Julia's Story: Joyful in Hope
Being diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer at the age of 26 was not the fertility clinic outcome I was hoping for. My husband and I had been trying for a year and a half when we received this shocking news. The majority of women with this type of cancer are 65 year olds, making my case the youngest Juravinski Hospital had seen. In June 2015 I began three rounds of chemotherapy. A few weeks in, my husband shaved my thick long brown hair. Losing my hair was one of the most difficult steps, because my reflection was now a constant reminder I had cancer.
Unfortunately the chemo was ineffective in shrinking or stopping the cancer from growing. This meant that moving forward, my treatment plan would rely solely on successful operations. On September 9, 2015 I went in for a major abdomen surgery at Princess Margaret Hospital. While the fantastic surgical team was successful in removing all visible cancer, my extensive recovery journey involved adjusting to a very limited digestive system and learning to walk again due to femoral nerve damage. It's fair to say I was quite discouraged at this time. The reality of my situation and the daunting statistics of this type of cancer were daunting.
With the help of dietitians and doctors, I was finally able to stop losing weight (having lost thirty since surgery) and start gaining again! This was a huge encouragement. My nerve-damaged leg began showing huge improvements after the two month mark. I'm now walking without a walker or cane. A recent CT scan of my abdomen and pelvis shows there is no evidence of cancer since the aggressive surgery. This news brought us unexplainable relief and gratitude. The next step is a major chest surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes and tumours around my lungs. This will take place in January 2016 at the Toronto General Hospital.
Although this has been the most difficult year of my life, I am thankful. I'm thankful for my incredible husband, loving family and supportive friends. I'm thankful for the health care access and professionals we have in Canada. Ultimately, I'm thankful for the HOPE I have. This is a term I've wrestled with over the past year, but I've come to find that true hope has to be rooted in something bigger than our circumstances. My faith in Jesus throughout this difficult journey has taught me what it means to "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." – Romans 12:12
For updates and personal reflections as I continue to battle epithelial ovarian cancer, I'd be honoured if you checked out my blog!
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