Cancer Journey/ HEALTH

    Oophorectomy Surgery Next Week {Cancer Prevention Update}

    oophorectomy surgery

    It has been a long time since I have written a post with ‘surgery’ in the title. I’m very grateful for that. My last surgery was in 2015, and I have always brought you along for the journey, so I am writing to fill you all in.

    You have been so supportive and kind in this cancer story of mine, and it does my heart good.

    I also write about it to bring a sense of purpose out of all of this. I’ve always said if my posts can help someone feel less alone or help cancer fighters make decisions with ongoing cancer prevention, then I will keep writing.

     

    Getting Used to the Idea of Surgery

    I remember a settled confidence about surgeries from 2010-2015. I was in warrior mode (especially the first 2 years) and just did what needed to be done.

    I feel that confidence is missing now and frankly, it is frustrating.

    Shouldn’t I be more grounded as I get older? I did just have a birthday (43 years!) and I’m so thankful for the years, but yet I feel a little nervous.

    Why my apprehension?

     

    Maybe because I was younger then.

    Maybe because I had 6 surgeries in 5 years and all that practice brought an almost ‘normal’ to it.

    Maybe because I am a 2 on the Enneagram and it is in me to be a helper to others, less in me to be the one being helped.

    Maybe because back then anxiety was not as much in the picture…I think this one is the main reason.

    Maybe because I hate adding to our medical bills and feel guilt over this, even though my sweet husband says we do what is necessary and is so gentle about this.

     

    I think it is all of the above.

    Not only was I younger then, but so were my girls. Now that I am thinking about it (processing while writing) I think this is also why this surgery feels different.

    When they were young I could protect and hide pain from them to an extent.  I put on a brave face when they got home from school and tried my best to keep things normal.

    Now they are old and smart and there is no hiding realities of cancer from them. They have been in this cancer world, and have loved the same people I do who have experienced great loss due to cancer. They know.

    My oldest is studying to be a nurse and is learning how the body works. She will probably read all about the details of my surgery and maybe even watch a YouTube video of the surgery…eek!

    She definitely has a medical brain that can handle this…but as her Mom it is my instinct to protect.

    Really I just don’t want them to experience worry or pain because of me, but I know that is not realistic. That would make me a perfect Mom and this life a perfect life and we all know that is not the case!

    I know a good God who loves them more than I even do and who has promised to use pain in their life for good so I will choose to believe Him in this!

    As far as being out of practice and my anxiety…yes, these are two very real things contributing to my apprehension of surgery.

    My oncology nurse asked me about depression and anxiety a few months back and told me that it is a very real struggle and that I can blame her and the very thing she held in her hand…a Zoladex injection.

    These injections have shut down ovaries chemically for almost 4 years now, which shut down hormones that can feed my type of cancer. Shutting them down enables me to take a cancer medication that can only be taken if you are in menopause.

    She said they shut down happy endorphins and make anxiety and depression a struggle in her patients. Her words help me feel less alone but very sad for others who are getting them too.

    I struggled with these things before the shots, but not to the extent that I have (with anxiety) the last few years.

    These monthly Zoladex injections are very, very expensive, (almost $2,000 per injection!) and the grant we received to pay for them ran out, so I had to quit them. I’ve had a 3-month break from injections and cancer medications and I have so enjoyed it!

    It has brought some relief from joint pain, hot flashes and several other fun side effects that I will spare you from the details of.

    But, it is time to become protective again. I always knew it was only a break. I have 3 more years of treatment.

    Now, instead of shutting my ovaries down chemically, we are going to remove the ovaries instead, hence surgery.

     

    Breast Cancer patient collage{2010 & 2011}

     

    Cancer Prevention Surgery – Oophorectomy

    There are several ways this surgery helps with cancer prevention. Like I said before, my cancer is fed by estrogen, so suppressing estrogen is important. Ovaries are a key player in estrogen production, so they gotta go. 

    Also, in order to continue taking the aromatase inhibitor which is a cancer prevention medication I’m on (I take it for 10 years, and I am in year 7), one must be in menopause, so this surgery (Oophorectomy) will make this happen immediately.

