by Joanie Shawhan
Stop. Listen! Do you hear the whispers of ovarian cancer? This insidious disease assaults over 20,000 unsuspecting women per year and is the most lethal of all female cancers. Since there are no screening tests, it is often diagnosed in the latter stages.
Despite my background in oncology nursing, I missed the whispers of ovarian cancer. Over the course of several months, I experienced nausea, mistaking these episodes for the flu. Fleeting thoughts of ovarian cancer crept into my mind, but I dismissed them. I rationalized. This nausea is too infrequent to be ovarian cancer.
But in September 2006, I rolled over in bed and felt a hard grapefruit-size mass in my abdomen. The whisperer roared.
My doctor thought it was a uterine fibroid, but we needed to schedule an ultrasound. In the darkened room, the ultrasound technician furrowed her brow and shot me a glance. Something was wrong.
After examining the images, my doctor announced her verdict—ovarian cancer—the size of a cantaloupe. She rattled off the tests and surgery that needed to be scheduled. Words spilled over her lips, sounding foreign and distant. I sat numb, frozen. Is she talking to me?
I had witnessed the devastating side effects of chemotherapy suffered by my patients, and vowed that I would never undergo chemo. But now, I felt powerless to carry out this resolution. The side effects of the drugs terrified me: baldness, fatigue, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and a life-threatening allergic reaction.
My nursing scrubs and shoes gave way to tieback gowns and skid-free gripper socks. I was one of them, dragged through the theme park of cancer.
Today, I am cancer free. I lost myself to ovarian cancer, but in losing myself, I found a new purpose and calling in my life—to advocate for and educate women regarding ovarian cancer. One way I do this is by writing encouraging articles for women undergoing chemotherapy.
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Stop and listen for the symptoms that whisper. The life you save may be your own.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:
v Pain or pressure in the pelvis, abdomen or lower back
v Abdominal bloating or a sense of fullness
v Nausea, constipation, diarrhea, gas or indigestion
v Urinary frequency or urgency
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor.
Joanie Shawhan is an ovarian cancer survivor and a registered nurse. She writes encouraging articles for women undergoing chemotherapy. Her publishing credits include Coping with Cancer magazine and God Still Meets Needs. She speaks to medical practitioners in the Survivors Teaching Students program. Check out her blog at www.joanieshawhan.com.
This is really going to sound strange, but I’m thankful for breast cancer.
Yes, you read that right.
Three years ago, I had the shock of my life. What I thought was an inflamed milk duct was diagnosed as breast cancer.
I’ve always been a Christian, I was raised in a Christian home and accepted Christ as my Savior when I was nine. I was in church, Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. My parents had Bible studies in the home. I grew up immersed in Bible.
So, it might come as no surprise to find out I married a pastor.
Well, being married to a pastor doesn’t mean that you take the time needed for devotions, praise and worship, or the necessary things that make you grow as a Christian. I have five children. I homeschool. I was busy in the church. My life was spent constantly going and doing for others. I told the doctor I didn’t have time for cancer! He just looked at me.
Well, treatment is one of those things you have to make time for. And during those long hours sitting at the chemo room, I took my iPod shuffle, preloaded with praise and worship music. I spent my time praying and studying God’s word. And as a result, I developed a habit of spending time with the Lord. My own personal time with the One who loves me more than anyone else.
As for the times spent in recovery from chemo? Well, I had no time. My recovery from chemo time was spent catching up on homeschooling, church stuff, family stuff—all those things that didn’t get done when I was at the chemo room. The doctor commented that I breezed through chemo surprisingly well. That I was on the strongest, harshest chemo available, and I had virtually no side-effects (other than losing my hair.) I told him it was all God.
That was three years ago. Today I still make time for detailed study in the word. If I get busy and can’t spend time with God, I miss it and my day is incomplete. So, I thank God for breast cancer. For getting me back on the time I needed to spend with God.
What is something you’re thankful for?
Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools three of her children. Her two oldest children are homeschool graduates and are in college. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.
Her publishing credits include Hot Chocolate and Shadows of the Past from Treble Heart Books; a devotional in a compilation from Zondervan; and the first book “Patchwork Dreams” in her Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House released in April 2011, the second book, “A Harvest of Hearts” in September 2011, and Promised to Another in April 2012. Laura has her business degree from Ozarka and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Laura is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites.