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Avatar universal

Scared about dermoid

(Also posted in Ovarian Cyst forum)

Hello all,

I'm so grateful to everyone who's written about their experiences with dermoids. I've been reading and rereading this forum for several months - it's one of the only things that gives me comfort.

I wanted to ask for some advice. I'm in a tough place, caught between my terror of cancer and my terror of surgery, and I wanted to ask for some input from anyone who's been through this.

I'm 44 and have had clockwork-regular periods since I started menstruating at 14. I've always been healthy and energetic - I don't even get colds, though I've always had a sensitive stomach. In March I had an irregular period (late and longer than usual), so I went to the doctor. Pap was normal but she ordered an ultrasound that showed a c. 6 cm cyst on my right ovary, which is probably a dermoid. (I'd been to the ER two years ago with excruciating abdominal pain, but they only did an abdominal ultrasound and found nothing. In retrospect, I wonder if it was the cyst.) I was completely terrified, and over the past six months I've been living a nightmare of anxiety, but at least educating myself by reading a lot about dermoids, cysts, cancer, etc.

After they found the cyst I started experiencing intermittent pinching pains in my abdomen and generally feeling unwell. I'm often tired, I've gained weight, and my stomach sometimes poofs out like a balloon (returns to normal the next day - it seems to be related to certain foods). The pain is very real, but I can't tell if I'm feeling it because now I'm aware there's a cyst in there. I wasn't feeling anything before I learned of the cyst. I've been incredibly stressed by the whole experience, and I often tend towards anxiety, so I wouldn't be surprised if stress were causing these symptoms. But I also wonder if the cyst was asymptomatic before, but when it reached a certain size it caused the irregular period that led to my going to the doctor in the first place, and then, because it had reached that size, it started causing pain.

Because of my symptoms and because I've been so frightened, I had a pelvic MRI which also said it was most likely a dermoid; I asked for another ultrasound two months later which showed that the cyst hadn't changed or grown; and I had another ultrasound a few weeks ago that also showed no change. There is no free fluid detected. I've had blood tests and checkups that all look good.

My periods have been normal since the diagnosis, except this month I've had an irregular period again - a week late, then two weeks of brown spotting, then alternating heavy and light bleeding with some clots and mucus. I've seen three very well respected gynecologists and none of them is worried. They all think it's 'just' a dermoid cyst. One of them even showed me the ultrasound pictures and pointed out the regular border and the lines indicating hair within the cyst. They've all said there's no urgency but that they'd recommend laparoscopic surgery to remove it because of the risk of torsion/rupture and also because it's the only way to know for sure what type of cyst it is. They assume the irregular periods are simply the beginning of perimenopause. I alternate between taking comfort in what they say and terrifying myself with thinking they don't really know. There is no real history of ovarian or breast cancer in my family. (My mother's father's mother unfortunately died of ovarian cancer, but there has been no other cancer in my family that I know of.) I am married, don't take birth control pills or any other prescription drugs, but have never been pregnant.

I've scheduled and cancelled the surgery multiple times because I'm so scared - scared about the outcome and scared about having surgery. I've put it off six months already, but I know I won't ever rest easy if I don't know for sure. I know others have written about their anxiety. Can anyone help me ease my mind? Any encouragement to have the surgery, and any comments about the ultrasound/MRI/doctors' reports/symptoms, would be so welcome. I've been going over all these things in my mind for so long and would love to hear what others have to say.

Thanks, friends!

3 Responses
5581828 tn?1379811492

I had a keyhole surgery in June to remove a cyst. I'd been putting it off for ages because I was TERRIFIED. Anxious doesn't do it justice, I was utterly terrified. I was actually diagnosed with a phobia of surgery (It has a name, but I can't spell it) and generalized anxiety disorder in the lead up to the surgery.

I can promise you that what you’re going through now is SO, SO much worse than the surgery.

I can’t tell you how to get through it, because the only way I got through the weeks leading up to surgery was Valium every day…. But the waiting, the anticipating, the picturing the worst? That’s the hardest part of what you have to do. The sooner you have the surgery, the sooner the hardest part will be over.

If I hadn’t have had that surgery when I did, there’s a very good chance the cancer cells they found would have spread. As it was, the only treatment I needed was a laparotomy to remove the omentum/appendix… They even ended up leaving the ovary much to my surprise.
If they hadn’t have found them when they did, there’s a pretty good chance I would have lost my one working ovary and needed further treatment.

Surgeries are never fun, but neither of mine were as horrible as I was expecting them to be. You’re going to have an entire medical team looking after you, and if you’re honest and open about what you’re feeling they’re going to be able to help you through it.

I know I wouldn’t have wanted to hear it before my first surgery, but sometimes you’ve just got to buckle down and get through what you have to get through.
If you can’t get your anxiety about it under control, talk to your doctor about it.

I never, EVER thought I was going to be able to get through the first surgery... Honestly, if I can get through it, anyone can get through it.

I hope that helps, and good luck :)
667078 tn?1316000935
With my Cancer they were sure from the ultrasound. The Oncologist was right on the money. I was surprised with an ultrasound. I had the whole big surgery, everything out. For me it was not as bad as I expected. For one thing they are pretty good with pain control. Gas pain was my worst part and that is just a memory.

Would it be nice to be on the other side of surgery and know for sure it was a Dermoid?

I have wanted to back out of every surgery I ever had it is human nature to be scared.

I have faced a lot of scary stuff medically. My experience is my fear is worse than anything I have ever faced.

I had to have a Lumbar puncture and I freaked myself out so bad I put it off for two years. I had it so scary in my mind by the time I had it they had to sedate me to do it. It was not as bad as my mind made it out to be.

I use relaxation techniques. I went to a therapist who taught me self hypnosis. I now go to sleep as soon as they put an I.V. in for surgery because I have linked I.V.s to the grand drugs they give before surgery.

The mind can be a great friend or a great foe it is all up to the way you use it. Every procedure and healing goes better if you can relax.

I had a friend say "Nothing I ever worried about happening to my son ever happened, other things I was not expecting did but not what I worried about". Most of what I worry about does not happen. Worry is trying to control the future and you can't. If I stay in the moment I am okay. Nothing too bad happens in the moment. Plenty of things I do not like have to happen but they can be lessened by the way I think about them.

You can't control surgery but you can control how you react to it. I look at it as people taking care of me. I trust them to take good care of me. I enjoy the one on one care and the great drugs.

Avatar universal
Thank you, ladies, so much. Your responses mean a lot to me.

I'm trying to gear myself up to have the surgery in two weeks. Hopefully this time I'll go through with it. I've bought a 'preparing for surgery' guided meditation CD to help.

Yes, it will be wonderful to have it all behind me. I really haven't been living the past six months, with the degree of fear I've been experiencing. It's nice to know - though I'm so sorry you both went through the terrible anxiety on top of everything - that others have been as scared as I am.

Thank you so much for the kind and helpful replies.

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