My Surgery Saga

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Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  This year, I have been busy working, traveling, and taking care of my family, which is great.  However, over the past 2 months, I’ve had to deal with some medical issues as well.  Now that I’m on the other side of the situation, I have LOTS to share.  This is the first of a series of posts in which I will talk about my experience.  I sincerely hope that it helps others.

THE DISCOVERY:

On March 18th, just hours after I successfully completed a commercial shoot, discomfort on the right side of my pelvic area turned into drama overnight.  I was writhing in bed in EXCRUCIATING pain.  Attributing it to something “female-related,” I took some anti-inflammatory homeopathic drops (the only thing that I could find in my house) to relieve the pain, then drifted off to sleep.  The next morning, I felt better; but my husband (who was out of town on business at the time) insisted that I see a doctor.

I went to see my OB-GYN, who takes an integrative approach to medicine at her wellness center for women.  A pelvic exam and urine test didn’t reveal anything, so she sent me to a nearby lab for an ultrasound.  The result?  OVARIAN CYSTS!  So, she sent me back to the same lab for an MRI.  The MRI revealed large, abnormal, complex masses on each ovary with solid components that were not easily identifiable.  Although the MRI Tech thought that they were dermoid cysts, the Head of Radiology was concerned that the solid components might be malignant.  Due to the need to rule out cancer, I was referred to a Gynecological Oncologist (GYN-ONC) for a second opinion.

DUE DILIGENCE:

GYN-ONC #1 –  I went to a prominent cancer center and met with a nice, young doctor for a second opinion.  His take?  He  doubted that I had “old lady ovarian cancer.”  However, since there was a concern that the masses might be malignant, he recommended going in laparoscopically, removing both of my ovaries for biopsy, including tubes and lymph nodes, and he could take out my uterus, if I wanted him to.  WHAAAT?!?!  I was shocked, scared, and very upset to hear this.  It sounded sooooo extreme to me.  Do we have to cut down the whole tree?  Can we just take a leaf???  He explained that ovaries can’t be biopsied like other parts of the body, and that this approach would help to ensure that no cancer cells would be spread, if there were any.  Needless to say, I left the appointment feeling completely overwhelmed.

The next day, when I reviewed the details of this appointment with my OB-GYN, I expressed my concern and desire to get another opinion from someone more seasoned.  She agreed, and referred me to GYN-ONC #2, who she knew and respected.  After a couple of attempts, I managed to schedule a consultation with him (details below).

OB-GYN #2 – While waiting for my appointment with GYN-ONC #2, my husband’s Integrative Specialist referred me to another holistic OB-GYN for her perspective on my situation.  Like my OB-GYN, she lamented that she could not perform the laparoscopic procedure, due to the concern about cancer, and that I needed to work with an oncologist.  Although she doubted that I had cancer, she advised me that if anything malignant was found, “everything goes.”  *GULP*  Before I left her office, and without any prompting, she also referred me to GYN-ONC #2 for a second oncology opinion.  I felt reassured that I was doing the right thing, and confident that I was getting closer to finding the right person to help me.

GYN-ONC #2 – After 2 solid referrals, plus a glowing review from a friend, I was eager to meet with this doctor.  He reviewed my case, highlighted the positive aspects of my situation, gave us statistical information to help put things into perspective, listed in detail all of the possibilities of what the masses could be, expressed doubt that I had cancer, and proposed a more conservative, “organ preserving” approach to my surgery.  He recommended removing the right ovary and tube, having them biopsied, and using that as a benchmark to determine what to do with my left ovary.  And he suggested that my husband and I provide him with a “surgical algorithm,” which would help him to honor our wishes, based on his and the Pathologist’s findings during my procedure.  In my opinion, it was a more holistically-friendly, staged, respectful approach.

NATUROPATH – My OB-GYN has a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) on her staff.  I decided to consult with this ND about my options for hormone balancing, in case I ended up having a full hysterectomy.  She recommended some natural healing remedies that would help me before, during, and after surgery.  However, she felt that a specific hormone-balancing protocol was premature at this point.  Instead, she advised that we wait to see what my surgical outcome would be, then allow at least four weeks for the drugs to get out of my system and my body to find its “new normal.”  This made sense to me, and gave me peace of mind.

