"The problem with taking out your ovaries at only 33 is that you won't be able to have any more children."
I'm astonished at my gynecologist's vast medical knowledge. I mean, seriously. How many years of medical school does one need to understand that a woman kind of needs her ovaries to make a baby? I'm in good hands, here, I can feel it. The room smells like rubbing alcohol and old lady's perfume. I'm sitting on the exam table, contemplating the stirrups with their cute, knit mittens, trying to form the right words with my mouth.
"See, I do want to have another baby. But at this point, my fear of cancer is far outweighing my desire to have additional children."
"Really?" My doctor is so gobsmacked by this revelation that she falls back in her little rolly chair as if I have hit her. It is shocking, just shocking, that a woman my age wouldn't be willing to risk getting a sneaky, often fatal disease in order to maintain her progenitive powers. My willingness to relinquish these powers is completely baffling to this doctor.
"Really?" She says again, not able or not willing to believe that which has just sputtered forth out of my mouth. That sacrilege: I'm giving back my progenitive powers to God. I don't fucking want them anymore, not with this pricetag.
"I'm going to play Devil's Advocate here," She says, trying to wipe the fear and frustration off her face. "If I were to remove your ovaries at your age, you will be in full blown menopause. You will suffer terrible hotflashes and your risk of osteoporosis will increase without the estrogen to absorb the calcium. You will be very uncomfortable and will definitely need hormone replacement therapy."
Here's the dialogue in my head: Hot flashes? Better than cancer. Also? Better than death. Osteoporosis? Better than cancer. Also, better than death. Discomfort? Better than the pain of cancer. Better than the discomfort of dying. Hormone replacement therapy? Better than chemotherapy. Also, still better than cancer and death.
"I just don't want you to regret having the oopherectomy down the line. It's irreversible."
She's right but the logic center of my brain is transmitting the message, "I'd rather live to regret than not live at all."
This doctor is trying to convince me that my ability to have a baby is more valuable than my ability to breathe and, like, be alive. What is this era we are living in? Did I step on a time warp on my way to the OB/GYN today? Because sitting in the tiny office, I feel like I'm living in 1865 and my entire worth as a woman is placed on parity and fertility. Is the human race an endangered species? Do I have some sort of obligation to help propagate our species? Babies are born all the time. I think the human race will survive. The question is, "Will I survive?"
"So the cyst on your ovary could be benign or it could be malignant. We can't tell. There is a line down the middle of it, which isn't great. Ultimately, the cyst could be cancer or it might not be cancer." The doctor looks me in the eye and with the straightest face as she delivers this sage news.
"OK. So you don't know if I have cancer or not?" I'm trying to be calm. Because I've heard that sane people are calm when they get ambiguous news.
"No. The tests we have for ovarian cancer are limited. The next step is a CA-125 blood test."
The CA-125 blood test is like the psychic who takes your money, looks into her crystal ball then gives you a prediction. Sometimes that prediction is that you have a dread disease. Sometimes the bitch is right and sometimes the bitch is wrong. Notice how nothing my doctor says really tells me anything at all. It's like the weatherman on the morning news who says, "There's a 50% chance of rain today." No shit, Sherlock. I could have told you that.
So I might have cancer. I might not. The CA-125 might be right, it might not. The line in my cyst might be bad. It might not. All the painful symptoms I'm experiencing might be related to my cyst or they might not.
Wednesday is the day I will hold my breath for. If my CA-125 markers are elevated, then my doctor said she will need to take out my ovaries right away. I don't even want to think about that day. It will be terribly painful to relinquish my dreams of another baby. To let go of that tiny hand and watch him or her fade into oblivion, never to be born. What the doctor doesn't seem to understand is that it's not that I want to lose my ovaries. It's that I have to. I can't go on with this fear. It's too heavy to carry. But I will mourn those never babies, and I will mourn the loss of that which makes me a woman. Nothing is ever easy. We do what we have to do - to survive.
7 hours ago