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.

The information enclosed in Survivor Stories should not be considered a substitute for the opinion of a qualified health care provider. MOCA does not recommend or guarantee any product mentioned. Please use this information to assist you in obtaining further information and in making your own health care decisions.

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