Symptoms & Diagnosis
My name is Anita Choudhary. I am an Ovarian Cancer Survivor. I am also a member of Anuradha Saxena’s ‘Sangini Group’. It all happened in the year 2013. Before my diagnosis, I had constant abdominal bloating, hip pain, fatigue and a swollen abdomen. I knew something was wrong; it just didn’t feel like the menopause was the cause of all my symptoms. Although the doctor asked me for the blood tests to assess my risk of ovarian cancer, he told me not to worry about the result because it was only slightly raised.
The saving grace was that I saw a different doctor each time so no one got to know my background or my family history. In hindsight this may have been better for me as it meant that I didn’t get pushed into having unnecessary treatment or surgery prematurely.
I was going to go back and forth with the doctor, who was convinced that my menopausal symptoms were telling me something. I just didn’t feel right, but I couldn’t convince them further testing was necessary. Finally, I decided to take matters into my own hands by starting with a home urine test kit. After getting a positive result from that and some blood tests, a scan was done, which revealed that I had attracted ovarian cancer.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer include: bloating, pelvic, or abdominal pain and discomfort, difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, irregular bowel movements or bleeding from your rectum (back passage), changes in the way you urinate – in both amount and appearance – as well as experiencing drowsiness or dizziness. If you have these symptoms along with a family history of ovarian, breast, or colon cancer, you should seek advice urgently.
Side Effects & Challenges
There are different types of side effects and challenges you might face when you are being treated for Ovarian Cancer. And, it becomes super hard to know what to expect by far!
While I was going through my cancer treatment, I found that what helped me most was having a team around me. Having one person you can really relate to as well as a medical team that knows you and your situation personally can help you feel much more comfortable and relaxed when you are diagnosed with cancer.
It’s also important to have someone who reminds you of the big picture, so you realize that one path is not necessarily the way it has to be for the rest of your life – there are always options and combinations. I hope that by sharing my experiences I can help others facing this challenging time, since knowledge is power.
Support Systems & Caregivers
Cancer is not an easy fight, but it’s a good fight if you are strong and you have the right support. I would like to thank my family, my friends, and my sister who were there for me every step of the way. I am blessed and feel great knowing that my family supported me with what I was going through. In fact, I had the best caregivers and family support I would ever say. This builds up the motivation to stay strong in tough times.
Fortunately, during one of my checkups, I was referred for a biopsy after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. My family and friends helped me to make it through the tough times of treatment through prayers, visits, and gifts. I have overcome the struggles of ovarian cancer and survived it. This motivates me to help other people who are suffering from serious illnesses and stress.
Post Cancer & Future Goals
After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I had surgery to remove the cancer. After the surgery I felt like a changed person. I am now living my life as ‘cancer free person’ and for that I feel extremely grateful. There is nothing that I want more than to get back my life in the form of energy and a healthier body, without any limitations and side effects, to do so while enjoying my favorite activities – whether cooking, hiking, or gardening.
Some Lessons That I Learned
After I contracted ovarian cancer and recovered promptly, that experience has made me realize how important it is to take control of your health. During my treatment, the care I received was excellent, but there were times they just couldn’t help me with some of the more routine things that we all want when we are ill. For example, no oncologist will prescribe painkillers for you unless you have already been on them for a long time so that their effects can be assessed. And even if you are on painkillers to treat chronic pain because of chemotherapy or injuries from previous surgeries, the prescription remains locked in until the chemo has finished.
Overall, I learned some very valuable lessons about my body, health, and wellbeing during my battle with ovarian cancer. I also lost my hair; once when I went through chemotherapy and again when I had to take steroids to get rid of an infection that followed a surgery. Both times, people came up to me and relatively strangers would ask how they could help. I just decided to go with my feelings and see where they took me.
There are women who have ovarian cancer symptoms, but aren’t diagnosed until the cancer is at an advanced stage. And, it’s possible to find women who have no symptoms at all. It’s hard to know where you might fall, and that’s why this experience sharing is so important.
I hope my story about my experience can help to educate and support you as you navigate this journey, too. I wish I had known about ovarian cancer symptoms long before I did.
If it wasn’t for me heeding a gut feeling and fumbling my way through life being open to people who were sick, I am sure I would have missed out on wonderful years with my family. I have always known that it’s hereditary. I could feel it in my gut. But even if you are not one of the lucky ones whose family informs them to get checked out, there are warning signs that one should be aware of.