Cancer Reflections 1: Early Symptoms (October 2010)

It’s been almost two years since I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 27.  For a while now, I’ve been wanting to spread awareness about the disease.  I’ve been open to any and all questions since my illness, even though sometimes people are afraid to ask.  Hopefully, someone who is lost and scared can gain some insight into the disease from my posts.  I will not sugar coat anything and some of my descriptions may be graphic in nature, but hiding the truth of the terrible disease helps no one.  

For two years I was having lower abdominal pain if any pressure was applied to the area.  I told my gynecologist about this and it was disregarded as not being serious.  It was bearable.  It didn’t hurt all the time.  So I didn’t press the matter.  Mistake number one on my part.

The next moment that stood out to me was on my birthday in October 2010.  Everything is so clear looking back.  The signs and symptoms blatantly screaming from the past.  My boyfriend and I had gone out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  I had ordered a meal that I’d eaten before.  The smell made me extremely nauseous.  After a few labored bites, I had to push the plate away.  I thought little else about it, thinking it was just bad food.  Then, we went to my parents for birthday cake and I had to practically force it down.  My stomach was upset and the nausea returned.  Still, I just blamed the earlier meal which I’d only taken a few bites of.

Over the weekend, I ate some sour candy which caused irritation to my mouth.  That had never happened before.  A couple of days later, I lifted my arm over my head and was inflicted with a sharp pain in my chest.  Heartburn followed.  I found it odd because I rarely got heartburn, but shrugged it off and took some antacids.  Only the heartburn didn’t go away and it was severe to the point of not being able to eat.  For the next week I struggled with it…toughed it out.  The only thing I ate was bananas and I drank milk.  Even these low acid foods aggravated the already constant pain.  All types of scents and odors made me nauseous.  Whenever I’d mention it to someone they would respond, “Maybe you’re pregnant.”

By October 31st, Halloween, I was at my wits’ end.  It was too much for me to endure anymore and I called my mom crying.  I couldn’t wait until the next day for the doctor’s offices to open.  It was a Sunday and I was supposed to go to work that day. My mom ended up taking me to the emergency room and I was still in tears.  Despite the pain, I was very reluctant.  I had no health insurance.

After a while, they took me back.  I had not been to the emergency room since I was a child.  Never had an IV that I could recall.  So they send someone in to administer the IV to combat dehydration.  The girl doing it was a student.  I ended up being the person she practiced on.  Both my arms were poked and prodded until I looked like a junkie the next day.  Not a great way to find out your veins are hard to find.  An actual nurse finally had to come in and when she found a vein I broke out into a sweat and started dry heaving.   There was no food to throw up.

Eventually, after a long wait, the doctor came in.  He seemed to disregard how I felt as nothing major.  He pressed on my abdomen lightly and sent me home with a prescription for an OTC acid reducer.  There was no, “Hey, she never goes to the doctor, maybe it’s serious.”  No offer of a CT scan which would have revealed the cancer festering inside me.  Not even an ultrasound.  Everything I was telling him were symptoms that could point to ovarian cancer or another serious illness.  Not to mention I looked like Hell.

-Chronic heartburn


-abdominal pain

-loss of appetite

-sensitivity to smell

The OTC acid reducer helped ease the pain.  I later learned the medication is commonly given and masks many of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

I was out of enough pain that I could go back to work fairly quickly.  Unfortunately, my cancer journey was just beginning.


About Jez Strider

Author of the Vamp Life series available at
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