Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Time Bomb

I have death in me. It runs through my veins, vicious in my blood, mocking me. A time bomb. Tick. Tick. Tick. I guess we all do, in our way. The difference is that I know. I know what it is that will kill me. My body is committing suicide. BRCA2 is some scary shit. It wakes me up in the middle of the night. Lately, every pain, every discomfort, every weird feeling leads to one single, solitary thought: Cancer. Particularly, ovarian cancer. I have a 25% lifetime risk of getting it. So, yeah, I'm fucking scared.

This afternoon I will take my yearly journey to the hospital for a trans-vaginal ultrasound. I will lay on a gynecological table and have a technician stick a dildo looking thing in my vagina. My husband, horny, kinky man that he is, says, "Does it feel good?"

The short answer? No.

The long answer? Fucking No.

I mean I guess it could technically. It's a dildo, after all. But there's something about the clinical atmosphere, coupled with, I don't know, the search for CANCER that makes it decidedly the least sexy experience a person could ever have.

I was talking with my doctor about ovarian cancer the other day. I said, "Well, what are the symptoms?" You know what she said? Do you really want to know? "Anything could be a symptom of ovarian cancer. Anything." And then she proceeded to tell me the bleakest, most disheartening information. "It's really, really hard to even find ovarian cancer. By the time it shows up on tests, it's usually quite advanced." So basically I'm fucked. In the bad way.

I need to get my egg makers out. It's like suddenly I'm completely grossed out by them. I feel dirty. My own body just violates me over and over and over again. I've always hated it. I knew before I knew that it was the enemy. It was a precognition, if you can believe in that sort of thing.

Right now I feel trapped. I'm a caged animal. Here is my dilemma. If by the grace of God, or chance, or whatever, I don't have ovarian cancer right now, should I just go ahead and get these fucking ovaries out? Or should I keep them and have one more baby? Is it worth the risk of waiting? I don't even know that I'm particularly ready to have another baby right now. But I'm scared that if I make a hasty decision out of fear and horrible anxiety that I'll regret not having just one more.

I'm on the edge of tears right now. What's sad is that this fear is killing me, too. It's sapping my creative energies, destroying my will to feel and experience. I feel like I'm dead already.


  1. Betrayal by our own bodies is the worst kind.

    I wish I had something to offer you. Some kind of funny to make you smile.

  2. You know, there are people out there who are dealing with things like cancer, and there are people like me who have to deal with things like being unattractive, and all I can think is, "Shut up, Ross."

  3. Betsey - thanks. Your comment is an offering in and of itself and I appreciate it.

    Rassles - It's all relative. When I had my eating disorder, sometimes I thought, "Boo Hoo, Gwen, get a real problem." But it was a real problem, just different than what other people were facing. For what it's worth, your little profile pic is adorable. And your inner beauty shines through your writing. But I know that one has to feel it to believe it. Hearing it from others just isn't enough. So, don't shut up. Don't ever, ever shut up.

  4. Having to make a decision like that is huge. And it's an awful decision for anyone to have to make. I really wish there was some easy way for you to make that choice. Cancer fucking sucks.

  5. Ovarian cancer is too hard to find and too hard to treat. And your odds are too long to fuck with. Take 'em out. And you'll never have to walk down the tampax aisle at the grocery store again.

  6. I can't tell you what to do, but I'm here supporting you no matter what.

  7. Fuck. I don't envy your position one little bit. I'm freaked by the thought of ovarian cancer, because I know two people who've had it recently - and I had enough fertility treatments to make me scared, nervous, horrified.


  8. Gina - yep. Cancer sucks. My sister and I always wanted to buy those T-shirts but never got around to it. Thanks for making me smile and taking the time to comment.

    Here in Franklin - Powerful words. I have a lot of respect for your opinion and I'm leaning that way after reading what you wrote. You are right. It's like if someone told me I had a 25% chance of getting in a bad car accident today, I definitely would not drive! It's a loss, though, so it's hard. I feel like I just keep losing pieces of me, really important pieces. But I wouldn't mind losing the period, that's for damn sure! Thank you for being so honest and taking the time to comment.

