ovarian cancer

My Mom Should Still Be Alive

Wheel chair at the hospital corridor. Black wheel chair at the corridor of hospital.

I’m just going to come out and say it: I miss my Mom, and she should still be alive.

She started feeling sick several months before we knew what was wrong—it was a stomachache that didn’t go away. She was a little bloated. A bit tired.

She was in her 50’s, but she hadn’t gone through menopause yet, so maybe that was it – you know how the body is, all weird and shit when it goes through changes.

She was hot some days — sweating on a cool morning. Cold others, even when the sun swelled to high noon.

But it was that vague but persistent stomach ache – it didn’t go away.

Diverticulitis? Maybe.

Menopause? Possibly.

It took the doctors half a year— six goddamn months—to finally figure out what they should have tested for immediately:

Ovarian Cancer.

And how did they find it?

Her OBGYN finally got around to ordering a blood test which was confirmed by an ultrasound. Six months after she showed up at her doctors office for the first time.

Six months. For fucks sake.

Easiest thing ever—and they could have found out six months earlier, before the cancer had become the size of a grapefruit, before it had spread to the uterus and the peritoneal lining, before the disease was so entrenched in her body that the odds were slim, even with the best treatment.

Now, no one in my mom’s family has ever had ovarian cancer. That’s true.

But it turns out that Ashkenazi women are more prone to it even without the gene.

And my mom was of a certain age, and her syptoms–although vague–were pretty classic.

All in hindsight.

Well, fuck hindsight.

The bottom line is this: She should still be alive.

If they had run that blood test when she had gone to her OBGYN when her symptoms began, she probably would be alive.

But doctors are not God.

They are not.

They don’t know everything—and while we have to let them do their job, and not start printing out pages from Wikipedia and shit, the onus is also on us to know our family history, and our genetic history, and to ask for certain tests that might save our lives.

In other words, the onus is on us to advocate for ourselves and for the people in our lives that we don’t want to live without. Particularly for women, whose pain the medical establishment often ignores.

The CA-125 blood test is simple, and not invasive, and it can detect ovarian cancer even in the early stages when time iS your side, and there are more options.

It’s too late for my mom—and for all the other women who have died from this disease. But it isn’t too late for so, so so many others, so tell a friend, and then another, and let’s save some lives.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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