In April of 2011, I was diagnosed with Stage 3B ovarian (high grade serous) cancer at age 57.

I believe my symptoms started about 7 months earlier, in November of 2010…

– One day my 25 lb. dog stepped on my left lower abdomen and I felt a pressure;
– I was more tired, taking naps after work;
– I had gained 10 lbs. over the last year, had a small appetite and got full fast.

In January 2011, I saw my internist for my annual physical with a routine PAP test. I remember thinking later on, I wonder why my vaginal exam was so painful and I should call my doctor to discuss. Well, I never did, that is until April when the pressure got worse and now I was having frequent urination during the night and pain with gas and bowel movements.

I made an appointment with my internist for lower abdominal pain. This time on exam, a mass was felt, it was painful and tender. An ultrasound was ordered which revealed a large lower left abdominal mass. I was referred to an OB/GYN for follow-up who ordered a transvaginal ultrasound, a CA125 “tumor marker” blood test and a pelvic CT scan, along with a referral to a gynecological oncologist surgeon.

I was scheduled for surgery on April 8, 2011, and awoke from surgery to discover I had ovarian cancer with metastasis to the omentum. 14 of 14 peri-abdominal lymph nodes removed and tested negative.

On May 18, 2011, I started on a chemotherapy regimen, which included intravenous and intraperitoneal, Cisplatinum, Taxol, and Avastin (a clinical trial drug study). My chemo ended on Sept 15; however, the Avastin infusions lasted about another year, ending in August 2012.

The summer of 2011 was tough: I battled severe nausea and abdominal pain and weighed only 97 lbs. (a 23 lb. weight loss since surgery). On July 26, I was hospitalization for intractable abdominal pain, nausea, dehydration, hypokalemia, weakness, pancytopenia, anemia, neutropenia – I was a mess!

I had a wonderful nurse admit me to the oncology unit and when she took my history she quickly realized I needed the “BAD” infusion – Benadryl, Ativan, Dexamethasone. Thank you, God! Relief was almost immediate.

In mid-September I suffered another setback of continued abdominal pain and nausea despite all of the oral medications I was taking. I went into my cancer clinic and the decision was made to send me home with an infusion of the BAD. I was able to manage this myself with the help of my husband and a home infusion company. I could also give myself IV fluids, which was a big advantage, as even water tasted like metal.

Fast forward to November 2013, I had my first reoccurrence; a 1.5 cm retroperitoneal lymph node was biopsied and positive for metastatic cancer.

I underwent 6 cycles of chemo – Carboplatinum and Taxol. That proved to be ineffective as a February 2014 CT scan showed continued growth of the lymph nodes, so chemo again… a clinical trial of Doxil was prescribed from Dec – Jan 8, 2014. This was stopped due to a severe body rash.

Then, a new chemo regimen was prescribed – Alimta, which I received until Oct 2014.

My known risk factors include: My age, never had children, hormone replacement therapy for 5 years, and a positive family history of breast cancer in 2 maternal aunts.

So today I am feeling great with plenty of energy. It will be 5 years this October (2019) since I’ve had chemo and last Spring I celebrated my 7-year mark!

I thank God every day for the gift of life and my awesome support systems including my family, friends and medical team who got me through this journey. I continue to see my oncologist every 6 months for labs and CT scans.

Thank you for reading my story and please spread the word about ovarian cancer signs, symptoms and HOPE!

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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