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Ovarian Cancer Community
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Avatar universal

How to calm myself down before surgery?

I’m 21 years old and two months ago I went to the ER with severe abdominal pain and they told me I had 7 cm complex cyst on my right ovary
So I see an OB/GYN for the first time a couple weeks later and he said that the ultrasound report said it was a solid mass which indicated it was likely a tumor, not a cyst. The repeat UT (two weeks after the first one) showed it had grown a whole centimeter. He said there was >5% it was cancer given my age but sent me to have it removed by a gynecological oncologist just in case. So I went to meet the surgeon and she examined me and said there was an 80% change it was benign (queue me freaking out still). She said it felt smooth and my lymph nodes weren’t inflamed or anything which was a good sign. My labs for cancer markers were normal too but the surgeon says they’re not very accurate as far as detecting cancer. And I think she said it’s near my bladder (which I’m guessing would explain why it’s been more difficult for me to pee with a full bladder?)
The soonest surgery date we could get was 3 weeks away, so 3 whole weeks of rapidly increasing anxiety and depression over it. The surgery is 6 days away now and I’m so terrified. The thing I’m most worried about is the possibility of malignancy, but I’ve also never had surgery before so I’m very worried about what if there dare complications during the procedure? I’m also worried about recovery. They’re going to do a laparotomy with a vertical incision so that’s gonna be a pretty big cut, and I do not handle pain well at all, and I’m paranoid I’ll do something wrong like I won’t walk enough and I’ll get a blood clot or the incision will get infected. Not to mention we’ll have thousands of dollars in medical bills and I feel guilty for having to burden my mom with it. She’s already missed so much work to take me to the ER and doctors appointments and she never has time to rest.
I’ve had so many doctors appointments and each time I have to sit in the waiting room for 2 hours just to see the doctor for 15 minutes which has also run my anxiety sky high. At every single doctors appointment I’ve had to make an excuse to pee just so I could cry in the bathroom.
My emotions have been a roller coaster the past few weeks and I’m so stressed out. I can’t talk about it with my friends because they don’t know how to respond and it just makes them uncomfortable and my mom won’t even let me say the C word and she just says I need to change my depression meds. For a week I was having weird stomach pains to which made me extra worried, and I just flat out stopped eating and lost 5 lbs in 10 days.
I’m just so stressed out and have no one to talk to and everything makes me cry now.
I just don’t know what to do or how to calm down about it I’m just so emotionally exhausted. Any advice or support would be greatly appreciated.
1 Responses
Avatar universal
Ugh! I've been in your shoes. I know all too well how fear takes over! And trust me, it can consume us and make for bad and rash decisions. Gynecologic surgeries are way overused. These include hysterectomy (uterus removal), oophorectomy (ovary removal), cyst removals, and c-section. They are big money makers for surgeons, anesthesiologists, hospitals.

Ovarian cancer is rare for women without a family history. Less than 2% of women get it (1.3% per SEER statistics). Ovarian cysts are very common and most are benign, even complex ones. And most resolve on their own. However, being that yours is 7cm, it may not go away. Since this is a "solid mass" it could even be hemorrhagic (blood filled) since those appear solid on imaging. And hemorrhagic cysts go away on their own although they can grow before resolving. It would be a real shame to go through surgery if it wasn't necessary especially if they remove your ovary.

This site is very informative - http://ovaryresearch.com/ovarian_cysts.htm. It talks about the various types of cysts and the fact that surgeons with good cystectomy skills can almost always remove just the cyst keeping the ovary intact. The non-profit HERS Foundation also has some info on their site about ovarian cysts.

Not only is preservation of the ovary important for fertility, the ovaries produce health promoting hormones a woman's whole life. Removal of even one ovary has been shown to increase risk for some health problems such as cognitive impairment, dementia and parkinsonism.

Have you gotten multiple opinions and ones from doctors in different networks (e.g. affiliated with different physician groups and hospitals)? Have you gotten a copy of your medical records especially the imaging report that describes the cyst? If so, do you want to share what it says about the cyst's characteristics?

What have you been told about details of the surgery besides that it will be a laparotomy? Some surgeons do not offer laparoscopic because they don't have those skills. Now if the cyst has a "good" chance of being malignant, laparotomy is normally done. But again, if there's no family history, cancer is unlikely. And what were you told about removal of the cyst versus ovary and any other organs? Women seldom are provided with all these details. Regardless of what you are told, you will want to revise the surgical consent form to make your wishes explicit and have the surgeon sign off on your revisions. For instance, if the cyst is benign (based on the frozen section done while you're in the OR), only the cyst should be removed. All organs should be left intact. Complete the consent form and secure surgeon's sign-offs days before surgery. That way if the surgeon is not "on the same page" you can cancel.

I wish I had known much more than I did 12 years ago when my sex organs were unnecessarily removed.

I hope this helps! I know it's hard to think clearly through all this but it's important. And don't let anyone rush you into it. If will be happy to share more if you have questions.
4 Comments
Thank you for the response! I never got an email and didn’t see it until just now.
Well my surgery was 10 days ago and it did turn out to be a tumor that had basically replaced my ovary so it did need to be removed, they also happened to find a cyst on my left ovary that they removed too.
The tumor was benign and I’m SO relieved.
So now I’m just paranoid about whether or not my incision is healing right lol
I'm glad the tumor was benign. So did your surgeon remove the right ovary along with the tumor or just the tumor? Did she remove just the cyst on your left ovary preserving your ovary? I hope your recovery goes well!
She removed my right ovary with the tumor because there was no way to salvage it, and my left ovary was left
Hopefully your left ovary will make up for the right one being gone. But be aware that the loss of your ovary may impair fertility and could cause symptoms of impaired ovarian function or an earlier and/or more severe menopause.
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