HERBALIST – After meeting with the ND, I rounded-out my holistic consultations with a visit to my herbalist.  LOVE HER!  The purpose of this appointment was to purchase some herbs and supplements to help me recover from surgery.  She provided me with some custom-blended concoctions to heal my body, which I will discuss in another post.  I stored most of these items at home for use when I returned, since I was not permitted to take them in the hospital.

THE DILEMMA:

As you can imagine, this has been a challenging time for me.  I have been blessed with good health my entire life.  I had one surgery, a tonsillectomy, when I was in college.  Since changing my diet and lifestyle, 14 years ago, I have enjoyed even better health and well-being than I had previously.  All of a sudden, within a 2-month time frame, I went from a commercial shoot to a cancer scare?!?!  And did I mention that my maternal grandmother had ovarian cancer…?  On one hand, I realized that her story did not have to become my story.  However, our close relationship and the reality of her demise had me freaking out.  Furthermore, I feel uncomfortable in hospitals, I’m a total germaphobe, and the whole idea of surgery, drugs, losing my “lady bits,” being catapulted into early menopause, and the like, seemed to go against my holistic habits.  I’m just sayin’…

THE DECISION:

My husband and I decided to work with GYN-ONC #2.  His experience, surgical approach, detailed analysis of my situation, compassion, and positive focus won us over.  He was, literally, an answer to my prayers.  So, we scheduled my surgery for May 7th (due to work and family commitments), drafted our “surgical algorithm,” and prayed persistently for the best possible outcome.  Although I made peace with having the procedure, not knowing the outcome in advance was scary, to say the least.  Still, I felt confident that I had found the right person for the job, who had my best interests at heart.

THE DETERMINATION:

My right ovary was taken over by a calcified fibroma, and was the same size as my uterus.  OUCH!  The left ovary had a dermoid cyst on it, which my doctor successfully removed.  EEEW!!  When I woke up in the surgery recovery area, my husband was brought to my bedside.  Here, he proudly informed me that I got the best of all possible scenarios:  No cancer, and I got to keep my left ovary and my uterus.  WHEW!!!

I am very grateful for my outcome, as it was an answer to the specific prayers of many.  After staying in the hospital overnight, I was discharged.   My healing process is going very well, and I look forward to sharing more related posts soon!

In the meantime, have a fun, safe, and healthy holiday weekend!

XOXO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Thoughts on “My Surgery Saga

  1. Sharon on May 28, 2014 at 8:20 am said:

    How grateful am I about your outcome Les. I experienced one ruptured ovarian cyst years ago which sent me to the hospital vomiting. With your family history, you chose the right path. Since you have one remaining ovary I pray that you get to avoid all hormone supplements.

    March 18: what a day! That was the day that my world spun out of control – literally. After a paramedic ride to the hospital and a three-day stay, turns out that I had a severe case of vertigo (along w/a minor heart episode). Six weeks of recovery and I’m back at work.

    Look forward to your next commercial. The FA ad still runs daily in L.A.!

    • Lesley Cain on May 30, 2014 at 10:34 am said:

      Sharon, thank you so much for your encouragement and support! I’ve thought of you often throughout this ordeal, along with my other friends who have experienced similar issues. You all inspired me with your courage, strength, perseverance, and faith; and helped me to get through this.

      I am so glad to hear that you have recovered from your most recent episode, and are back to work. Amazingly, I continued acting until the weekend before my surgery. As of this week, I am back in front of the camera!

  2. Pingback: My Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods | WYCD

  3. S'rae on June 21, 2014 at 10:03 am said:

    Thanks for sharing this journey and the decisions you made along the way! My breast cancer was caused by hormones unfortunately. Was on the Pill many years for fibroids. Now it is advised that I have a hysterectomy, which, I agree, seems very extreme. But apparently I am at high risk for getting uterine or ovarian cancer now- even tho it has never run in my family.

    • Lesley Cain on July 1, 2014 at 5:15 pm said:

      Thank you, S’rae, for sharing your experience and the decisions that you are facing! I still do not know exactly what caused my cysts; but I am most grateful for my surgical outcome. I prepared myself for the possibility of a full hysterectomy by doing research, meeting with a variety of practitioners (my “Dream Team”), and talking with other women who have been through the procedure. I’ll pray for your health, and for the most favorable outcome. Take care.

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