A bit about me
I’m Ana. I’m half Portuguese, half Dutch. I’m living in the Netherlands at the moment. And I am a social worker at a school and also a travel blogger. And I am six years clean of cancer. And I had ovarian cancer six years ago. It was a borderline tumour. So it wasn’t a good tumour, or a bad too much was in between. But they already saw there was a negro invasion of bad cells. So they said that chemotherapy wasn’t going to go for me. So we had to do a very big operation and remove the tumour along with a lot of lymph nodes. And they said that that was the maximum they could do. And hopefully that the body will do the rest.
Symptoms and diagnosis
It was very strange because it all started about a year before that I had something near my ovary. So I went to the doctor. I had to do some tests when you’re 30. But I was 25. So, it was a little bit early. They saw some agitated cells and took a sample. And they said come back for a test after six months. And half a year later, I went to have a test to check my uterus. And then they saw some bad cells coming from another way. Then they saw bad cells coming from the ovary canal. I had no symptoms at all of ovarian cancer. And out of those tests showed that I had a big tumor on my ovary. On my right ovary.
My reaction after being diagnosed with cancer
I remember being at the hospital. And there were four doctors in front of me because the doctor had to have some second or third opinions about the situation. But it was really hard to see. But the results of the blood tests came out like there’s cancer, we have to look where it is. So when they told me the word, that I have a tumour on my ovary, I didn’t hear anything. It was just blank. And I was there with my mom and I started crying. She started crying. To be honest, I just remember the faces of the doctors looking at me. And I don’t recall the rest of that appointment. I couldn’t believe it was my life. And then I told my dad and my brother and no one could actually believe it was true. It was very emotional.And my friends just really couldn’t believe it.
So first, I had to do a colposcopy to remove the ovary with a tumour. But when I was brushing my hair, I used to cry just thinking maybe in a few months I couldn’t brush my hair again for a long time. But luckily, it was a borderline tumour. And the doctor said, we have to operate on me. And first I thought we’re going to operate down to the belly button. But after many tests, it was found that some lymph nodes near my heart were already affected. So they had to operate between my legs until between my breasts. So it’s a really long, big scar. They removed 37 lymph nodes, and also a part of my intestine both small and big. That was something that didn’t come out from the tests that was something that they just saw when I was lying there. So it was a really big operation.
Sometimes I just get really bloated, or I get really bad pain, or I have to go to the bathroom really fast. These are the only side effects that I have been having these last six years. And I think that’s something that I have to live with, for the rest of my life.
I eliminated the people who would pity me a lot. People that would cost me a lot of energy to talk with. I want to be with the people who really care about me. My parents were really worried, especially my mom. And she would also want me to be there for her but I couldn’t. And that was something that clashed a little bit because I had to focus on my own recovery. So instead of pleasing others I started pleasing myself first. did what makes me happy. And I talked about the disease with my social network, my friends, and, and family. Also during the process of the two operations, I went to all the festivals, even though people were telling me to stay at home, you have to mentally prepare yourself for the big operations. I went to a party. Even after the big operation, I was maid of honour at the wedding of my best friend and had tours in Spain. And that really helped me to have my strength.
Being cancer free
It was a process because after three months you have your first checkup and versus like, every three months and every healthier. Every time I heard, there’s no cancer in you, it was a party. I would always go after having a nice lunch with the champagne. And last year, when I was five years cancer free and it was symbolic.
Changes in lifestyle
I was a serial smoker. But I quit that. Sometimes I smoke cigarettes but not like before. My diet has really changed. I’m more aware of what I eat. I try to go more organic. And I try to have a less stressful life. I also enjoy a week of calmness and just read a book or watch Netflix. I was already a busy person before I got ill. Now after a few years, I realised that I’m more at ease with everything.
Some important life lessons
Don’t postpone everything. That is something I think that’s the main lesson. My upbringing was more focused on you’re going to school you’re going to go to college. Don’t postpone anything because you don’t have a guarantee that you will have time or you will be healthy. Go do that trip, start that hobby because time is precious. And what really matters is that you’re happy and have love around you.
Message to other cancer patients and caregivers
Simply, talk about what you’re feeling. Share your deepest thoughts with someone that you trust. It will also lighten up your mood and your day and will have something to look forward to. That really helped me to get through those days. And one thing that I learned during the recovery is that the feeling of pain in your body is very short. I used to just count until 10 and then pain went away. This thought always helped me through most of the pain because I wasn’t on morphine anymore.