My Life Changed After Ovarian Cancer > November 2005 Archives
November 28, 2005
Diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer
My life changed on January 6, 2005 when at the age of 49, I was diagnosed with stage IIIc ovarian cancer. I awoke from surgery staring at my surgeon's masked face with his steel blue eyes peering at me. Prior to the operation, I was certain it was simply some benign growth and that I would be back "on top of my game" in a few short weeks. Imagine my shock when I heard that horrific word "cancer." The doctor said he was able to remove 90% of the cancer - shock number two! I knew it was bad. Ovarian cancer is deadly, that I knew. I considered myself an intelligent woman who stays informed about health issues. I was diligent about my own health care. I never missed my annual gynecologic exam and mammogram. But I didn’t know the symptoms for ovarian cancer. If I had, I would have seen a doctor earlier when it may have been the difference between stage I where the five year survival rate is 90% verses what I am facing now for stage III of somewhere around 20%. I live knowing these statistics but I am confident that I will beat it. I am strong and I will fight hard because I have so much to live for. I want to watch my five beautiful daughters (ages 26, 23, 21, 19 and 17) flourish in their careers, finish college, marry and have children. I want to watch my future grandchildren grow. I want to grow old with my loving and supportive husband. I want to continue to enjoy gardening with my mom, shop, bake and laugh with my sisters, enjoy time with my friends and laugh until my face hurts. I am very blessed to be surrounded with so much love. So fight I will, but while I am here I have been enjoying every single thing life has to offer. I spend my time making memories with my family and friends. It may sound cliché but every day I wake up is a bonus and for that I am thankful. It's amazing how cancer does that for us.
November 30, 2005
Ovarian Cancer Treatment: Taxol, Carboplatin and Stem Cell Transplant
A month after surgery, I started the standard first-line therapy of Taxol and Carboplatin. After the standard 6 rounds I was considered to be in clinical remission – no evidence of disease as determined by the current standard methods of detection using a combination CT/PET and CA 125. My doctor suggested two more rounds and then a possible maintenance program of Taxol for 6 more months. Aside from the hair loss, I had few side effects so I seriously considered it. But after doing much research, I opted for a stem cell transplant. There are a couple of hospitals who have done it successfully for ovarian cancer patients. It's a risky treatment but I was willing to take that risk if it worked. I visited with a nationally known doctor for the next step. Although I was in remission, a second look surgery was required before I could qualify for the program. I had the surgery on October 10, 2005 and unfortunately several macroscopic lesions were found. I was no longer eligible for the program that I hoped would save my life or at the very least extend it. But, the doctor advised me that after completing 12 rounds of Taxol (85mg weekly) she would reassess me for the program. As of today, I have finished 6 rounds (halfway there) but my CA 125 has gone up beyond the normal range (78 based on a scale of >35 normal). They may change the treatment if the next CA 125 test is not lower. I continue to keep my fingers crossed and pray everyday that my CA 125 count comes down.