Mary Maikhail


 

My diagnosis changed everything.  Cancer doesn’t discriminate against age, race, or culture.

On Friday February 16, 2018, I was diagnosed with a high grade serous Ovarian Cancer, stage III C.  Prior to my diagnosis,  I had symptoms for about two years that things were not quite right, chief of which was an  irregular and heavy menstrual cycle that I kept brushing aside as “nothing.” The dialogue I kept repeating to myself was that I didn’t have time to go to the doctor for such a silly reason.  I had a history of irregular periods in the past and life is so incredibly busy — I mean, at 39 — I was young, healthy, active lifestyle — what could possibly be wrong? When I finally did make an appointment with my gynecologist, I had an ultrasound done where they discovered a mass, but I was reassured not to worry; that it could be anything — cyst, fibroids, etc. My doctor suggested that if I was done having children, a partial hysterectomy may be a good idea and during the procedure they would biopsy the mass, not because it looked suspect, but because that was protocol.

I took the doctor’s suggestion into consideration, but he didn’t seem worried, and therefore, I wasn’t worried and truthfully I felt no urgency to have a hysterectomy.  Because my bleeding was becoming worse and I became anemic, every loved one around me was insisting and demanding that I have the surgery. Of course, in all my stubborn glory, I still refused until one day I was quite literally brought to my knees in tears from agonizing pain. In that moment, I knew it was no longer my choice and that a higher hand was forcing me to take action.

I made my appointment to have a partial hysterectomy and the entire procedure was to take no more than a few hours, start to finish.

Over eight hours later, I woke up in a recovery room where I was informed that the surgeon was forced to do a full radical hysterectomy and the medical team called in a gynecological oncologist to remove a mass along with lymph nodes because the biopsy showed cancer. Not only was the mass cancerous, but the cancer cells had spread to other parts of my reproductive system. The words that will forever be engraved in me, were those of the oncologist who removed my cancer: she explained how lucky I was and that if I had waited any longer to remove the mass, I likely “wouldn’t have made it and that this story would have a very different ending.”

It was a severe and shocking wake up call. How could I have been so careless and irresponsible?  Cancer doesn’t discriminate against age, race, culture … Of course in hindsight I realized how serious my symptoms actually were and it is a miracle that I was given this second chance. Nothing in this world is more important than health or can compensate for poor health and I can’t emphasize enough, how important it is to listen to the tell tale signs of your body {in any situation}, even if you think it’s nothing: make the appointment, see your doctor and verify that it is truly nothing.

I am in my third year of remission. I am completely healthy and I am grateful, beyond measure, for the extra time I’ve been gifted to be with my family, to watch my two young girls grow and to savor every wonderful and incredible moment that this life has to offer.

God put people on my path everywhere I went on this journey, to show me that He had His hands and eyes on me. Because I was visibly ill, random people would approach me ALL the time — grocery stores, malls, restaurants, the nurses and doctors themselves —  and they would ask to pray with me and over me.  It was a consistent reminder that God’s grace was everywhere and that He was present in all the details of this journey; because of that gentle reminder, I knew I would be just fine and it gave me strength to bare the burden.

– Mary Maikhail