Madam Ovary 2020: My experience with Ovarian Cancer
Updated: Aug 11, 2020
This cancerous volcano within this skin sac was once a refuge, a sanctuary, but now it was restructuring my body. Cringing at the chemical odours of Carboplatin, and Triptorelin, sick of ingesting chemo toxins. These mutant mercenaries were culling what was left of my health. This metastic hell, these baddies of the blood, this most dislikable disease of Ovarian Cancer.
I contracted the cancer in early 2016, before that I thought I was invincible. I had eleven litres of fluid pumped from my abdomen and my chest, a nine centimetre cyst had collapsed on my left ovary. This was removed along with my left ovary and appendix. A biopsy was taken and blood tests revealed cancer markers and the Ovarian Cancer. I was overly medicated for the two month stay in hospital, I was very ill and had a laparotomy, this surgical incision into my abdominal cavity and removal of the metastatic matter. The female and blunt, to say the least, oncologist advised on a preventative hysterectomy, at thirty three years of age. Having no children and being quite young, this was like a swinging axe over my head. There was no way to know if the remaining ovary was benign or malignant. My being, my body fell into a sterile trench, mutating into something insidious. Was I going to be one of those young barren women everyone always talked about with pity and consternation? I refused and was told gravely and patronisingly about the risks and implications. I was face to face with my own mortality. At one time I chose to believe I was indestructible, that my body would protect me against any virus, pathogen or infection. I was mute. This was my form, my biological space, my living being, my own entity and spirit being infringed upon. This eradication of fertility, this deadly cargo had exploded in my body and saved my life. They initially thought it ascites, hooked up in the liver ward with all the other alcoholics was not pleasant to say the least. This was loss, loss of health, loss of beauty, was I letting the rot set in, this not so platonic plague. Who invited these minute, demonic cells into me, rearranging me, feeling that any god in my head had royally screwed me over and left the building. Was this abduction of life, kidnap of the soul?
Maybe I could recycle this despair at a later date, maybe at my death date. I could not help but feel morbid, I was crystal teared. This was an artistic nightmare in my worst kind of nursery of doom. My plush, peachy membrane pierced by surgical instruments, thawing my regret, agonising over why I didn’t find out soon. My brain seemed dry cleaned of any kind of hope, I wanted to be spherically illuminated in bliss at the end of my operation. This foreign body was pummelled into a splattering of tomato pulp, this was an installation of disease. This bodily weapon of mass destruction. I wondered if this reign into my thirties would end. Was it fetishistic this pandemic for relatively healthy young bodies. I was not a superior species after all, I was faulted or a faulty specimen. Only half feminine, stripped now of a perished and unusable ovary. I was once meticulously constructed, conjured in a healthy womb, from nutrient rich ovaries. I was no longer animated, just threatening and cancerous. The Ovarmorph, Co-codamol, Codeine, any type of analgesic drugs were opiates for my half wrecked immune system. I had been evicted from my own womanhood, my own shelter, my own asylum of peace. I was full of tubes and wires when I came down into step down care after my operation, I had a morphine drip coming out of my belly. When I was moved to step down care, which is like intensive care, I couldn’t do many things like have a shower, or eat, my appetite was gone, I was also prone to projectile vomiting. I was in striking agony, my body had my mind had become thrillingly deathly and weak, sometimes the pain was such agony I just wanted to not be here to be numb and dead. I was heavily medicated and was begging for the next bout of morphine or strong painkillers. All I could think about was the pain, I was hotly suffering, it was inescapable. My body wasn’t untouched and virginal any more it had been penetrated by horrific implements and crocheted up quite neatly. It felt like the belly of Frankenstein or his bride, swollen, garnet red, jaundice yellow and mercury green, bruised and blood crusted. Now there was the grim threat of having to recover and leave hospital at some point, the sanctuary and safety of the gynaecology ward. When I was well enough over the arduous two month confinement I applied my war paint, my make up and did my hair, it cocooned me lushly with glamour, it made me feel like me. Cancer was not me, it was decaying my body. The drips, the gas marks, the chest drains, lung drains, IV’s, meds, painkillers, sick bowls and everything else was too much. I avoided moving around at first, then the physio began to help me. Slowly I was putting myself back together, able to shower, eat normally and apply make up and do my hair. My body felt like a sickening stranger, abnormal, swollen and ruby bright stitches still in my belly. They started to dissolve in the shower, my belly button had been moved. I wasn’t even told that my appendix had been removed. It was disturbing to learn of anonymous strangers prodding at my bits, my slimy organs and kidnapping them from me. I was transforming from a healthy, ignorant caterpillar into a medically embattled butterfly, Madame Ovary. The cancer was inside one ovary, my left ovary. I thought I was incorruptible, I developed a pretty dark sense of humour afterwards. Ovarian Cancer had made itself quite at home in me, it was Stage 1ca cancer mucinous carcinoma,- was an invasive type of cancer, beginning in the internal organ and producing mucin, which is mucus. Most types like this are benign, thankfully, I am still fertile even after six months of gruelling chemotherapy, I am now having my eggs frozen soon. I have scans every three months to see if Ovarian Cancer has returned. I am still healthy and alive, but reinvigorated with hope, fear, strength and mental and physical scarring. My fallopian tubes hadn’t been removed and thankfully I didn’t have the gene for Ovarian Cancer. I have been transformed, I feel like a broken pot that has been reattached and cemented in gold, this gilded joinery- Kintsugi, the gold glint seams of my body and mind are now healing and transforming.
Sunita is a published poet and has had a book of poetry published by Black Pear Press with proceeds going to two different Ovarian Cancer Charity. She also has another book of poetry to be published by Wild Pressed Books in November 2020.
She has recently taken part in a performance poetry event for 'She Speaks' in Derbym as well Duffield Arts Festival, Performance Poetry at Nottingham Writer's Studio, Derby Poetry Festival, Radio BBC Derby and will be taking part in Nottingham Poetry Festival. She has also performed her poetry and been interviewed for BBC Radio Derby Upload.
Sunita has dabbled in many things including being a model, primary and secondary school teacher and trained as a make up artist. She has recently suffered from Ovarian Cancer, but is not yet in remission. She loves to sing and take singing lessons and has a beautiful, male Samoyed puppy named Ghost.
You can find her on twitter, facebook and instagram as @sunitathind.