July 2002 was a very hot month.I hadn’t been feeling well, but I just couldn’t tell what was causing my discomfort.When I’d walk long distances, I would have to sit down because my back would start to hurt.I loaded up with Advil and over-the-counter pain meds thinking that I had a bad back.
I noticed that after I’d eat lunch at work that I’d feel sick and have cramps in my stomach. I’d have to go home.I had a hard time driving myself home.The same thing happened at night with my evening meal.Something was definitely wrong with the lower part of my body.
I had a pap smear and internal exam a month prior—June 2002.I passed with flying colors.In fact, I still have the note that the gyno sent me saying everything looked good; and she’d see me next year.Why was I having such pain?The pain did not go away—it only got worse.
I insisted that something was wrong and everyone dismissed it except for my internist, Dr. Joe Candio.He ordered an ultrasound, a CAT scan, and an MRI.Somehow, the orders got mixed up; and the MRI was done last which caused me an extra two weeks of excruciating pain and missed work.
The new gyno that Dr. Candio referred me to called me at work to tell me the MRI showed a tumor on my left ovary, and it was cancerous.I had to have surgery ASAP.At work, my coworkers and I gathered in a circle and prayed.I left work in a state of shock to get labs done.Then, in a few days, I had extensive surgery with Dr. Weldon Chafe and Dr. Richard Boulay.They saved my life.
I had some complications—excess fluid, packing, pain.Chemo therapy was rough; but when I looked at the other people coming into the John and Dorothy Morgan Cancer Center, I felt lucky.I met Rose at the Cancer Center, and she was my chemo technician—she was an angel.I met people at the Cancer Center who gave me make up, scarves, and wigs and showed me how to look good–feel good.I lost all of my hair and bought a wig. What a humbling experience that was!
People were so wonderful to me—my co-workers at PPL, my priest, my doctors, my neighbors, my family.Everyone helped me to get through my ordeal.I questioned my faith—then I renewed my faith.I made a vow to serve the Lord somehow in a ministry of Catholic faith if he would only spare my life.
To my amazement, the Lord did spare me; and I am now a Eucharistic Minister in the Catholic Church.I am on the pastoral care team at St. Luke’s Hospital and give communion to the sick.I also give communion with the priests at mass.When I retire from PPL, I will help administer Holy Communion to the cancer patients at St. Luke’s.I now feel closer to God than ever, and I do pray and stay in the state of grace each day.
Sometimes it’s hard, but I do look back occasionally and wonder how I managed to get through my ovarian cancer.At the time I was diagnosed and treated, I lost a co-worker and friend to the same cancer.Just last week, I went to a healing mass in Palmer Township at St. Jane de Chantel Church; and I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I watched the mix of cancer afflicted people.Some were already healed; some were still sick.I received communion along with all of them.Even though I have been in remission for the last seven years, I still can feel their pain; but I feel I can give them all hope and most of all administer our Lord to them through the Sacrament of Holy Communion for which I feel so privileged to do.
When I see a sunrise or see the stars at night or hear a bird sing, I realize how lucky I am to be here to enjoy my life.I never have a bad day. I remember when my hair was falling out, and I threw my hair into the brush so the birds could use it to build a nest.I remember the hot July sun in 2002 and the nausea.I remember the sixteen hours a day that I slept.I also recall the discomfort as I walked around with either a scarf or a wig on my head in 100-degree heat that summer.
Most of all I remember my spirit—my heart and my soul coming together in the fight of my life.I truly believe that the reawakening of my Catholic faith was truly a blessing from my ovarian cancer and for this I am eternally grateful.
May the Lord Bless You
DiAnne M. DeAngelis