“Call 911! This pain is not going away!” I could hardly get those words out. Lying there on the bathroom floor, curled-up, holding my stomach from the excruciating pain like someone wouldn’t stop punching me. It just kept getting stronger and stronger. I was close to passing out. I felt like I was suffocating so I slowly removed all my clothes and laid there in a pool of my own sweat waiting for the paramedics.
Unexpected Life Challenge
“Madame Antonia, I am here to take some blood tests.” The nurse woke me up very early that morning and I could no longer fall asleep.
“What the hell happened to me? What is wrong with me? What is going to happen next?” This was my third day in the hospital since I was admitted after showing up at the emergency room. I was given three doses of morphine and was now waiting for the results from all the tests they took. The wait was just as painful as the pain I felt in my abdomen. That particular morning was worst. Looking down at myself, I noticed that I had started to swell up. I started to panic, “why am I swollen?” The nurse replied, “I am just here to take your blood sample, I will have the doctor come see you.” I lay there, crying.
This was not supposed to happen. In the last couple of months, I had begun to feel alive again! My house was officially sold, almost all my belongings were sold and my letter of resignation was printed and signed. I was going to go into work that following Monday to hand it in and get ready to leave for South America.
Faced With Making an Important Decision
“You have two cysts, one in each ovary. It would be best to have a surgery to avoid this from happening again. But, it’s your choice if you want it or not” said the doctor.
At that moment, I was in no state to make that kind of a decision. I was extremely groggy from the morphine and I still didn’t fully understand what happened or what caused me to look like the Bonhomme Carnaval. When I questioned the doctor about it, she caressed my arm saying, “you look fine, beauty is within, it’s not about how big you are.”
“But I’m swollen, I feel like I put on 30 pounds!”
“It’s normal. I will begin the process of scheduling a date for your surgery not to cause further delay. We will call you to confirm the date. It will give you time to think about it.”
Following My Instincts and Gathering All the Facts
I was dismissed that weekend after being there for six days. Getting home and looking around at a half empty house, seeing the SOLD sign outside, suddenly everything just seemed to be falling apart. I tried to pull myself together because I had an important decision to make. I was replaying the conversation with the doctor over and over in my mind. “Beauty is within, it’s your choice if you want it or not.” Although, when I first heard those words, they didn’t comfort me at all, this time I felt a strength come over me. My decision to pursue my South American adventure came from courage and confidence that I found within myself, my “beauty within”. I had no idea what would be in store for me, yet I was excited about the journey ahead. I closed my eyes and listened to myself for a while. I opened them and looked at my body. I was still swollen and still didn’t know why. “It’s your choice.” Something just didn’t feel right about the whole idea of a surgery even though the doctor told me otherwise. I still had questions. I wasn’t sure exactly what they were, but I wanted to know more. I could chose to trust the hospital doctor and just go ahead with it or I could listen to my inner voice.
Monday morning I called my gynecologist’s office. “Please, is there any way I can see him, I was told I need a surgery but I want to see him before I make this decision.”
He managed to move things around to see me that same day. After a brief examination he sent me for a CA-125 blood test, an important marker in detecting ovarian cancer that the hospital had forgotten to take.
Looking at the doctor nervously, he started his explanations. “The results show abnormal high levels. There could be many different factors that could cause such levels, we will take all precautions. I will write up a rush referral for a full examination at the ovarian cancer clinic for next week.”
CANCER, I may have an ovarian cancer. I sat there staring at him, his words slowly fading, I felt myself escaping from my body. His lips were still moving, but, I could no longer hear what he was saying. My mind had wondered off somewhere far away and I entered a peaceful state of mind.
How do you prepare for cancer? It’s not something that I ever thought about, nor something that I had been taught how to deal with. You’re probably expecting me to tell you that I was terrified and devastated? I won’t tell you this because it’s not what happened. I felt more alive than ever. I know it’s hard to believe. I couldn’t understand it either. I had people tell me that maybe I was in shock. The only thing I can tell you is this: during that week, being around the people I love and my surroundings, I saw a beauty I never experienced before. I felt a freedom enveloping me. I was free to be ME. I dreamed of the journey ahead of me. I didn’t know what the next chapter would be but, I was free to choose my reaction.
“The doctor is ready to see you now.” After having a series of blood tests and an ultrasound, I was finally about to get the results. Within the next few minutes, I would be given the road map to my life journey.
“All women develop cysts during ovulation and they usually pass on their own. However, sometimes a cyst can burst causing liquid to accumulate and causing the CA-125 blood level to rise. When this happens, it’s very painful. This is what happened to you. All you need is an anti-inflammatory drug that will help reduce the pain.”
By now, my swelling had disappeared. I told the doctor about it, hoping she could tell me what caused it. “Sounds like you had an allergy. What tests did they do? What were the results?” I couldn’t help but laugh before telling her. “Well you see, they told me that beauty comes from within.” She stopped taking notes, looked at me and said, “You did a very good thing to seek a second opinion with your doctor.”
The CA-125 blood test now showed that my levels had dramatically returned to normal. Furthermore, an ultrasound confirmed that the left cyst had passed and the right one was so small no intervention was necessary. One thing was certain: I did not need the surgery.
Making a Decision
That day when I got back home, relieved and just happy to be in the moment, I had a message on my answering machine.
“This message is for Antonia Lo Giudice, the hospital calling to inform you that the date of your surgery has been scheduled. Please, call at this number to confirm and begin the process.”
I never returned the call.
One year later, I’m happy to say that I’ve recovered fully and I have not had another episode. Furthermore, I have been pursuing my dream of traveling across South America for the past ten months.
When you’re faced with a situation that you never thought possible, open your heart. There lies a strength deep within that will emerge and take you forward. You will feel free to be who you are, say what you really want and do what you really care for because you no longer put an importance on the same things. What if we lived our life this way now?
Have you experienced a similar situation where you felt something was not right, even if someone else told you otherwise? Do you have a lesson learned that we can all benefit from? Please, share your story in the comments below, it can help us all!