“A dull ache” in my abdomen is the best way I can describe my first symptom of ovarian cancer. Looking back, there were probably other symptoms–but they were attributed to something else. I was 47 so, “I must be in pre-menopause.” This was not only my thought but the doctor’s, as well. The dull ache wasn’t going away. It was 24/7. Medication or my handy heating pad weren’t touching it. Something wasn’t right. So, as most people with medical symptoms do…they go right to “Google”. As I scrolled and scrolled, everything kept coming up with ovarian cancer. I was very terrified! I decided to call a gynecologist specialist.
A 3D ultrasound was performed and found very large ovaries. A CA125 test was also done and came back in the 600’s. My doctor was alarmed and told me, “Everything has to come out.” This all happened in a span of about 4 days. I was referred to a gynecologic oncologist.
The gyn/onc, however, was not as alarmed and gave me ten reasons why he thought it “wasn’t” cancer. I was young, no history of cancer, I had breast fed, I was on the pill. I felt a little bit better, but still had an awful nagging feeling. The hardest thing about ovarian cancer is there is no test to give you that definitive answer. They have to biopsy while you are in surgery.
I awoke from surgery learning I had stage 3C high grade epithelial ovarian cancer. The cancer was all over! It spread to my colon and a colostomy was done. Chemo would have to be done to shrink the remaining tumor, and then I was scheduled for another debulking surgery six months later. Unfortunately, I ended up having major complications from the second surgery. I don’t think my body could keep up with all the trauma! I suffered internal bleeding, kidney failure, pancreatitis and ended up with a temporary feeding tube. I was in the hospital from Thanksgiving until Christmas.
As with every cancer survivor your life changes as soon as you hear those words: “You have cancer.” I was so fortunate to have such amazing support from my family and friends. My kids were 9 and 11 at the time, and we needed all the support we could get. People stepped in and made their life as “normal” as possible as I went through chemo and a second surgery. I will never come close to re-paying these unbelievable acts of kindness and support.
I didn’t know anything about ovarian cancer, let alone cancer. As I was going through treatment, I searched the web for other women in my area that may be going through this. A friend knew about MOCA and suggested that I contact them. I was so relieved to find this community. I wasn’t alone! I signed up for the new member meeting right away. They are an exceptional group of people who are fighting this awful cancer along with us survivors.
Currently, I am very lucky to not have had a recurrence. It is now 2019, and it has been 4 years since diagnosis. I am hoping to stay NED (no evidence of disease) for a long time.
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