Ovarian Cancer Survivor
I had been telling everyone "I am just not feeling right." (for nearly a year)...I went to my primary doctor and he said, "I will bet it's your gall bladder" and sent me for tests...NOPE...those tests came back negative...more tests for gall bladder...NOPE again...test results negative..."Maybe it is a gastro issue, let's send you for an endoscopy and colonoscopy" OK, I'll do anything to get rid of this full feeling that I have all the time. NOPE test results negative...so I just resolved to the fact, I am eating the wrong foods and I will change my diet and see how that works. It didn't.
Several more months went by. On July 4th, the LOVE of my life proposed to me. We decided to get married in October. We had been living together for several years and raising my daughter (11) and his daughter (10). The wedding plan was in full swing. In August, I went shopping w/my mother and found my dress. While at lunch, I confided in her that I was having trouble going to the bathroom. I had not passed my bowels in nearly 5 days. Mom, of course, gave me an at home remedy and I did not give it another thought. I took the "Milk of Magnesia" that night and my mother said "You should wake in the morning and your problems will be gone." They weren't! When I woke...I had severe abdominal pain and still was unable to pass my bowels. My fiance said he was concerned that it might be a bowel obstruction and that I should go to the ER.
I did...and my life was forever changed! The ER staff took me to a room where they hooked me up to a monitor and put an IV in my arm. I gave a history of what had been going on for nearly the past year. The ER doctor listened and said he wanted to send me for a CT scan. This was probably the ONLY test I had not had...so Why Not? A short time later the ER doctor returned and said that they were going to keep me for observation and that another doctor would be in to consult w/me in the morning. I asked what the CT showed and the ER doctor said it shows that the lymph nodes in your abdominal cavity are enlarged. I did not give it much thought, and said OK I will wait to see the doctor tomorrow. When the doctor walked in my room the next day, and I read his white coat, I saw the word Oncologist. I knew what that meant, but why was he here for me? It seems not only were my lymph nodes enlarged, but I also had a mass on my right ovary. This mass was consistent with Ovarian Cancer. More tests needed to be done to confirm it, however he was quite confident. I frantically called my fiance and told him what the doctor suspected. I also told him I wanted a second opinion. Imagine the answer that I was waiting all this time for was given to me....but it was not the answer that I wanted. I was discharged and did some research at home.
Then I found my surgeon. He was/is the most compassionate man and put me at ease. He concurred w/the original diagnosis. I met him on Tuesday and was having surgery on Friday. I remember telling my fiance before surgery..."If it's bad we will cancel the wedding". When I awoke, he was there with tear filled eyes...I knew our worst fears were confirmed. The pain meds made it easy for me not to think about what was to come. I had a radical hysterectomy with optimal debulking. When my surgeon came in to see me, he sat on my bed and gave me the news. Stage IIIC but he did not want me to think of the stage or the diagnosis or even the prognosis. He wanted me to start thinking about getting well. Starting w/the healing process of this very major surgery that I had just gone through. He said I have a lot of things on my side that many women don't have when they are diagnosed. My age (41), my otherwise good health, and focus to get well. At that VERY moment...the focus kicked in...I'm not even sure I had it before the doctor told me I did. I remember ringing for the nurse and asking that she get me up and I start walking. She did and I was out of the hospital in 3 days. I also called my fiance and told him the wedding was not off...it would go a planned.
At home I rested but made sure that I did laps around my house 4 times a day. Before I knew it three weeks went by and I was having the 47 staples removed, and it was time to talk about chemo. The surgeon that I had chosen is more than an hour away from my home, so he suggested an Oncologist closer to me. He advised that I would be having 6 treatments every 21 days of Carboplatin and Taxotere. As I left his office, he hugged me and said you're a fighter...and I know you are going to win. Fight hard! I hugged him tightly and cried the whole way home. Three days later, I met my Oncologist and his staff.
My first chemo was set for October 1st. Already one and a half months had passed since this roller coaster ride started. Not to mention the wedding was scheduled for October 24th. How am I going to do this? You know what??? I just did. The first chemo wasn't really that bad. I slept for a few days, but that was the worst of it. My family and friends helped around the house, made meals for my family, and helped w/the wedding plans. I asked my Oncologist if it would be possible to postpone my 2nd chemo by 4 days so that I could enjoy my wedding. He agreed and Chemo #2 was done 2 days after I said "I do". I have now had 4 of my 6 chemos. I am tolerating each and every one of them. In between my treatments I focus on getting well and spreading the word about Ovarian Cancer, a disease that I knew nothing about prior to my diagnosis. My CA125 is dropping from 394 pre-surgery to 56 after 4 treatments. PET scan shows significant improvement and my mindset is good. I do believe that with a positive attitude, strong support network, excellent medical staff, and the LOVE of my family I will win this fight.