The story I am about to tell is known by family and friends, but I thought this would be the perfect place to share, because this is why we chose adoption. The story is about my journey and life with Ovarian Cancer, but the lady in this picture, my beloved grandmother, was truly an inspiration to me and was with me every step of the way through my battle with this disease.
This post is dedicated to my grandmother because this week, May 1st, would have been her 82nd birthday and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. She was such a special lady and was a big part of our lives. She was that great Italian grandmother who loved her family, food, and of course her drinks! So this one is for you Grammy!
During my pregnancy with Nick, I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer, which led to a C-section at 34 weeks and many surgeries to follow. When Nick was about 6 months old, the decision was made to do a hysterectomy leaving my ovaries because of my age, 26. The surgery was done and I was reassured that the cancer had not spread anywhere, it was just contained in the Cervix, so no Chemo or Radiation was necessary. I did continue to have check-ups every 3 months to make sure everything was still clear. If this was not enough to deal with during the first year of my child’s life, one year later, I showed up for a routine visit and saw the look of alarm in the doctors eyes……..during my exam he felt a mass. I was sent for a series of tests and almost immediately set up for a surgery.
My family rallied and we were scared but tried to stay optimistic. The outcome was not good, the day of surgery they told us that the tumor was Ovarian Cancer, it was the size of a soft ball and had already infiltrated the other ovary. This time I was not so lucky, it was a Stage III Cancer and I was going to have to fight.
Everyone pitched in, my Mom practically raised my son during this year and when she had to be with me in the hospital or for doctor visits, my grandmother kept Nick. This was not the first time our family had dealt with Cancer. My beautiful grandmother had battled Breast Cancer and Won! At the time of my diagnosis she was cancer free for 10 years. She called me every single day to see how I was feeling and what I needed. This is what seemed like the longest year of my life. The loss of all of my hair, many treatments, many illnesses and reactions to the drugs, and many hospitalizations.
I vividly remember when I was first diagnosed and we were all somewhat hysterical, my grandmother told me that I was too young to die and that she had lived a great life and that God should take her instead of me. She said you need to be there for this beautiful little boy. I guess I did not read into it too much until about a year later. Just about 4 weeks after my last treatment, they considered me in remission. All tests were clear and I got the green light to go back to work and my normal life. The entire family was thrilled and we thought that we were through with this disease.
The man upstairs had a different plan for our family. Not even 4 weeks later, my grandmother was feeling bad and went to the doctor for some tests. Her cancer returned after 11 years in remission, but this time it was in her liver and it could not be removed. They set an aggressive chemo schedule and said after they completed the first round they would reevaluate.
She was a trooper, completed the treatment that spread over 3 months, but it did not work. She passed very quickly and we were devastated. How could this person so full of life be gone. It was very difficult for everyone, but for me this was a turning point.
I guess you could say I was in a bit of denial going through my own battle, but after watching her fight and lose, I knew I needed to live my life to the fullest.
I have now been cancer free for 7 years and continue to go for routine check-ups to make sure that it does not return. I truly believe that my life was spared, but I wish that I still had her in my life. She will never be forgotten and I wish she was here to see the joy in this family.
My grandmothers name was Rose Sarah, so when we adopted Sarah, who was truly a gift, we found it fitting to name her Sarah Rose.