March 2014, I had just returned to my home after a wonderful trip to NYC with my oldest daughter. We did lots of tourist things and walking, and I noticed that I was really tired out from all the walking. Now, I was 63 at the time, but in pretty good shape. I had also been feeling bloated after eating for some months before. No pain, just bloated and tired out, and some indigestion was showing up.
So, I went to see my doctor, who in turn, sent me to see another doctor about the indigestion and also a gyno. Long story short, they didn’t find any ulcers in the examination, and apparently the gyno did see something on my ovaries. I was off to see a gyno surgeon, who did a CT scan. The news came right after. My daughter came with me to my appointment, and we were both blown away by the results. Stage 4 ovarian cancer. How could this be??
They scheduled me right away for a full hysterectomy, and while they were in there, they took out my omentum, both ovaries, uterus, etc. All gone. They even scraped my diaphragm for cells. I was to get six chemo treatments once I healed from surgery, but that wouldn’t happen, as I didn’t heal. I got so ill and became septic. I went into septic shock and almost died twice. My family was told to plan my funeral. I was in a coma for two weeks and had no idea what my family was having to deal with. It was horrible.
I did not know much of what had happened to me, but I was paralyzed from neck to toes and had a trac inserted. My incision had split open, and because my body was so septic and swollen, they couldn’t put me together. I have a huge abdominal hernia now. I had to learn how to breathe on my own, swallow, eat, move, sit up, stand up, walk, etc. I do have ongoing nerve damage from sepsis, which makes life a challenge at times. It was a long three month stay in hospital. If it wasn’t for my amazing husband, my daughters, my sisters, friends, and physicians supporting and helping me stay positive, I really don’t think I could have done it. In fact, at that time, I didn’t even want to think about cancer. I just wanted my life back.
Because I wasn’t able to have chemo right after my first surgery, we found the cancer showed up again in 2015. A year after all that. It had moved to the lining of my liver and also had seedlings in my abdomen. Ugh! So, chemo it was. I went through six severe five and a half hour chemo sessions, which caused extreme illness, made me tired beyond words, and caused me to lose all my hair. I finished in December 2015. My CA125 level was down to 38. Yeah! We all celebrated New Year’s with a big thank you for my life.
Well, recently my level has risen again to 502. Oh boy. Now I am facing weekly chemo, but this chemo is easier on me. No vomiting this time, and I am hoping to hang on to the short hair that grew back. My hair used to be straight. Now I am sprouting curls. My oncologist in my home area was kind enough to have my treatment changed to a hospital near to my cottage, so I can get my treatments done there. I love our cottage on the lake, and my husband and doggies are so happy there too. It’s the best place for me to recover.
We did ask some difficult questions of the doctors this time. Am I just going through the motions with this treatment? Am I going to get through this? She told us that because I am a healthy 65-year-old with a positive attitude and seem to accept chemo well, I could live with this a long time. Apparently many people do, with chemo on occasion. Perhaps like a chronic condition. Hmmmmm.
Well, I made it this far, so why not continue? Can’t say I don’t get discouraged, tired out, and have bad days, but there are also good days, and most times I am up for the challenge. I think it’s so important to congregate a support system in order to call on them whenever needed. This group is also a lifeline for me. Nothing like hearing from those who KNOW!!
Here’s to fighting the good fight, and I send positive thoughts and love to my fellow cancer survivors! You are amazing!!
P.S. I am constantly telling women to pay attention to that bloated feeling and indigestion. Ovarian cancer certainly knows how to hide. We need to be more aware and proactive!
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.