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My Frightening Ovarian Ultrasound

My Frightening Ovarian Ultrasound

I was never comfortable with the idea of miracles. And then one happened to me.

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The idea of a miracle always made me uncomfortable. So many tragedies happen, so many prayers are left seemingly unanswered. I always considered myself a believer, but sometimes the sad endings affected me, and made me question those beliefs. That is, until a miracle happened to me. My own experience shook me up, and I can see that despite what I sometimes perceive as God ignoring us, He is always watching and listening, and helps us more than we can ever know.

As I sat in the doctor’s office waiting for my appointment, a lovely nurse named Chris came out. She asked me how I was doing, we exchanged a few words, and walked away. Chris was cheerful as usual, but on this visit I sensed something about her demeanor that was extra caring. I wondered why today of all days she took the time to talk to me and to look at pictures of my son. That’s never happened before. A nervous feeling ran through me.

This was a follow-up appointment after having an ovarian ultrasound. I came in for a routine ultrasound, and instead of receiving the usual call saying that everything looked normal, the nurse on the other end said that the ultrasound looked abnormal. My right ovary was enlarged and I needed to schedule a follow-up appointment with my doctor. He was out of town, so I would have to wait an entire week before I could see him.

Having had a family history of cancer, I couldn’t wait. I quickly scheduled an appointment for a second opinion with another doctor on the following day. An emotionless nurse performed a second ultrasound and promised that the doctor would call soon. The doctor called later that afternoon saying that in fact everything looked normal and even though the right ovary is significantly enlarged, he didn’t see anything wrong with it. In addition to that, the CA125 blood test (a test for cancer markers) also came back with very low numbers. With a deep breath, I was able to let go of some of my anxiety. I would be able to enjoy Shabbos without this hanging over my head.

“Your right ovary is twice as big as your left. There appears to be a mass.”

A week later, sitting at my doctor’s office waiting for my follow-up visit, I replayed that in my mind, trying to soothe myself. The second doctor would have told me if something was wrong. After Chris walked away, and 20 long minutes of waiting, I was finally called in and the doctor, herself, performed a third ultrasound. She didn’t say much until she was done.

“Your right ovary is twice as big as your left. There appears to be a mass which has characteristics that are highly suspicious for a malignancy. The best thing you have going for you now is your age. It is very unlikely for a woman your age to have ovarian cancer, but we still have to investigate further to find out what it is. You have two options, schedule a surgery or wait and rescan. The surgery would be done laparoscopically. I will do my best to remove the mass and save the ovary, but looking at the mass on the ultrasound, it is very unlikely.”

All this information was thrown at me while I was still in my hospital gown. The word “surgery” hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t respond or process all the information. I just cried. The doctor tried to be sensitive. She advised me to think everything over and call her with our decision. Chris rushed back into the room and said in the most caring way, “Our ovaries do weird things. We don’t know what this is yet, don’t worry we’re going to take care of you.” She actually did make me feel a little better. I walked out of the office knowing that I had a big challenge ahead of me.

I had to decide how to deliver the information to my husband, how to continue being a mom to my 14-month-old son, how to continue living with this information. I cried a lot. The only images I could see was not being around to watch my son grow up, seeing my husband struggle to move on and juggle life. I’m only 32, I thought. In my mind’s eye, I remember watching a friend lose her life to a very rare cancer at age 30. These things happen to regular people. I begged God to please take this terrible decree away from me. To please make life go back to how it was before, boring. Boring seemed so great now.

It took many conversations with my husband, Rabbis, friends, but I finally I collected myself and decided to try and deal with each challenge individually as it came. Step by step. I tried not to look too far ahead. My goal was to continue living a normal life. Taking care of my baby, working, and trying to be a good wife. I knew that I couldn’t change the situation, but I could change the way I dealt with it (even though I felt that I was failing miserably most of the time). My name was put on davening lists locally and in Israel at the Kotel. I couldn’t believe that I became one of those people, on a list, that needed prayers for a full recovery.