    Musing - I really appreciate you being there for me so much. I feel like I have a second family in the blog world! It's a great feeling.

    Magpie - Yep. Fuckity Fuck Fuck. Ovarian cancer is freaky scary because it's so god damn sneaky. I feel like I've been hearing about people getting it more and more lately, and younger and younger. Why that's happening now, I don't know. I'm sorry to hear about those two women you know getting the disease. I hope with your history of fertility treatments that you will advocate for yourself - demand regular screenings! It's hard to catch but I guess they must catch it early sometimes, right?

  9. Is there any alternative to either living in blind fear or zapping your ovaries? Would you consider participating in some kind of early detection study? Doing something like that may help give a little peace of mind while you sleep on the decision about your ovaries. (Here's a link to a BRCA2 study I found at Yale I have no idea if it's good, open, convenient or what ... but I'm the eternal problem solver which means I'm always looking for a way to make things work.

    Anyway, I can't imagine what you're going through. It sounds torturous. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you'll find a way to be happy and to like yourself Girl, I so wish you liked yourself more. Even though I've never met you, I think you're incredible. ... babspeapod

  10. Lisa - Thank you for your kind words. It is baffling to me that anyone should think me worthwhile or incredible. I've just never had that kind of self-esteem; Self-loathing is more like it. It still is nice to hear that my writing matters to others, that there is some value in it and therefore in me.

    I checked out the Yale trial you linked. It looks great and I would certainly be eligible but unfortunately there are no study locations closeby. I do get regular ovarian cancer screenings (once per year) but they are not always effective at detecting cancer early. I'm hoping that my recent onslaught of symptoms have a more benign culprit. I guess we'll see.

  11. I like to state the obvious sometimes. Like telling people who are planning to buy a new car that they should test drive them before settling on anything...

    In your case, I would suggest that you get a bunch of eggs harvested before you do anything rash, in case you decide to have more kids when (if?) you're ready to face that.

    For example -- My sister's best friend had (some form of) cancer (uteran? ovarian?) in her twenties, and had to have her insides excised, but years later, my sister was able to carry a child for her.

    It is better to have it and not need it, than to need and not have. IMHO.

  12. I have the same issue with pancreatic cancer. I've already had part of my pancreas removed and one day will probably have to have it all removed--which then causes a whole other series of health issues.

  13. Pos - What an amazing gift your sister gave her friend. Thanks for the suggestion on the eggs. The only thing that might prevent me from storing my eggs is the cost. I'm pretty sure something like that would be expensive and I'm not so sure I could afford it. You're right, though. It is better to have it and not need it. Thanks for the comment, or as you like to call it, a "splash". It helps to know I'm being heard. P.S. If you are the king of stating the obvious, then I'm the queen.

  14. Sandi - So sorry about your health issues. Sometimes I think, "Why me?" But when I read comments like yours and others I realize that I'm not the only one who got dealt a shitty hand in life. I really and truly hope that the day never comes when you have to give up your pancreas. You've already been through so much.

  15. Ovarian cancer runs in my family too. My mom and all my aunts have had everything out and while no one wants to voluntarily lose parts, if your risk is that high it sounds like you will probably do it eventually.

    Have you checked with the dr/specialist about avg. age of onset etc.? Clearly, you need to do what feels right for you and your family but if it was me, I'd get pregnant withing a year or two(you're never really ready anyhow) and get the works taken out after c-section.

    It would be hard to be depressed about losing the girl bits with a brand new shiny baby no?

  16. I'll bet that if you get under the covers and watch Six Feet Under and listen to the rain on the window, the answer will come to you. You strike me as somebody who has a pretty good grip on reality and her own tolerance for what comes down the pike. I'll bet the "right thing to do" is already decided in you and maybe just hasn't made its way into the light yet.

    But if that doesn't work, you could always just use a magic 8 ball. I like those.

  17. I think you should get them out NOW, and thank the universe that you have such a beautiful, beautiful girl already.

    You should do whatever it takes, Gwen, to be as sure as possible that you get to be there for her for most of her life until you die as an old, old woman.