Many of you, who may have visited our website, are aware that we participate with Cancer Coalitions based here in Suffolk County, and nationally. The majority are geared towards helping women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, but there is another, The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC). Thanks to the Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition I was put in touch with the lead organizer of the Long Island Chapter of NOCC and we were able to set up cleaning services for women undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer.
Did you know that ovarian cancer is rarely discovered while it's in its early stages? This is because the symptoms are ones we women experience regularly, or just on occasion. The difference is they persist when typically they fade away after a day or so. Some of their common symptoms are abdominal bloating and pain, spotting between periods, frequent urgent need to urinate, weight gain or loss... the list goes on.
I share this because these were things I did not know, but after yesterday I educated myself.
You see something beautiful happened yesterday at work. Over the years I've talked to many women who receive services and while at various stages of their journey. Most of them undergo treatment, and survive to live many more years, some do not. The phone calls with the families of those who don't make it are alway the hardest. Typically gratitude is expressed by the family for our team, and all others affiliated with the coalitions for the help it provided their loved ones during their final days/ weeks/ months, and tears are shared.
Today I met one of the women. Her and I have become phone buddies over the last 2.5 years. Her journey started at age 42 when thanks to appendicitis the cancerous lump was found on her ovary. Looking back all the signs were there, but she didnt know they were signs to look out for, even some serious ones like infertility and pain during sex. She underwent surgery for a full hysterectomy, as well as the removal of her appendix and spleen, and began treatment to eradicate the cancer. Part of her treatment plan was to be proactive and get a double mastectomy, because 95%(ish) of women with ovarian cancer, also will have breast cancer. Despite all of this the cancer came back, turns out she has the genetic markers. Not only has it come back once, but twice, To date she has had 5 major surgeries, two on her breast and 3 on her abdomen. And she did it all in the best of spirits, were there hard times yes, but she pushed through and made the best of it. I got to see photos of the day she saved her head and how fun her husband and friends made it for her. (She even rocked a mohawk for a few minutes with a badass smile). We've talked on the phone, joked through texts, sharing many laughs and I finally had the honor of meeting her. She noticed I had arrived and came right over to me and gave me the biggest hug and we started talking and I heard her story, her journey, her strength, the love of her husband; being there when she was the most vulnerable. Then she went outside and introduced me the Pulky, her wild woodchuck that she befriended who now comes and eats out her hand. I also saw her new She Shed where she makes crafts for herself and others (Both pictured here).
Ovarian cancer is a silent killer because by the time you know you have it - it may very well be too late. Educate yourself and the women in your life!
To reflect, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for today's experience, and the semi professional bond I have formed with this amazing woman over the years. When I left her house after encouraging her to never stop sharing her story with people, I then asked her permission to share her story myself, and she said to me "Yessssssssss.... You are my long lost kindred spirit sister" This woman is someone I will never forget.
Shore To Shore Cleaning Inc