by The Survivor
In February 2005, at age 50, I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, Stage 3C. The symptoms of this cancer, I later learned, are called “whispers.” I had been to two different doctors who diagnosed entirely different problems. The first one said I had ulcers, while the next one said it was Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
All I knew was how horrible I felt. I was unable to eat or drink more than a swallow or two. I slept sitting up so I could breathe. My abdomen was so distended I couldn’t wear any underwear. All in all, I was totally miserable.
Finally, on a Wednesday morning, my husband helped me into the car and took me to the emergency room. The first question they asked was why hadn’t I gone to the doctor.
I had to explain myself over and over. The first doctor had diagnosed ulcers while standing in the doorway, given me sample medications and sent me home. The second doctor made a cursory examination, told me to eat lots of fiber and prescribed several new drugs.
Because I have Parkinson’s disease, I’m extremely cautious about taking new drugs. When I questioned him, the second doctor actually yelled at me and told me that he knew what he was doing. Then he told me I was obviously a hypochondriac and should stop wasting his time.
I must have told this story 10 times as different people came in and asked me to again relate what had happened. Several tests later, as the day faded into evening, the results of my CT scan came back.
The nurse knelt on the floor by my bed, holding my hands. Tears streamed down his face as they told me it was cancer.
They scheduled me for surgery on Monday, the soonest that the gynecologic oncologist could get there. Finally, I found myself alone in a room. Frightened, very sick, dehydrated and weak, I wondered whether I would survive.
My story had spread through the hospital, and as I lay in darkness that night, alone and afraid, the most amazing thing happened. Soon a doctor came in, held my hand and talked quietly of survival and of how good life is.
When that doctor had to go, a nurse took his place for a half hour of quiet reflection. Then a pastor prayed with me through a lonely hour until another doctor took his place and just sat quietly while I dozed.
I was never alone all that night. Every time I awoke I found someone quietly waiting with me, keeping the darkness away.
As of today I am cancer free, and hope I will stay that way. I will never forget those busy doctors, nurses and many other professionals who took time to sit by my bedside and to try in their own way to take away my fears.
Morning brought more than just daylight. It brought me peace.