They say life is made of small moments, but just one moment can change your life forever. At 52, I was told I had an aggressive form of ovarian cancer and it was Stage 4.
When it was detected, my tumor was about the size of a pineapple.
I thought, now I know why my right hip hurts — because it’s my right ovary. I was also experiencing lower back pain and bloating. Suddenly, all the symptoms added up.
I was already at stage 4, meaning the cancer had spread. It had moved throughout my abdominal cavity and lungs.
NO TIME TO LOSE
After the tears and initial shock subsided, my entire family and medical team quickly moved into action mode. My first surgery was to remove cancer from my lungs.
It was a fearful time, but I remained positive.
Two weeks later, while still recovering, I underwent a nine-hour abdominal surgery, which included a full hysterectomy. The tumor was removed, along with my gallbladder, part of my colon and dozens of lymph nodes.
I underwent dose dense chemotherapy every week for nearly 8 months. It was grueling. I lost my hair and energy, but I never lost hope. I credit my medical team, along with many fierce, loyal friends and family who served as my support system, for helping me hold onto hope during this challenging time.
I went into remission, though with stage 4, I knew I would never really be considered cured. My hair grew back. Then one day, a year and a half after my initial diagnosis, I felt a lump on my neck. It was a recurrence of the ovarian cancer.
This meant more surgery and chemo and losing my hair again. The treatment was even harder on my body the second time, but my hope persisted.
‘I’m faking it ‘till I make it,’” was a favorite saying of mine during that time. I went into a wonderful 3-year remission filled with much joy, traveling and quality time with family and friends.
At 6 1/2 years out from diagnosis, the cancer returned again in my brain. I had an invasive neurosurgery and Gamma Knife surgery. I am currently in my 3rd course of chemotherapy. Once again, the chemotherapy is working. I am looking forward to another remission.
I continue to truly enjoy and live life fully with stage 4 cancer.
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