Heather Otto

First post: Jun 3, 2020 Latest post: Feb 25, 2022
I’ve been seeking medical help for quite some time. I've had a slew of non-specific abdominal pain and symptoms, like many females my age, all of which were attributed to a variety of causes: pregnancies, vaginal delivery repercussions, c-section repercussions, tight pelvic floor muscles, depression, IUD side effects, endometriosis, etc. I became accustomed to being a person with many "female problems" and had been trying to manage without complaining too much.

Starting in January it became too much for me. I "complained" more and pushed for tests. Despite abnormal labs and imaging, the MDs treating my pain were convinced it was endometriosis. Once the diagnosis was made, everyone went with it because it “made sense”. The MDs were so convinced, in fact, that they chose not to biopsy abnormal tissues while I was under surgery to investigate the issue. My saving grace has been a low, persistent, continuous level of HCG (pregnancy hormone). This hormone can be secreted in some presentations of cancers but is not always there. I was treated for ectopic pregnancy (because of the hcg) and endometriosis, turns out neither of which I had. Even with the repeated abnormal presentation, assumptions were made. After all, I was a healthy, 34 year old woman, so how could I fit outside a medical box?

Treatments have begun now and as you can imagine, it feels like baptism by fire. I have had surgeries, started chemotherapy, have new medical devices in my body, and the list of medications is unreal. I have all the range of feelings you can imagine. And they can vary from moment to moment. One moment, I am in acceptance and willing to do whatever I can. The next, I can be so angry or sad that I don’t know what to do with myself. I look at my husband and children and think “Why me??” Truthfully, why anyone?? Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Who knows if the outcome would be different, but had cancer not been continually ruled out strictly because of my age, the process may have been different.

My hope is to inspire you to be your best self advocate, no matter the circumstances. If you EVER have anything that you think is abnormal with your health, continue to seek help and fight for advance tests. Fight for yourself and don't take a single day for granted.

I do not know what my new normal will be, or what my family's new normal will be. Will there even be a “normal?” Only time will tell. I have vowed to have an underlying level of positivity, but still allow myself the honest feelings. The road of chemo, surgery, and other treatments is long. I have to fight. I know God is by my side and will guide my path and heart.

Without question or hesitation, this page was set up by our church, EDEN, and has expanded to a community beyond my comprehension. I am extraordinarily overwhelmed with the family, friends, and community outreach. It is truly humbling and I feel all of your grace and warm love. It may take some time, but I sincerely hope to thank each of you individually.

I love you all and I promise to do my best