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Angelina Jolie is right–Get your ovaries checked ladies! In Ireland ovarian cancer is ignored, yet it is the silent cancer, that’s been killing me softly.

Posted by Mary on Sunday 26 July 2015 in the Blog Category.

In Ireland ovarian cancer is ignored, yet it is the silent cancer, that’s been killing me softly.

Any diagnosis is a relief if it comes after multiple visits to the doctor, in which you are increasingly dismissed as the unimportant crazy woman, with symptoms no pill can fix. I was told that my bloated abdomen was due to advancing years and stress, in spite of blood tests showing elevated ESR levels and my continuous insistence that I had an ovarian problem. I was in constant pain and felt so sick to the point I told my closest friends I felt I was dying and if I wasn’t dying, it certainly was no way to live. Sounding outrageous, even to my own ears, I found myself saying in frustration, (as far back as January) to a nurse, a doctor and friends “I think I have cancer.”

There were lots of symptoms accompanied by dismissals from medics. But then, my story is only one of thousands of women in Ireland, where ovarian cancer is not highlighted to the same extent as breast cancer and cervical cancer. There is no screening for ovarian cancer, yet there is an accessible Ca125 test known as an ovarian marker. I’d never heard of it nor was it ever suggested to me despite three rounds of abnormal blood tests over a twelve week period. I’ve spoken with other women and their stories are similar; stories of not being heard. The problem has now reached such proportions that RTE (Irish national television) are currently investigating the subject for a Prime Time special.

I know from the state of my health that I’ve possibly had cancer since November 2013. I’m intuitive about my body and feel this started slowly (it’s known as silent or stealth cancer) and only gained momentum a year later. I do not blame the doctors involved. Human error exists and my symptoms were accompanied by other conditions. I will explain that in another blog.

It started niggling me last July, beginning with a hammering on my left ovary; like there was a little man inside me, hitting my ovary with a hammer, as regular and rhythmically as my heart beat. It was bothersome rather than painful and I was acutely aware of it, since it started while I was at an ashram. Each day began at 6.30 with an hour long yoga class, followed by a further hour of meditation; the first of four meditation periods throughout the day. Along with singing bajans, reading sacred scripture and listening to our Guru, these sessions included lots of mindfulness and tuning into the body.

As my mind became more tranquil, I expected my body to follow suit, with muscles unknotting as my increasingly flexible limbs would curl into pretzel-like shapes. And sure enough these wonderful things did happen, yet I started manifesting a variety of symptoms, like abdominal bloating and frequency of urination, along with the persistent pulsing sensation in my left ovary. Each night as I lay down, I inquisitively massaged the area around the ovary and into my left hip, hoping for a sign of reassurance. Instead my body whispered to me with an abiding urgency “When you go home, get your ovaries and your bones checked.”

I knew I had neglected going for regular dexa scans, and in a strange way the ovaries were tied into this, along with a decision I had made ten years earlier, when a gynaecologist suggested he could remove my ovaries as part of a hysterectomy. No, I told him, I would like to hold on to them due to the link between ovaries, oestrogen and bone density. In the past few months, I’ve come to understand how every decision we make, is a sliding doors moment; I could have gone another route and agreed to their removal, but I went through the door that led to the present moment. That decision in itself was not wrong as my ovaries served me well and regrets are pointless.

Two weeks ago I visited the oncologist in charge of chemotherapy and he told me I had responded remarkably well to treatment. I felt much gratitude for his excellent judgement in what he had prescribed. Last Tuesday my appointment was with the Oncology surgeon who will operate on me, this coming Thursday 30th July. He is an excellent surgeon and I am blessed to be in his care. His approach, however, is different to the other oncologist in that he is blunt when it comes to discussing my case and I have to say he scared the living daylights out of me.

I feel well; better than I‘ve felt for at least eighteen months and I am strong, thanks to tremendous support from family and friends, who luckily managed to avoid burning down churches with the amount of candles they lit. Holy men and women from various spiritual traditions are praying not only for me, but also for the medical team who will work hard to remove the tumour and whatever else needs to go with it. I am ready to release the organs that served me so well, along with my ego and past self. I will sacrifice anything to have more time with my three precious children.

I have lots more to tell, if, please God, energy and time allows. My journey is something I wish to share with you, in the hope I can raise awareness of ovarian cancer and help others get an earlier diagnosis. I’ve been angry and shed buckets of tears, but also enjoyed lots of laughter and love along this peculiar journey. In many ways it has been a sacred journey, filled with grace and blessings. I have known peace and tranquility, as sorrow allowed me experience more inner joy than I had known for years.

