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Dear Cancer, You Tried to Take My Life Away Twice

by Danette ToledoSurvivorJune 30, 2023View more posts from Danette Toledo

Dear Cancer,

On Feb 26, 2023, you surprised me when I was referred to a blood specialist. My blood count showed I was anemic and the numbers got very high. My doctors could not figure out why I was anemic or why my abdominal area felt hard around my belly.

So I had to get CT scans done to figure out why my belly was swollen and huge. About two hours later while I was at my primary doctor’s appointment for my first visit, I got a phone call from the blood specialist. They said that my CT scan showed a huge mass that needed to be taken out ASAP and that my blood count levels showed a 94% possibility of cancer. So you, cancer, forced me to see an OBGYN oncologist.

Two weeks later on March 11, 2020, I had an emergency surgery. On that day our nation got exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was fortunate enough to still get scheduled to have my two ovaries removed. I was one of the last patients to have my ovaries removed.

I was in surgery for two and a half hours. My doctor had to cut a big incision from below my rib cage to my bikini line. You left me with a permanent scar that I see every time I take a shower or change my clothing. It reminds me of what you did to my stomach in order to remove both of my ovaries since one of them was the size of a watermelon and the second one was the size of a golf ball. You refused to let my surgeon remove the last mass, as it was compressed between my bladder and my colon. That explained my frequent bathroom visits throughout the day.

About a week after my surgery, it was confirmed that it was cancer, and I got diagnosed with ovarian stage 2B cancer. My blood counts showed that my white blood cells dropped very low. I was still anemic, so I had to take blood thinners for 21 days. I had to take shots around my incision that left me bruised, which was painful because I had 203 staples there.

Then three weeks later, I started my six-cycle chemo treatments on Taxol from April 7 to July 21, 2020. I had side effects from the chemo, dehydration, and a rash. I had to take Benadryl, Pepsis, and Decadron two days before chemo and two days after with another drug to prevent nausea.

Six months later I got very sick again. I had double pneumonia and COVID, and you almost took me, Cancer. I had an emergency CT scan and blood work, but thankfully the testing showed I was still NED (no evidence of disease).

You had me on high-flow oxygen for three weeks. I almost ended up in the ICU on a ventilator. You might have tried to take my life away twice, but I survived it, because I am a fighter and I won’t stop fighting, even if you try to hit me with cancer again.

Thanks to you I now get neuropathy and am on Letrozole for hormone therapy. Now that I am two years out, I have to get a bone density test to see if I have osteoporosis. I have symptoms of osteopenia, as my bones are fragile and thin. I am experiencing hot flashes thanks to you, Cancer. You tried to convince me that my liver was slightly elevated. I had an ultrasound of my liver, and the reading showed I was fine. You now give me flare-ups, but it’s manageable.

How much longer are you going to try to ruin me? I have permanent scarring on both of my lungs because I had COVID and double pneumonia.

It took me two years to get my new life and new body to where I am right now.

I have to see an oncologist and get scans for the rest of my life. They will be constantly re-checking my CA-125. My veins are very small these days, which makes it hard to get blood drawn. I am now constantly drinking water, which is good for my body, but I don’t like that I have to get poked every six months.

You might have left me with two permanent scars on my body, but you will never take my joy away from me. I am starting to walk again at a slow pace. I will enjoy my life again.

So now each time I see my huge scar that’s on my abdomen or by both of my lungs, I will remind you, Cancer, that you tried to ruin my life. But I am a fighter. I am not a weak person. No matter how many times you will try to ruin my life, I will keep fighting til the day I die. No person should have to be put through this. You may want to take my life away, but keep trying and I will be here standing on my two feet. I will keep fighting and kicking your butt as long I can. I am a fighter and always will be.

Danette Toledo

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