    Lastly, my ovaries have misbehaved over the years, causing us to try on different cancer medications and switch from Tamoxifen to Aromatase Inhibitors.

    I constantly grew painful cysts on my ovaries while taking Tamoxifen and had to have regular ultrasounds to make sure the cysts were not cancer. We switched up my meds after 3 years of that.

    I’ve recently had pain since being on my 3-month medication break, an indicator that my ovaries are misbehaving again, or trying to switch back on, which we do not want.

    Stubborn little suckers! Makes me kinda proud…not really but sorta. 🙂

    After much debate with my Oncologist and time in prayer, I’ve decided to submit to her strong opinion of just getting them out for good. I’ve always done what she has suggested and trust her completely, even despite my anxiety about it all.

     

    basket of items used while healing from surgery

    {remember this ‘by the bed’ basket post I wrote? To keep things within arms reach while healing.}

    The Forced Slow of Surgery

    One thing I am pretty used to is having surgery during the winter months. I had my mastectomy the week between Christmas and New Years in 2010, and have vivid memories of arriving back home on New Year’s Eve.

    I had one of my reconstructive surgeries on Halloween—I remember being in and out of sleep when my girls kept coming in my room to show me their costumes and candy stash. Such precious memories…they were so young!

    Another reconstructive surgery was in December before Christmas…my “special” implants got stuck on a plane in Texas because they got snow there and all of Texas shuts down when snow comes! Lol.

    You..my readers, made jokes about where they were stuck because everything gets “bigger” in Texas. Ha!

    I used that postponed surgery to do all my Christmas shopping in one day (online shopping was not the norm back then) and have precious memories of my sweet sister-in-law Tanya helping me wrap them all so I wouldn’t have to worry about it after surgery. 

    It really was a God-kiss and perfect timing to have surgery postponed and get all my Christmas stuff done before surgery!

     

    God’s Hand in the Midst of Surgery

    Here is the thing. As I look back, I see God’s hand clearly on me and he has always guided my path. I know he will do the same this time, even if it takes my emotions some time to catch up to what my brain and heart knows. God’s got this.

    I will be ok and I know I will find the strength within to be brave…because He is in me! I know I will use the “forced- still” of healing (4-8 weeks of healing they say) to really lean into the meaning of the Christmas season.

    I will choose to see the gifts!  I will find my thankful and list the gifts…healthcare! A doctor I trust! Sisters who create meal trains and friends/family who bring meals! No surgeries in 3 years! No cancer for 8 years! So, so many gifts.

    And yes, you better believe I will use surgery as an excuse to hygge!

    Prayer Requests

    Are you are one who prays for others? If so may I ask you to lift these things up?

    • That surgery would go smoothly, healing would happen quickly, and God would protect my people from worry.
    • Pray specifically for the protection of my literal heart. There are studies that show an increase of heart attacks in women down the road who have had this surgery. I already have a chance of increase due to chemo and radiation, so pray protection and a strong heart….and that I would be faithful in doing my part in this — meaning regular exercise and good diet!
    • Pray specifically that I will not react to sutures, bandage adhesive or anesthetic, (I have sensitivities and history of this) and that my lungs will stay clear after surgery….I got pleurisy after my last surgery and it was not fun.
    • Pray that my IV will take right away. I have a history of my veins being stubborn and it can take a bit. I also have a history of IV being blown right as they put me to sleep and it was very painful. Not a good way to fall asleep for surgery. I remember panicking for a few seconds, but then the sweet relief of sleep came as they quickly used my port instead…

    As you can see, I have so many good memories of God taking care of me, but also have these memories that create anxiety in me, which is why I ask you to pray.

    Again, thank you for the prayers, and always coming along with me.

    Follow my Instagram stories for updates!


    You might also like:

    My Cancer Story

    7 Years Surviving Cancer – A Slow, Steady, Apprehensive Dance Celebration

    A Bump in the Road on this Journey of Breast Cancer

Top