It began in April 2016 with severe but intermittent abdominal cramping.
But I was busy, so I waited.
I worked hard and had a ton of fun for the month of June with my inaugural Aartz West Summer camp. Great kids, wonderful art.
The symptoms occurred fairly frequently.
But I was busy, so I ignored them.
DON'T IGNORE THEM.
Then, because the symptoms were persistent and I have been a celiac since 1992 and celiacs may or may not have a tendency towards colon cancer (research differs) I asked my Doc William Leeson, to schedule a colonoscopy for the Friday after Aartz West had finished.
The colonoscopy was unsuccessful.
So Bill (who was much more alarmed than I was) scheduled another one for the following Monday.
It was unsuccessful.
THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A VERY STRONG CLUE.
A SLEDGEHAMMER clue.
But I was busy-
I was enroute to Vermont for Summer Aartz in the Green Mountains and 25 aspiring artists.
So I put myself on a liquid diet and drove 2250 miles to Brandon Vermont. As always Summer Aartz was wonderful. I FELT BETTER!
So much better in fact that when I returned to NM in early August and met with a surgeon we agreed that there was no need for exploratory surgery.
My students from Castleton University arrived in mid-August to begin our Semester in the American Southwest. It's a 2.5 month semester with unique opportunities for experiential learning in a wide variety of subjects. Based in Santa Fe, we travel 6000 miles around the Southwest, camping, hiking and exploring ancient and contemporary cultures.
But gradually the symptoms returned, full force.
I couldn't ignore it anymore.
So between field trips with 15 college students, hikes, classes at Santa Fe Clay, primitive firings, New Mexican cooking lessons, Spanish conversation classes, etc. I began a series of meetings with different doctors; then a barium cat scan and finally a needle biopsy.
Then came the call, late on a Friday afternoon with a verdict: Ovarian cancer Stage 3C. Then began a whirlwind of tests, appointments, a PET scan and finally the surgery on November 1st!
It's such a bizarre experience. For the most part I feel mostly fine at this point, though the oncologists tell me that it is Stage III. Chemo is hard in strange ways. But they say that I have an excellent chance of beating it due to new treatments. Scientific research. Clinical trials.
Thank you, CaringBridge. I am so grateful for this opportunity to tell the tale in one place. As you can imagine, it's hard keeping track of all of the emails, messages and FB messages that spin through the cyberworld as I ride this roller coaster called ovarian cancer. It is a chimera residing in my belly in the process of eviction.
If you'd like to read the whole story thus far, scroll down to the bottom of the journal entries and read upwards.