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Excerpts From The Hysterectomy Book

Hysterectomy Book Front Cover

Chapter 2

Not Your Mother’s Hysterectomy: An Introduction to the Modern Era

When I first met Roni Lowery in my office, she had that look I’ve seen so many times before-that “Please tell me I don’t have cancer” look.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Kowalski,” I said, my large hand enveloping hers in our handshake. We sat together in my consultation room around a small table. She leaned forward in her chair with her hands clasped tightly, her bright green eyes begging for a shred of good news.. With her curly blond hair, infectious smile, and New York accent, she was a woman who usually lights up a room. . But that day, she seemed small and frail.

“I haven’t been feeling well for a while, but I shrugged it off,” she admitted. “I thought the bleeding and pain were probably just my same old ovarian cysts acting up again.” But the symptoms got worse. She felt pain under her right breast. She couldn’t take a deep breath. Lying on her right side became unbearable.

She made up innocuous explanations in her head: maybe it’s a urinary tract infection or a flu bug. Or maybe a pulled muscle. “Finally it got so bad, I went to the emergency room. The doctor there told me I had a large cyst on my left ovary, opposite of the side with the pain. He said I should see my gynecologist right away.”

At this point, she still didn’t think it could be anything serious. But when her gynecologist said he didn’t like the way her ovary looked, she began to worry. “He sent me to the lab to have that blood test for ovarian cancer, the CA-125?” she looked at me for confirmation.

I nodded. This test is ordered when ovarian cancer is suspected.“Then I had to wait for the results. I was on pins and needles.” A few days later, an old friend came from Los Angeles for moral support, and the two went straight to the lab to get the results. “It was the lab tech who gave them to me,” Roni paused, taking a deep breath. I glanced at her file: her CA-125 level was 190 Units/mL, with a normal level being between 0 and 30 Units/mL.

“That’s when it hit me. Oh my God, I have cancer! I’m going to need a hysterectomy, just like my mother had. I went out to my car and just bawled.”

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