Lately, I’ve been thinking about the choices cancer forces upon us. Questions I would never consider had cancer not parked on my doorstep. It’s hard to remember how to just be, how to just enjoy a day without life’s great existential questions buzzing in my ear every minute.  It’s hard enough seeing the physical reminder of my choices in the mirror and now, before I even get used to things as they are, I’m forced to confront another choice.  One, a normal woman of a certain age would never question.

Ovaries? Stay or go?

In all honesty, I’ve already made this decision armed with advice from my gynecologist and oncologist.  I knew this was coming.  I’ve been considering it for quite a while, perhaps too long, my uneasy brain thinks, but despite knowing and accepting the reasons, I’m having a hard time dealing.

Tomorrow I meet my choice head on, but today…I’m moping.  I’ll even dare to say, sad.  I’m not seeing the positives that come along with this choice, though I know they exist.  I only see what I’m losing…again.  Thanks, cancer.

I get to say goodbye now to so many things:

A young me, the way I’ve been since I was 12 years old.  

A fertile me, not that it matters in terms of new babies. That’s not happening, but still not how I’d choose to lose it.

Goodbye to periods, perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing either, but still not the way I want it to play out.

One big hello to instant menopause.  Just seeing the word makes me feel old….Instantly old.  

It’s not one thing that’s making me sad, it’s all of those things.  It’s nearly two years of having to make decisions I shouldn’t have to make.  None of us should have to choose to remove our ovaries, our breasts and then walk around everyday as if we haven’t been changed, as if life continues on as before when we know damn well it doesn’t.  Cancer doesn’t let that happen. That is not the gift it gives us, no matter how well things turn out.  It robs us of our right to let life play out naturally, to grow old naturally.

I’m not happy about tomorrow.  I don’t want to retell my story to the staff.  I don’t want to remind some nurse or anesthesiolgist yet again, left arm only even though they’ll never find a vein there.  I’m tired of the whole thing, this whole cancer thing.

I also, keep thinking I’ll be different afterward, changed somehow, no longer my usual cheery self, but a new cranky, sweaty self.  The day looms before me as a dividing line in my life… Young me changed by the flash of a knife into old me, never to be the same.  Only once before has anything created such a clear division in how I see my life.  It was the moment my mother died.  My life changed then from being a person with a mother to one without.  So clear. There was no going back no matter how much I wanted to, there was only forward.

Giving up my ovaries is like that, there’s no going back.  So, I’m sad, but I’ll go and get through it.  I’ll remember to be thankful that although it’s a crappy choice, it was still mine to make and not forced upon me by some horrendous turn of this disease.

Among my goodbyes I’ll remember to wish my elevated estrogen level and its friends, high risk of breast cancer recurrence and ovarian cancer risk, a fond farewell.  And hope for the best, because really, what other choice is there?

See you on the other side of menopause.

15 thoughts on “Choices

  1. Stacey–wow, what a day you'll have tomorrow. I wish you all the luck and a speedy recovery. I know for you the ovaries symbolize so much, letting go of dreams and plans; that's heavy stuff. But the truth is that you have your dreams and plans and those damn ovaries are getting in the way of future dreams and plans, which are so much, much more important. Welcome to early menopause–I wish you the same reaction I have had, which is very minimal. You'll get through it and realize that you made the best decision for the future of Stacey.Hugs, Lisa


  2. Choices are indeed an agonizing part of breast cancer treatment. I feel for you on so many levels. I didn't have my ovaries out, but went into menopause after a month of chemo. I also had to choose between lumpectomy and mastectomy and also to decide if I wanted a preventative mastectomy. That was so hard, since the remaining breast turned out to be perfectly healthy. I felt my femininity was shot. And now there are choices regarding partial or full radiation. Are we better off with choices? I guess so, but sometimes I wish people would decide for me. I'm hoping for the best outcome for you tomorrow and for comfort as you go through the grieving stage. Prayerfully, Jan


