I shuffled into the kitchen in my robe and slippers, hit the remote and started the coffee pot. As I waited for it to warm up I turned to my favorite news channel and listened to the top stories. Angelina Jolie had her ovaries removed. By the time my husband came into the room, I was in tears. I have almost nothing in common with Angelina Jolie, except for the fact the both of our mothers died of ovarian cancer. And now, we both have had our ovaries removed as a preventive measure.
It was almost six years ago. I had debated with myself and my doctors for a few years already. I knew I was finished having children, but I wasn't psychologically ready for this surgery and all that it entailed. Every few months I went to the doctor, I had check ups and blood tests, sonograms and MRIs. Every time I went I held my breath waiting for the results and hoping to be lucky.
My mother was diagnosed when she was 45. She died at 48 after three difficult years. She was an amazing woman, brave and beautiful, and she fought this horrible disease with all she had. But it's an awful disease.
So six years ago I went for one of my check ups and got bad news. The worst. My doctor felt something suspicious and was recommending surgery as soon as possible. I don't know how I drove home, I was crying so hard. How could I have waited, I kept thinking? My daughters were still so young. I was terrified.
Long story short, I did have my ovaries removed later that year. It wasn't an emergency after all, but after that scare I wasn't going to take any chances. I think about my mother every day, and my own daughters and their increased risk for this disease. Turning 48 was an emotional year; turning 49 felt victorious.
I understand what Angelina said in today's NY Times: I don't want my daughters to say their mother died of ovarian cancer. I wish her good health.