoms of ovarian cancer are subtle; you have to listen very carefully to your body in order to determine if you are indeed suffering the symptoms. They include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, trouble eating or feeling full quickly, frequent urination, fatigue, upset stomach or heartburn, pain during sex, and menstrual changes (find a complete description of symptoms at NOCC).
The reason I’m writing today: I have had several of these symptoms for the last three or four months. I’ve been wanting to write this entry for a while now, but I just haven’t been able to face what this could all mean. I should also say, before my husband panics, that I have an appointment with my gynecologist on Wednesday.
I’ve been telling myself that there are lots of reasons I could be having these symptoms; this is probably why they say that ovarian cancer whispers – these symptoms are ones that most people probably experience at various times, possibly even on a daily basis. Here’s how I’ve justified the symptoms I have as normal:
1. Pelvic/abdominal pain: I’ve felt soreness, like mild PMS cramps and sometimes even like an extremely mild labor contraction, consistently every day all day for a few months. I tell myself that it’s from my IUD, which has perhaps moved or is loose, or maybe my body has decided it doesn’t like it anymore after 18 months.
2. Upset stomach/heartburn: I have never in my life had either of these issues. I’ve never had indigestion or anything. I can eat anything and not get sick – stomach of steel, I always say. But lately I have been getting heartburn. I tell myself this is either from age or it’s from some combination of new medicines I’m taking.
3. Trouble eating/feeling full quickly: I go through periods where I am hungry constantly (like today), but then as I start eating, I begin to feel almost nauseous. I tell myself that this is because I’ve made major changes to my diet (a lot less processed food, sugar, chemicals, preservatives, etc) and that my stomach just isn’t sure what to make of all of this.
4. Bloating: I’m eating way more fruits and vegetables that I ever have before, and I’m also drinking a lot more water. So I chalk this up to extra fluid my body isn’t used to.
5. Pain during sex: Since I had my baby two years ago, I have had this problem. I told my previous gynecologist about it right after the baby, and after an exam, she said she didn’t see any reason for it; she recommended using lubrication. Over a year later, I still have this problem.
6. Menstrual changes: My period is like a freakin’ murder scene. I tell myself that this is because of the IUD, and it probably is because that’s when it started, and it’s a known side effect from a paragard.
So, there you go. What concerns me the most is the pelvic/abdominal pain. I know it’s not normal to have that all the time, even if it is bearable. And I suspect mainly that this is all psychosomatic – I’m really worried about planning the hysterectomy, it’s on my mind 24 hours a day, and it’s probably affecting me physically. Otherwise I feel great. People have been commenting to me that I seem brighter lately, cheerier – friends have even noticed it on the phone!
But on the other hand, maybe my body is whispering to me. Now that I was diagnosed with BC at such a young age, it would not surprise me at all if this turned out to be cancer. I lucked out big-time with the BC. It was caught early and I didn’t need any treatment. But I’ve never heard of anyone not needing treatment with OC. If they find something, I’m headed for chemo. And then the hysterectomy will be the least of my problems.