“If I had to choose between extreme sorrow and extreme happiness, I would always choose sorrow, for when you are happy you forget about spiritual things, you forget about God. But in your sorrow, He is always with you.” Queen Katherine of Aragon

All prayers and good wishes are appreciated.

Namaste, Mary

P.S. This became my song, before and after I received a diagnosis during Easter week. Love it, as it expresses how I felt having come from a robust family with a long life expectancy and no family history of cancer. For me this illness has been a great unifier, where I felt highly conscious and compassionately connected to the suffering of every other human being  –

 

 

10 responses to “Angelina Jolie is right–Get your ovaries checked ladies! In Ireland ovarian cancer is ignored, yet it is the silent cancer, that’s been killing me softly.”

  1. Selina says:

    Hi Mary,
    I had to read this twice to see was it really you, you were blogging about.
    Thanks for your amazing word and as always light filled and caring.
    There are great reasons you made this public and I know it will serve my future health.
    For Gods sake though what is going on…we need to slow down in this world…really slow down and not let the moments pass by.
    I hope to get down to see u soon if I can..perhaps after the op or whenever you can receive….

    I’d really like to do that…I loved the quote..it so resonated..
    You’ve a great heart and mind and strong body too. Sending you all my strength and love,along with blessings from the angels, goddesses, and women shamans because you are all of these. Selina, Xxxx

  2. Mary says:

    Thanks for visiting and commenting Selina. As always I appreciate your support and prayers. Yes indeed, I hope my story helps to save lives. I am the age I am; I have lived an interesting and fulfilling life (yet I hope to be given more time), so it is much more heartbreaking when young people and especially pregnant women are not diagnosed on time to save their lives.
    I hope to see you soon and catch up.
    Mary Xxx

  3. Jentan says:

    I do hope things go well for you. I have cancer and am taking salvestrols … there is a lot about them on internet. They seem to be working for me.
    Very best wishes,
    j

  4. Mary says:

    Thanks for sharing J. I hope salvestrols work for you. I had never heard of them as a treatment. I’ve googled them and a lot of stuff comes up, so I intend to research it more thoroughly. Likewise I hope everything goes well for you J. Blessings to you,
    Mary

  5. Machel Shull says:

    Mary, Thank you for sharing your personal story on cancer and urging women to get checked. You are a woman I am so lucky to know across the Atlantic Ocean; I hope we can meet someday soon, in person.

    By the way….Your book LOVE & THE GODDESS is an incredible read! I loved Kate. Great heroine.
    M

  6. Mary says:

    Thanks for stopping by to read and comment Machel. I look forward to your new book coming out; Live Love Soul and I’m sure it will be equally successful as Middle Age Beauty. You are a wonderful friend to have connected with and I value your support. Mary x

  7. Ana Alicea says:

    Ms. Coen, I just finished reading your book, Love & the Goddess… let me tell you that it was very inspiring. As a result, I want to learn more about meditation in the hopes of gaining self-awareness, forgiveness, compassion and to be open to true love. I came to your website and read your story… I pray for your full recovery and thank you for bringing this subject matter to light; telling women to look after their health, be proactive, and if necessary, to demand that medical providers listen to us when we say something is wrong, please help. Too many women are dying unnecessarily because Cancer is misdiagnosed, undetected or diagnosed too late and we must advocate for ourselves to seek the proper and immediate medical care. God bless!

  8. Mary says:

    Hi Ana Alicia,
    I am so glad you enjoyed my book and understood the deeper messages inherent in the story. How kind of you to pray for me – I truly appreciate your kindness. I’m sure you will find a mediation class to suit you; be it mindfulness, loving kindness or a blend of both. I wish you luck on your path of increased awareness.
    Blessings, Mary x

  9. Trish Nugent says:

    Hiya Mary. I’m only seeing this now. I’d no idea you had cancer last year. So happy that you are well and responded to treatment. I think your mindfulness and positivity helped you. So many people are dying from this type of cancer ( my friend included) it is scary. Stay strong and well. Trish. xxxxxx

  10. Mary says:

    Thanks Trish,
    I’ve only just spotted your message as I’ve been really busy with other transitions in my life, like moving house post divorce.
    I have lots to update on my website, including a follow – up to this blog.
    Blessings to your friend. Yes it is scary and seemingly endemic right now.
    You are right Trish, I’ve been very lucky and I’m writing a book about the methods that helped me recover, in the hope it helps others, both men and women with cancer.
    Mary Xxx

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