Waiting for Signs of Improvement
Last updated: March 2023
Four years ago, I learned that my life was about to change. Like many others, I discovered I had advanced ovarian cancer with a life expectancy of about 4 years. I remember feeling stunned and saddened as I knew I had more living to do.
I turned all my energy into healing. First, I faced the required surgical interventions, chemotherapy treatments, and alternatives.
Most important of all, cancer accelerated my need to assess life carefully and develop a plan to enhance purpose and meaning.
I had 2 surgeries. First - a hernia repair made it clear that my left ovary had broken off and traveled through my abdomen. It was enveloped in cancer and spread malignant cells throughout my abdominal cavity.
I was immediately closed and rescheduled with the addition of another surgeon, a gynecological cancer specialist. Under the careful eyes and hands of 2 trusted surgeons, every piece of evidence of cancer was removed and sent to pathology for further evaluation.
Chemotherapy is both a savior and a foe. Each round of chemo offers a series of responses. I am forever hoping to eradicate or stall cancer growth.
Each time I undergo this grueling experience, there is always hope it will lead to the end of my cancer.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for me. Rather quickly, I realized: Chemotherapy, at best, buys me time.
The reality is a personal experience
The image of the person on chemotherapy is not a pretty one. For example, losing hair and having difficulty regulating body temperature are minor issues.
In addition, I developed neuropathy in my hands and feet. Mobility being compromised, I have had to befriend a cane and a walker. I'm not sure why I feel this way, but the image of me stumbling around with either is painful and robs me of my dignity.
To make matters worse, losing control over everyday life can be overwhelming. I initially believed I had no power but to follow whatever regimen.
However, I learned this is not the case. After reporting severe gastrointestinal responses and fatigue, I asked to end the last round of chemo and turn to maintenance with Avastin.
A sad note
In reality, none of us on my treatment team believes with certainty that chemo will extend my life. Cancer markers of CA125 are unreliable for me. Even after several months of chemotherapy, they remain as high as 79.
PET Scans alert us to changes in tumor size and location. However, all the "kings horses and all the king's men" cannot end my cancer experience.
I believe it is my responsibility to make my life worth living. Therefore, it is no longer helpful to wait for signs of improvement.
- Let's all capture every moment as you would devour a rich piece of cake covered in chocolate ganache.
- Reach the end by adding to the beauty of life and touching the hearts of others who have lost touch.
- Surround yourself with loving people and be honest, even when it isn't what others may want to hear.
- Touch hearts and mend wrongs while encouraging others to invest time in themselves.
I leave you with loving thoughts and prayers for a meaningful life.
Do you have things that helped you cope through your ovarian cancer journey?