When Cynthia was diagnosed with cancer, she had to put her love for acting on hold to make room for the new stage in her life: Ovarian Cancer Stage 3C.
I discovered my love for community theatre in my twenties when I joined my Allegro Productions Family at the Parsippany Playhouse in Parsippany, NJ. Singing, acting, and dancing in various musicals became a passion of mine. Being introduced to performing was a source of fun, a place to transform and be creative. I loved the theatre and I was at home on the stage!
Fast forward to July 2012, where I was introduced to an entirely new and unfamiliar stage; One I had never stepped on or auditioned for before. The stage I am talking about is Stage 3C. This stage is not located in a Universal Studios lot. This stage was brewing inside of me at a rapid rate and when I found out I knew my life was about to change!
Enter scene: Ovarian Cancer Stage 3C.
I hadn't been feeling well for some time but dismissed any hinting symptoms as stress. Looking back I could see that I had difficulty eating, feeling full, fatigued, dehydrated...I had ascites to the point where I appeared to be at a full term pregnancy. I went to my primary doctor, who thought I had gastritis.
Upon my second return to my primary doctor he decided to run some blood tests. My bloodwork came back 1,488 for my CA125 and it was determined that I needed a CAT scan to detect any tumors. My doctor referred me to a wonderful surgeon. She put me at ease and I felt confident to be in her care. I was in survival mode! I was guided through each hospital department and received tests prior to surgery with a quiet reserve. My primary goal was to schedule the surgery immediately – a complete emergency hysterectomy at age 44 without any reservation, on the week of my diagnosis.
I recall the night before surgery well. My brain had made the connection to what I was feeling internally- It felt like there was something evil inside. It was gnawing at me ferociously. I recall feeling this way at a friend's barbeque. I went inside to use cold washcloths for relief as burning pains were shooting up my sides. I had large tumors on both ovaries and was filled with cancerous fluid...about eleven liters worth. I was unsure of the outcome or if I would ever lay eyes on my husband or home again. I wanted the surgery- I wanted this out! Take it all out!
This new stage in my life meant scripts were replaced with prescriptions, rehearsals with endless appointments, stage directions with doctor’s orders, and costumes with hospital gowns. My surgery left me with a vertical scar and 75 staples which would later be removed. There was an eight week recovery process after surgery. I remember the ride home and how I could feel every bump in the road. The living room sofa soon became my new nest during recovery. I also had to learn how to give myself Lovenox injections at home every day for about 30 days to prevent blood clots. I joked with myself, being a Taurean sun sign, that they were "Love an Ox" injections. Looking back I remember loving the theatre so much and being on stage. Fast forward and I'm embracing a second chance at loving life and a numbered stage to go along with it.
After surgery my CA125 went from 1,488 to 70. I had a seedling deposit itself in my pelvis and grew from three to six inches. I referred to this mass in the pelvis as my "lemon".
After Taxol and Carbo Platinum Chemotherapy treatment my lemon no longer exists. I have had three clean CATscans and my CA125 is now at 30. I continue Avastin bi-weekly as maintenance treatment.
I have a defiant hope to beat this and a renewed exuberance! We are all on our own stage, and it's up to us how to act!
How did you adjust to the new stage of life that cancer brought you?