Cancer is Back in the News

When It was announced that John McCain has an invasive, cancerous, brain tumor, my first reaction was sadness. While I haven't always agreed with his political views, Mr. McCain is a good man who has served his country for over 60 years. What I didn't expect was the impact of the announcement on me.  

Cancer is back in the news. From the TV edutainment news, to the blogs I read, there have been endless discussion about his potential treatment choices and prognosis. Even the well wishes that have been publicly posted on twitter.

There is a pair of articles that have had a significant impact on me as a Ovarian Cancer survivor. The first is an article from Newsweek titled "John McCain Cancer is ‘Godly Justice’ for Challenging Trump, Alt-Right Claims." The second is an article from Huffington Post titled "Cancer Doesn't Choose Who Survives Based On How Hard Someone Fights." These articles, plus the continued press coverage of Mr. McCain's health, have served as a trigger for my PTSD, something I thought was long dealt with.

In the years prior to my diagnosis I lost 65 pounds and was 20 pounds from my goal weight, attending weight training classes and was running between 15 and 25 miles a week training for a marathon. I had my annual physical exams and underwent preventative diagnostic testing on an annual basis. In spite of all this, I received a cancer diagnosis. I felt betrayed by my body.  I wondered what I was being "punished" for.  I was determined to chose the most aggressive treatment available, given the high rate of recurrence associated with Ovarian Cancer.

I have endured surgery and 6 cycles of Intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Although my hair has grown back, and people tell me I look "great," I am only 15 months out from my last treatment. I have a physical and a blood draw every 3 months to catch a recurrence as early as possible. I am still dealing with some lasting effects of the chemotherapy: neuropathy in my feet, the loss of strength in my hands (I can barely open a jar or a beer) and the inability to form complete sentences from time to time. Believe me, I have done everything in my power to beat this. But if I lose my battle, it's not my fault.