May 22, 2016 is the day my life changed forever. At age 60, I had been having relentless back pain for several weeks but waited for a family event to pass before going to the doctor. I had also been feeling bloated and had a major change in appetite. I’ve never been a big eater, so I didn’t think much of it but finally on Sunday, May 22 I went to Urgent Care, thinking there was no need to bother my primary care doctor. They listened to my symptoms, took some blood, and asked if I could come back for a cat scan the next day. They suspected it was diverticulitis or my appendix, but a cat scan would confirm. I went home feeling confident the problem would be solved the next day.
My husband came back from our cabin to go with me. I had the scan the next morning, and by the time we went back upstairs to meet with the doctor, they had already called a Gynecologist/Oncologist and two hospitals to check on openings for surgery. This was all done at Urgent Care, by a medical staff I had never met. They informed me that I had Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. They suggested immediate surgery but referred me to the Gynecologist/Oncologist for follow up.
The following week was a blur, informing our daughters and trying to grasp what lie ahead. I went into work Tuesday, turning my work over to a colleague to cover during my leave. Then I met with the doctor they referred me to and prepared for surgery on Thursday, just four days after receiving my diagnosis. It all happened so fast, I really didn’t have time to process. All I knew was that I wanted to take care of it and move on. Little did I know that it would be six months of intense treatment, and another six months of healing from that treatment before I would begin to feel “normal” again.
Surgery (including a total hysterectomy, bowel resection and debulking) was successful thanks to my extraordinary doctor which was our first huge hurdle. Several weeks later I began the prescribed six treatment regimen of the combination of Taxol/Cisplatin, both IV and IP (intraperitoneal, in my abdomen). Although I didn’t feel great most of the time, I didn’t have any severe side effects, other than fatigue and extreme loss of appetite. The home care nurses came and administered IV fluids for several days after each treatment, which was a lifesaver, keeping me hydrated when I couldn’t take in liquids or solids. I was also, eventually, prescribed
steroids which significantly restored my energy immediately following treatment. I was very fortunate to be able to take time off work and my family was always there, taking excellent care of me.
I completed treatment in October 2016 and am so thankful to report that I have remained cancer-free since that time. I know a recurrence is still a very real possibility but I have become less preoccupied by that reality and more at peace as time passes. With so many advances in treatment, I feel very encouraged knowing if I do recur, I will have even more sophisticated options to choose from. In the meantime, I continue to enjoy my life, health, family and friends, and am very hopeful for my future.
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