In her last PEOPLE.com blog, Diem Brown, the Real World/Road Rules Challenge contestant recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the second time, chronicled her mood swings while taking fertility drugs. Now, she opens up about her anxiety over her final egg retrieval procedure – and her upcoming cancer treatment.
Calm. Breathe in slowly. You have done this before. It’s easy. Just turn on your autopilot and let the doctors work their miracles.
I’m here at the NYU fertility clinic awaiting my second egg retrieval. I’m the first retrieval appointment of the day, so the waiting room is empty. It’s just me and the nurse behind the check-in counter.
I get excited thinking of what’s about to happen. I’m hoping I can get all eight eggs from the eight egg follicles that Dr. Grifo spotted the previous day.
I’m nervous because I know this is my last shot. No more tries and no more stalling before chemo. Today is the last day of being a “normal healthy girl who’s just getting some eggs out.” Tomorrow, my mind will focus on phase two – the realization that I’m once again a cancer patient.
My stomach is in knots as I sit in the waiting room. I try to find some peace, but I can’t relax or calm down. I can’t explain why this moment has me so tense because I’ve done this before and I know it’s painless. So why in the world am I freaking out? Errr! I know! That stupid cancer bell is ringing in my ear … the cancer bell that I have shut out and avoided listening to is ringing louder.
As I sit and wait, I fidget with the tattered ends of my long brown dress, and then I’m overcome with relief as I hear the office music. Wait, is that? Oh my word it is. LOL. It’s “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. I smile and my mind escapes the stress as I think of the Harvard Baseball team lip-syncing her song on YouTube! I can’t help but smile and mentally lip-sync along!
I always feel that my mom, who has passed, is with me through songs I listen to on the radio or shuffle through on my iPod. Without fail, whenever I’m at a low point or in a confused moment, the perfect song comes on and directs my mood. I know it sounds silly, but I think I have some sort of psychic connection with the radio. It’s like my Magic 8 Ball.
As the song ends, I’m now focused on the white sheet of paper on my lap that gives the anesthesiologist the permission to put me under. I’m always fascinated by what we can medically accomplish these days. I mean, a clear liquid going into your veins can put you to sleep so deeply that you don’t feel a thing! That’s pretty remarkable if you ask me.
Every time the door to the surgery room opens, my heart drops. “Ahhh! Okay, stop it Diem! Chill out!” I’m so confused by my anxiety. The procedure doesn’t hurt at all. Why am I feeling like this? I think it’s because the process feels so foreign.
Once they call my name I know the routine. I change into scrubs, put on a hairnet and footsies, and leave everything in a locker. Then, it’s on to the scale to get weighed, followed by the blood pressure test. I know all of this, so why am I all knotted up inside?
I know what it is … it’s the part where I lie down on the table and relinquish my arm to the IV and slowly fall asleep, only to awake shortly afterwards to find out how many eggs they got. That part holds so much weight. That part holds the key to my fertility in the future. And this time I have no more options for another round of retrieval.
After this egg retrieval today comes “THE SURGERY” to remove my last remaining ovary. It’s a scary thought because this begins the journey down the bumpy and curvy cancer treatment road. The fertility road was so much nicer and I’m not ready to turn off just yet.
Ahhh, the door just opened and my named is called!!
Waking up from surgery, I’m groggy and I scan the recovery room for a nurse. As she approaches, I try to analyze the expression on her face hoping for an early hint about the news she’s going deliver.
“We got seven eggs and we were able to freeze six of those eggs,” she says with a smile.
I’m elated! My heart beats with joy and I’m over-the-moon with the news of six eggs. Six eggs, combined with the four from my first egg retrieval, and I have 10 eggs total!!
The news confirms for me that I did the right thing by deciding to follow through with this second round of fertility. Six extra eggs elevates my chances for having my own biological babies in the future. Nothing can keep me from smiling at this moment!
I’m going to hold onto these feelings of elation throughout my next two phases (surgery and chemo). I now have a happy spot to run to when I feel the world go dark. I always try to find a happy spot because I think it’s the best way to escape from the tight grip depression can have.
Happy Day and a New Friend!
Another happy spot for me was going to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund’s Super Saturday! Holy word!! I have never seen so many amazing clothes in one place, and by the end of the day, I got four dresses that retailed at over $600 dollars each for only $25 bucks each!! $25 dollars! Are you kidding me??? Hello summer dresses for hot and sticky N.Y.C.!
The event was amazing because every dollar spent goes directly to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) so you have NO buyer’s remorse. You feel a part of something amazing! You feel like you’re contributing towards the hope for a cure!!
Another plus was meeting the insanely sweet and incredibly too cute for words, Kelly Ripa! Her captivating smile and comforting words made me warm up inside and I got a kick out of seeing that we rocked the same hair style. Holla!
Super Saturday is forever on my calendar now. Not only did I get cool clothes, but I saw all my favorite stars of Real Housewives of New York bargain shopping, and I met the wonderful Mrs. Ripa! And more dear to my heart, I also felt included in a community that wants to bring awareness to the silent killer that is ovarian cancer and made a connection to the OCRF for its desire to find a cure for this nasty disease!
Check back for updates every Thursday: Diem will be chronicling her journey through fertility treatments, chemotherapy, and her quest to educate others about ovarian health exclusively for PEOPLE.com