Reviewed by E.B. Heath
I have just read the second edition of Battle Scars and am basking in the reflected courage of a determined, gutsy woman, while at the same time not being at all confident that I could match Charlene Ericson’s herculean task in over-coming stage 3C ovarian cancer.
It would be a good idea for Charlene’s book Battle Scars to be read widely, and particularly by women, nurses, doctors, general practitioners and ER doctors. Charlene writes as she might talk to a group of girlfriends about her experience and it was hard, very hard.
Charlene is a thinking person. She writes briefly of her earlier life, of extricating herself from a bad relationship and then taking the time to re-think her past and what she wanted for the future. She listened to a self-help DVD, did the work suggested, made changes, removed herself from negative influences, and adopted positive thinking. And achieved all her goals! She was happy. She married a wonderful man, they both had great jobs, and later, beautiful twin girls.
The twins did not sleep much and Charlene barely slept two hours a night, before getting help from the local clinic when the babies were nine months old. Charlene urges young mothers to get professional help, particularly if they are sleep deprived and not coping.
In 2013, when the twins were a year old, the family moved to N.T. At this time she started to have symptoms that to a trained gynecologist would have suggested Ovarian Cancer. However, GPs and hospital doctors kept sending her home. And her symptoms worsened. Finally, a year after trying so hard to be taken seriously, during yet another emergency room visit, she refused to go home, insisting something was wrong. The manager of the ER Department came to help, a female doctor, and, after an examination, referred her to a consulting surgeon. At age 31 Charlene was diagnosed with late stage Ovarian Cancer.
The big take-home message from Charlene is: – ladies trust your own instincts and get a second, third or fourth opinion if needed. Do not be fobbed off! An early diagnosis improves chances of recovery hugely.
What follows in Charlene’s story is hard, but really should be read. It seems that many health care professionals are wonderful, but a few are rude and impatient and it is demoralizing for a patient who is so very ill to cope with an uncaring attitude.
Charlene recovered; her wonderful husband beside her every step of the way. And then in 2016 she suffered a recurrence. After discussions with doctors Charlene opted to have a peritonectomy, which had to be performed in N.S.W. Again, what follows is gut-wrenchingly hard, but really should be read. It is both a wake up call to be vigilant about health and a get-through-it guide.
Battle Scars, will tell you what you need to know about Ovarian Cancer. It is a hard disease to diagnose, but there are standard symptoms, which, unfortunately, are often confused with other problems. Charlene explains how it changes your life and how it doesn’t. She gives so much good advice regarding risk factors, emotional health, menopause, complementary therapies, support services and much more besides. Apart from personal history it is packed with information about all the services available.
Towards the back of the book there are other brave survivor stories: Carolyn Wagner, Karen Braes and Lee Bokemanm, all so encouraging to read.
Battle Scars is a vital book to have on the shelf. Also, a good idea to get a spare to pass to a friend suffering ill health. Charlene’s courage and humour inspires.
By Charlene Ericson
ISBN 978 0 646 96239 9