I emailed my Rabbi, asking him how to keep moving forward during such a challenging time. His response was, “Very recently, I too had a big scare. My response was to tell myself that it is an opportunity to strengthen my trust in God and that I did not want to feel a failure on Rosh Hashanah, by which time everything will, with the help of God, have worked out fine.” Instead of feeling bad for myself, I can focus on my trust in God, and working towards being a better person for Rosh Hashanah. What a selfless perspective, I thought. I wish I can get into that mindset. Rosh Hashanah was two months away.

The next six weeks were full of ups and downs. The ups were getting test results that pointed us in the direction that the mass seemed to be benign. The downs were seeing the mass still there on each ultrasound and not shrinking. After speaking with numerous doctors, we set a date for the surgery. The day came, help with the baby was arranged, and my husband and I drove quietly to the hospital.

We prayed that God let us go back to living a normal, boring life.

As they prepared me for surgery, I prayed that the mass be benign and that I should just come out of this nightmare healthy and able to live a normal life. We were aware that the “best case scenario” meant that I walk away from this most likely without an ovary, but cancer free. We prayed that God let us go back to living a normal, boring life.

As I woke up from surgery, still feeling the effects of the anesthesia, my doctor said, “Everything went very well. No cancer!” That’s all I remember.

After a few hours, my husband was allowed into my room. The doctor told him that when they went in, they saw right away that the ovary that appeared to have a mass was partially twisted. It looked like a mass on an ultrasound, but it was in fact a torsion, a twisting of the ovary that was blocking the blood supply. All they had to do was untwist it and everything shrunk back to its normal size.

I could not believe what I had heard. God had not only listened to my prayers, but answered them in a bigger way than I could have ever asked! As Rosh Hashanah comes closer this year, I have the same goal as I did last year, to be a better person and a better Jew. I have to consciously tell myself every morning that not only does He listen, but He cares. Facing the New Year, I will have gratitude and love for the past year that He gave my family and for the immense gift of health. There is no taking for granted the simple things in life anymore. Everything is a miracle!

August 22, 2015

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 11

(9) Marianna Feldman, August 31, 2015 4:56 PM

Response

I wrote this article to inspire people who may be going through challenging times to believe that miracles can happen. I believe that God can do anything; He can make someone sick and He can take a sickness away in one instance. Its true that this could have ended very differently. Thank God it didn't! I choose to believe that God made a miracle for me and my family by listening to our prayers and taking the terrible decree away.

(8) Anonymous, August 28, 2015 9:26 AM

Miracle?

I'm very very happy for the writer and everyone else who finds out that they don't have cancer. My comments are not personal to her at all, and I wish her and her family only the best of everything. But I must comment: Why was this a miracle? The ultrasounds showed an enlargement, and when the doctors saw it in the surgery, it was in fact twisted. Why is this a miracle? It appeared as one thing and was in fact something else. HaSh-m didn't change anything. The truth was revealed upon closer inspection. I'd call that clarification, not a miracle. Best of health to everyone!

(7) John, August 27, 2015 11:36 PM

Decision time

My older sister (one of two) had ovarian cancer more than 30 years ago. The tumor was the size of a grapefruit in her ovary, and about to rupture when it was removed. They told her her chances of having children were small or none all together. She began chemotherapy but soon refused it, and optioned for an alternate health lifestyle approach. It worked, and she was later able to have 2 children (a boy and a girl) because of her change of strategy/mind.

Thank you for your story, and have a healthy rest of your life. G-d bless!

(6) Prodigal48, August 27, 2015 9:28 PM

Thank you for sharing your story with us. How wonderful our God, our Captain, is to heal and bless you and your family in this way so you can tell the world. Blessings, blessings, to you.

(5) Shelly, August 27, 2015 4:24 PM

To Heidi

Heidi, I fully understand what you say. Would the author have the same beliefs if, G-d forbid, she actually had a cancerous ovary? As an oncology nurse, I interact with those who did NOT get the "good" results. Many maintain their faith. Others do not. I am amazed at those who suffered horrific losses, such as Rachelli Frankel and Sherri Mandel who lost their sons to terrorists. When I think about what hey have overcome and how they have not only existed after such traumatic losses but how they maintained their faith and helped and supported others is incomprehensible to me. Therefore, I can understand your thoughts regarding the author and the outcome. Let us just thank G-d that the author will not have to go through any of the trials that ovarian cancer patients need to. All the best.

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