Sunday, December 02, 2012

Truly Thankful for Good Health

Okay, I didn't talk about this on here earlier because I was grappling with a lot of fear myself and didn't want to "put it out there"  but now that my health scare has been relieved, I will share my thoughts and concerns and let other women know about it just in case it might help someone else searching for information along the way.  If you are squeamish about hearing about female stuff. . . . then you may want to skip this posting.   

For years and years, I've had problems with my female parts and hormone levels. First, with having fibroids at a fairly young age - and a very early premature birth of my daughter at 31 weeks that may have been at least partially caused by a fibroid that grew large fueled by pregnancy hormones.   

Perhaps not surprisingly, I went through a bad time with perimenopause - lots of very intense symptoms but about 18 months ago, at the age of 50, it  finally finished with all that because the periods stopped and seemed home free .. ... yay!  But not so fast . . . .  Then about six months ago, I started gaining weight only in my abdomen but about - 14 lbs and several inches with a belly that looked like a pregnant belly.  It wasn't caused by sudden overeating or lack of exercise.  No matter what I did, I felt "crummy" along with hot flashes and other menopause symptoms, lack of sleep, moodiness, teariness, lack of energy, depression  etc.

After reading numerous books on menopause, and then attending a bioidentical hormone workshop in October, I decided to finally bite the bullet and find a gynecologist who specialized in menopausal issues and might be able to help me get to a solution for all these problems.  In the past 3 years, I've seen 3 different ones - but they each seemed unsympathetic and dismissive, and belive it or not, the 2 women were even worse than the 1 man I'd seen during those years.  So finally, through this seminar's referral of several possible physicians, I latched onto a really EXCELLENT and through OB who seemed to take my symptoms seriously, ran several blood tests, sonograms, hormones tests, exams etc. and finally decided there was some reason for concern.  He pointed out that I have hormone levels that are so extremely low, at this point, I have the hormone levels of a 70 year old woman.  After being "estrogen dominant" for decades, there are now extremely low levels yet I have a very thick uterine lining - as measured by external and internal sonogram AND there seemed to be a fairly substantial growth again - not sure what it was, but somehow it seemed to be surviving in spite of low hormone levels to feed it.  So this new doc scheduled me for surgery the day before Thanksgiving.  He thought it would be just a routine biopsy and D&C that would take about 10-15 minutes.   He urged me to do it pretty quickly and not to wait around based on all my symptoms.

After reading about my symptoms and googling "uterine biopsy" I became really really worried about the possibility of uterine cancer.    One huge help to me was finding Fran Drescher's book called Cancer Schmancer.    Fran had Stage 1 uterine cancer just over five years ago and went through a situation really similar to mine.    I absorbed this book in the days preceding my biopsy and although it scared the beejesus out of me in some ways, it also gave me lots of helpful information and questions  . . . . things to consider if the biopsy came back malignant.  Plus, it made me aware of what to watch out for in the future, because after all the reading I've done on the subject recently, it's a fairly common diagnosis in post-menopausal women and knowing the symptoms will keep me on high alert.  Even more than other cancers, if you catch this one early on, you have a much better chance of survival. 

On Wednesday afternoon, I had the surgery  . . . and it was surgery where they knocked me out with a general anesthetic.  If you ever have one of these, by the way, some doctors don't knock you out for the procedure but I was VERY glad to have been asleep, because he ended up removing a very large fibroid and it took a bit over an hour for the procedure.  There was cramping and bleeding afterwards, but seemed much better to have been done the way it was done as outpatient  . . .by Thursday (Thanksgiving) I was resting comfortably and able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my family.   I just took it easy all last weekend  . . . but doctor said pathology report would be back early the next week.

On Monday evening, he called to tell me there was no malignancy  . . . . no cancer . . . just a large fibroid.  Whew!

So just to relieve everyone's mind, for those who knew and worried with me. . . . thanks immensely for the prayers, thoughts of expressions of concern.  I'm so glad to be healthy and fortunate that at least for now, not to have to face the cancer burden that so many women and men go through.  But I'm also glad that I'm educated about it now . . . and have some thoughts about therapies I'd want to try if it ever comes up again.   

I go tomorrow for a follow-up appt with my doctor and hopefully will learn if I'm able to get on some hormones that will help make me feel better and balance out many of the symptoms that have been bothering me.  Not sure what he'll recommend, but I will get back with anyone who wants to hear more. 


HattieMae said...

Oh my goodness! I am so glad that all went well for you. When I began to read, I felt as if I was reliving the story of my best friend from childhood. She had the same symptoms you did. Her out come was a 4 pound malignant tumor with 6 months to live. Heart breaking for sure. She did fight the cancer and was in remission for 5 years after treatment. She was a warrior and was never to let this defeat her spirit. She passed a year ago in May. I feel fortunate to have known her as a wonderful woman.
You are blessed and I am relieved to know that your out come is so positive. Take care of yourself, it sounds like you have a wonderful support system. God Bless you, Love Tammie

Christine said...

Oh Chelle I'm so glad you got everything done and its all cancer free!!! Woo hoo for you!!

ChelleC said...

Well, in follow up to this, I may need a hysterectemy because I'm still having heavy bleeding from the fibroids and they can't stop it. So it looks like more surgery is in my future. Gack!!!!

Rebecca said...

well was going to say im so glad things turned out as they did and that you have come out on top and now see this new comment that you will be back in for surgery. do you know when it will be? please keep us updated and know you're in my prayers. take care rest up. lots of hugs!