  3. I am in the midst of making this decision – or at least trying to get my head around it. You have expressed this so well. You are so right that we are forced by cancer to make so many decisions that we should not have to make. Something you said at the end of your post: \”Among my goodbyes I'll remember to wish my elevated estrogen level and its friends, high risk of breast cancer recurrence and ovarian cancer risk, a fond farewell.\” is making me feel more comfortable with a decision that I think I have to make . . . to remove my ovaries. I have been on this cancer roller coaster for two years now . . . I am sick of it too, so sick of it and all of the changes it has visited upon me, my family, my future. Thank you for writing this post. I will be thinking of you tomorrow and sending good vibes and prayers your way.


  4. Very well expressed Stacey. I made the same 'choice' myself. Although really I felt it was the only option left to me… and like you I found it difficult to let go. I also remember feeling denied of the chance for natural ageing, even though I knew it as the 'right' thing to do, I did grieve. I wish you well with your surgery and recovery.


  5. Stacey, I've just come across your blog. I had my ovaries removed in July 2009, and I went through all of the emotions you described above. It was harder for me than removing my breast, because my breast had cancer in it and my ovaries were perfectly fine. I hated carving myself up, and mostly I hated that I wouldn't go through menopause like other people. But I am happy to say that it isn't that bad. The surgery itself is pretty straight forward, and I can tell you now, nearly two years later, that I have absolutely no regrets. None. Wishing you well with it.


  6. Thinking of you today. Such a huge decision. It's actually been weighing on my mind when/if I should do the same thing (what 23-year-old thinks these things?!). It's just one more precaution to make sure I stay off the ovarian cancer path like my mom wasn't able to. Hopefully when you're out of surgery today you still feel like the same, wonderful woman and notice minimal differences. I know it sucks, but you're taking a step in the right direction. Ovaries or no ovaries– remember: you are FABULOUS. xoxop.s. my 'word verification' word is MAXIES, which you'll never have to buy again! Hooray! But, seriously Blogger? You are a real a-hole sometimes! haha


  7. The first rule of Italian racing … the driver in Gumball Rally said as he yanked the rearview mirror off of the windshield and tossed it out of the car … what's behind us doesn't matter.Good luck …


  8. Stacey, All I want to say is I understand exactly what you mean. I do think you are doing the right thing. I wish you well as you recover and once again move on through this stuff.


  9. I know you have a lot of responses to handle – so don't worry about replying. Just know I'm wishing you well. (And I've been sweaty and cranky for years WITH my ovaries – so we can commiserate if need be.)Lots of love…Deb


  10. I know Stacey. I had to make the same \”choice\” and it was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. One that's so permanent. Everything forced upon us at such a young age. It's just not fair. Plain and simple. But like everything, you'll get through this. Your sherpa's are with you today and every other. xxxxxx


  11. Hi everyone, thank you so much for all your kind thoughts and sharing what you may be going through or have already gone through. Without you, I'd be feeling quite alone, so I'm yet again grateful for this strange and wonderful online community. You're the best and sometimes really funny. Deb, here's to sweaty and cranky. Sami, maxies, now that is funny. Dave, Gumball Rally, really? And Anna, I love the sherpas.A post about yesterday will be up in a few days. Thanks again, everybody.


  12. Stacey, Just saw this, I have been away and offline. Hope everything went well for you and you are doing okay. I am in the process of making the same decision. I am in medical menopause with shots of Lupron and pills of Femara. But I am thinking it would be better to actually have my ovaries removed and skip the shots every 3 months. I am going to talk with my Oncologist about it in May when I have my next PET Scan and check-up. I have to say that medically induced menopause was rough at first. But 2 years later it seems not as bad. The hot flashes were the worst for me, but weight loss and exercise has done wonders for them and me and my bones.I now dress in layers so that I can easily add or subtract them. My mood swings are a bit troublesome at times, but more for my family then for me:) You will get through this and it will become the new normal, but I am sorry you had to make this choice. Look forward to your next post.Deb


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