A health plant getting watered standing next to an unhealthy looking plant in the sun

When My Body Starts To Fail

In September 2018, I received a diagnosis of high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma. Suddenly, cancer indeed took on a primary focus. I stopped working full-time, began researching, and came to terms with this news.

For two years, physicians evaluated a lump in my abdomen. Then, finally, their diagnosis of an innocuous hernia convinced me I could brush away my concerns. After that, I was only too happy to be able to go on with my life. But then, I learned that even trusted physicians might miss important diagnostic factors related to ovarian cancer.

Eventually, I learned about the involvement of both ovaries and fallopian tubes, a perirectal nodule, an umbilical hernia sac, and cells within the omentum (the membrane lining the abdominal organs). So, cancer had already made its way through my abdominal cavity. Meanwhile, I had decisions to make. At one point, I traveled to a major cancer center four hours from home to confirm the plan. When I asked, my oncologist told me I could only expect to live about four years. I immediately responded, "That's not long enough."

Don’t Panic

Before you all panic, let me be clear. Everyone has a different experience with ovarian cancer. Notably, individuals with cancer in an early stage have a different story. Ultimately, treatment was necessary for me but could delay the advance of this disease.

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Choosing to Engage Fully in Treatment

I considered chemotherapy a necessary choice, along with complex and sometimes devastating surgeries.

Having a choice is an integral part of this scenario and always to be remembered by my readers. We have many options along the way regarding our treatment and only need to ask.

What happened next

Based on conclusions, I succumbed to infusions of Taxol, Cisplatin, and Avastin every few weeks. The same drugs that I needed to save me almost did me in. It is hard to explain unless you have lived it, but I had no interest in food or hydration. Finding the energy to rise from the couch took a concentrated effort. With this first round of chemotherapy, I ended up in the emergency room, barely able to walk and needing immediate medical attention. Chemo placed me in renal failure.

Three years into treatment, I started a new series of chemotherapy with different combinations of agents, including Gemzar, Carboplatin, and Avastin, followed by Avastin maintenance. Unfortunately, the PET Scans continued to reveal evidence of peritoneal disease. Activity in the iliac and para-aortic nodes and the sigmoid colon indicated metastases. Moreover, it seems cancer was traveling into my lymphatic system, which may also explain changes showing a pleural effusion.

A thoracentesis was ordered last week, and 800 ml of yellowish-green fluid was removed from the pleural sac outside my right lung. The lab evaluation showed Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus, a bacteria. New antibiotics were ordered, and additional cytology evaluation is underway. The answers are not all in yet, but the possibility of evidence of another type of cancer is most pressing.

Just When You Though It Was Safe To Go Back Into The Water [Jaws 2]

In my case, I realize that the classification of Ovarian Cancer Stage III C defines the likelihood that this disease has already metastasized and could continue to do so. So I got that early on. Yet, the sequence and type of additional disease possibilities are suddenly becoming clearer.

Finding the positive

Trying to be as positive as possible, I never asked what I could expect. Cancer can be so all-encompassing daily that most of my attention is directed toward coping in the here and now. This measure is still the best thing we can do for ourselves. However, I encourage you to remain vigilant about any signs and symptoms requiring attention. For example:

  • What does it mean to have a cough that lingers beyond what is common for you?
  • Do you experience any abdominal or lower back pain?
  • Are there changes in elimination? If constipated, are you addressing the potential of any obstruction?
  • Are you hydrating, and is urine adequate?
  • Are you showing signs of increased protein in your urine?
  • What safety measures are in place if neuropathy is present in your hands or feet?

Most of all, remember to love yourself and honor who you are and have been. Find ways to keep joy in your life. Keep your mind and body moving and involved. I know we are not done yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AdvancedOvarianCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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