It was never IBS, but Ovarian Cancer
A lot of people have asked me what were the symptoms, how it was diagnosed and why it happened. I would not really want to go into those details, but doing it only for awareness purposes :P
I had slight bloating. So slight no one other than me noticed it. It didn’t even feel bothersome. That’s it. Later last year I had killing pain in my upper abdomen. Doctor gave me some pain killers, said “ho jata hai ese hi”, and the pain subsided in a week. In hindsight it could have been due to tumors.
10 different reasons
I consulted some 10 doctors and dieticians to understand why my stomach was bloated. I was given 10 different reasons (IBS being the major one), but none satisfying enough. What was helping me the most was understanding and knowing my body really really well. I knew how long my body took to heal from a disturbance, what was normal and what was not. And that kept me pushing for answers. I wanted to consult a gynecologist too. We kept booking appointment with a very popular gynecologist but she kept cancelling preoccupied with urgent duties for pregnant women. Didn't know I was competing with unborn babies :|
I was so perturbed why can’t anyone tell me what’s wrong. Unsatisfied by everyone, on 19th Feb I got admitted to a well known hospital to get some internal tests done. All came clean and I was about to leave for home when we thought let’s go for an ultrasound too. (Just imagine what happens to those who are unable to afford all these tests or believe whatever doctors tell them). My sonologist said “there is a cyst in your ovary, come one day and get it removed”. A lot of ladies have cysts, so I was not worried about it but I pushed him to take my ultrasound to a gynecologist. No response. I started pushing hospital staff a lot to get me an appointment with a gynecologist. Later I was given an assurance someone will have a “peek” at my ultrasound.
Ultrasound revealed tumors
Next day, Feb 20th, my doctor told me everything is perfectly fine, my discharge slip was signed, I was leaving for office when someone came in at the last moment and suggested I get a TVS ultrasound. I was about to leave but I don’t know why I just went for it. (And that’s why I believe in God - because of such incidences we can’t ourselves explain). This time the sonologist coincidentally happened to be a lovely acquaintance of mine. In hindsight if it were not for her I would have not been diagnosed at all. Just trough a TVS ultrasound she told me I have tumors. Malignant tumors. I said thanks, and left. Because I didn’t know what “malignant” meant.
My discharge got immediately canceled and I was bothered because I wanted to leave for office. I had promised I will be there and I never went back on my promises. A nursing staff came and sucked my blood for CA-125, while I was cribbing how I was getting late for work and how they could suck my blood without causing gaping holes in my skin (that are still there even after so many months. Poor staff huh). Meanwhile, I was also googling “benign” and “malignant” and just laughing because Google showed young girls almost never have malignant ovaries.
Evening came. My boyfriend Saurav had just finished reading “The Emperor of all Maladies.” He always had an interest in cancer research. And I was making elaborate plans on how I will do my NGO’s work better. He then went to check my CA-125 results. We learned my CA-125 was 7 times the normal level. It still didn’t bother me, until Saurav broke down crying.
”Nishtha don’t you worry we will do it together.”
“I am not worrying. CA-125 could be high for a number of reasons. Google says young girls always have benign tumors.”
Nothing to calm me
It took me a few minutes to realize I was not one of those lucky girls who go home with benign tumors. That was the moment my life changed. I was on a dimly lit corner bed in a dormitory room, in white hospital uniform, curtains covering me from all corners, Saurav crying holding my left hand, and my right hand still. I was completely still. I had cancer. There was no one and nothing to calm me, except for my shock. The maddening hustle bustle of a corporate hospital had suddenly become completely silent for me.
A lot of people have also asked me why it happened to you. Sorry, I don’t know. Neither do my doctors. Some people keep pushing me “you must have done something.” Nahi bhai I didn’t do anything to give myself cancer. It was too low on my priority list. If you want to know my lifestyle: I went to the gym regularly, ate healthily, was a non-drinker, non-smoker, didn't have any family history of cancer, and yeah also I prayed daily and was a good human.
Do you think there is enough awareness of IBS?