South Charlotte

Finding the positives in a bad situation

In early May, I was diagnosed with Stage II ovarian cancer and had a hysterectomy at the end of the month.

I decided to cut my hair after my first round of chemotherapy so that I could donate it to Locks for Love, since my doctors told me I'd start losing it in patches shortly thereafter.

The haircut was one small way I could take back control from this disease - the big scary "C" that has always loomed in my mind as the worst thing you ever want to hear your doctor tell you - and have something good come out of one of the many indignities my diagnosis has inflicted upon me.

I was out of town at a conference when I got the call from my OB/GYN (the one that starts with, "There's no good way to tell you this...") and so I had several days to process my diagnosis away from my family.

By the time I returned to Charlotte on Mother's Day, I had realized that once I accept that I have been dealt this blow, I am actually quite lucky.

It is not always easy to see the silver lining or find the good in a particular moment or day, but there have been a plethora of positives in this huge negative.

I am lucky my cancer was spotted when it was, through the removal of a twisted ovary that appears to have been a fortuitous coincidence. Ovarian cancer is a particularly insidious cancer because it is often very advanced by the time symptoms appear; mine is Stage II B.

I am fortunate that my husband's job allows him to be by my side whenever needed and affords us the kind of health insurance that makes my excellent medical care affordable.

The Blumenthal Cancer Center, where I am being treated, combines state of the art technology and treatment with Southern charm and compassion, and I can't imagine receiving better care anywhere else.

But most of all I'm lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who have overwhelmed me with their love and support.

My husband has made the wedding vow about being there in sickness and in health (I can't say I really gave that any serious thought on my wedding day 20 years ago), something that confirms I married the right guy.

Neighbors and friends have shown themselves to be generous and compassionate, from making meals for our family to buying me fun hats to wear atop my bald head to dropping off books or flowers or any number of distractions for my long days of chemo.

This cancer, such a scary and bad thing, has engendered many good things in my life. Don't get me wrong. I would much rather not travel this road. The surgery was brutal and the chemo even more so.

Some things - the unrelenting nausea that lingers for days following my chemo, my diminished energy and ability to do the things I want to do - are just plain bad and there is no spinning them into a positive.

But many aspects of my diagnosis do have silver linings. It is just a question of finding them.

I will profile some of the people I'm encountering on this journey in subsequent columns, beginning with the two nurses who serve as my chemo navigator and coordinator.