June 28, 2012: Dr. says that yes I have cancer it is considered Stage IV Ovarian. Oh, and my CA-125 is 89, normal is 35 and under. He went over all the life expectanty stuff that my husband was asking and then we got down to treatment. He said we could do nothing and see what happens or we could start treatment. I said I already knew what I was going to do and my husband said he thought we should discuss it first, like there is anything to discusss. I know he wanted to be in on the decision making, but my mind was already made up and it was my decision to make. That may seem mean, but I did not want to wait another minute. Now we need the por-a-cath. I did not go with one the first time, but I will never go without one ever again. They make is so much easier. So back to the thoracic surgeon we go, oh but we have a problem, my thoracic surgeon is going to be out of town on Monday so he can't do my surgery, oh well we have someone new to do it. So off I go to see the surgeon to get info I need. While walking down the room to see the new dr, I see my surgeon and tell him I am mad at him because he is going to be out of town on Monday and can't do my surgery like he promised me but he said he could do it tomorrow Friday. Happy! Happy! You know how it is when you find a dr. you like even if you have only seen him 1 time before.
So she recovered from the surgery and we went to a renown specialist who scanned her and saw another possible cyst that they might've missed and a fatty liver- which sounded as though it could be very life threatening. "Great, more surgery" my mother said. 3 weeks later they operated on my mother again. The doctor came out and my oldest brother asked "So Doc, what stage are we thinking?" hoping for a Stage II or Early Stage III. He said "Honestly, the lymph nodes tested negative for cancer and we found no cancer in the fluid. You mom seems to be a STAGE IC." Tears of joy started pouring down our faces. Her odds from a stage III or IV to stage IC have increased significantly. The cyst he saw ended up being scar tissue and her fatty liver was just that, fatty, but not cancerous! She is now on her 3rd treatment of chemo (doctor said it is only being given to her as a preventative) of 6 and is taking it like a champ. She has gone out and about almost every day of her treatment minus 3 or 4 due to her body aching. She is so positive and knows that she has a long life ahead of her. Me, my father, and my two brothers are behind her all the way. She plans on going back to school this coming January and being the students' favorite teacher once again. She said the hardest part about the whole process is not being with her students and not being able to take care of her family. For those with cancer, there comes a time where you may need to be cared for- let your family help. Take it easy, and stay positive! No matter what the percentage of beating that stage of cancer is, there is always someone who wins when the odds are against them. God bless.
N.E.D! It's been more than 4 years since my fight with metastatic stage IV ovarian cancer. Just saw my ongologist 2 months ago and my CA-125 was 5. Way back in 2006 it was 4000. I'm enjoying being with my friends and family, working, and doing the things that make me happy. I thank God for my friends and family, the oncology nurses and my gynecologic oncologist. The special things I do to try and keep my health: I try and eat right at least half of the time. I try to eat all those foods they say prevent cancer. I take the herbs and vitamins they say help fight and prevent cancer like ginger, CoQ10, green tea & capsaicin. I work hard to keep my stress level down. I took a workshop at the local hospice on preparing for the end of life. Everyone thought that was so weird, but it calmed me down tremendously. I plan on living for a long time, but if this disease returns I want to fight when it's good to fight, and let go when it's time to let go. Most importantly I keep my medical appointments, listen to the advise of my doctors and always let them know what I am doing and taking. My message to others: Enjoy each day as if it was your last. This life is a journey that eventually ends for all of us. Today, good things are all around. Keep up the good fight.
The end of life journey for my mother. Mom was healthy all her life (no colds, ate healthy, dressed appropriately in various seasons to not get sick, etc.) On Jan 17th, the nightmare began when I took mom to ER because of breathing problems. After her admission to the ER I was told that it "might be ovarian and breast cancer". WOW, I could not believe what I was told. Mom also had showed the ER docs a mass (light green color that had grown outside her belly button/on her stomach - exposed). This was the mass - mom did not share this with me but daughter knows she is very sick and dying. The ER docs ask me if I had seen this (and i had not); Mom even told the onocologists that "the secret" is out - and now moving forward, Mom was admitted to the hospital at Vanderbilt University-Nashville and she stayed there for 10 days; when released, she went home. On the 7th day at home, one morning, Mom had been up all night and told me later that she had a pain in her left leg like her leg was turning/twisting in knots and she immediately had me taken her to the ER room. Again she was admitted to hospital for several days (cancer had spreaded a lot); we met with oncologists team and her pcp and the oncologists wanted to start chemo. Before we could begin first round of chemo, Mom started throwing up blood and blood came out of her urine and stool (she had to be admitted to intensive care). I never forget, it was my birthday, Feb 14th, and when I arrived to visit her, she acknowledged my birthday and wished me happy birthday. During the entire cancer process, mom was alert but mom did not eat one bit of food from day one until she died. Mom's memory also started to go; when I got all the medical bills in the end, I found out they had ran some serious tests on my mother; they only told me the basics; cancer, prognosis and that was all. Mom just would not eat; all mom wanted was water, ice and that was all during the entire 2-month process. Mom was in and out of nursing homes because it was only me and my mom at home. See mom moved in with me because prior to the cancer she had a stroke 1 -1/2 years ago. When Mom had the stroke, the same hospital Vanderbilt ran all types of tests and I now wonder why wasn't this cancer detected then? After her stroke, the docs told her she had recovered very well and was doing good. My mother, a fighter, had ask help to get back on her feet with Dad's death 10 years ago of skin cancer, so it was just my Mom and I. Anyway, to get to the final part of this story, the oncologists and her pcp recommended a nursing home so someone could be with mom 24/7. The prognosis in the end was with chemo 1 to 1/2 years and without chemo 6 months or less. We did get one round of chemo in but that was all. The pcp doctor told me "everytime we fix something on your Mom, somethings else breaks." The pcp doc kept me well informed of Mom's condition everyday until the end. The hospital removed lots of fluid from Mom's body twice (the fluid removed filled 2 large bottles, she told me it really hurt). But Mom was doing anything to live. My mother and I know she wanted to live because she told me one day, no one wants to die. Mom's feet swelled very badly but her breathing and spirits were good until she went into the last 2 nursing homes. When I had the final friday talk with Mom and her pcp, we were told, there was nothing else they could do and recommended hospices. In my mind, I knew it was a matter of time to spend with mom. When she arrived at her final nursing home, a lady told me to spend as much time with my Mom as I could. Mom had a strange request the day before she died. She asked I bring her a bell, a back scratcher, and a yellow sheet/table cloth (so she would not get anything dirty). Also on the day before she died, I went to see her and she kept staring at a mirror to her left and then staring down the hall to the right. I asked her if she was ok and she said, "Yes, I am ok". The next day, Mom passed away in her sleep at 71. She died at 7:25 am. The death journey lasted approximately 2 months. Looking back from all of this, I remember one thing that could have "possibly" prevented all of this. Back in 1976, when mom went to her pcp, they told her she had a small tumor. Nothing was ever said or done after she was told this. Mom also told me that she thought because she had a large stomach and always wore big clothes that she just thought she had a big gut. Mom said to me she always thought she was a very healthy person. Ii had to deal with losing my mother all by myself. I had her cremated because I wanted to kill the cancer once and for all because the cancer took my mother quickly and swiftly. To end my story, I want to say anyone diagnosed with ovarian / breast cancer, this is a death sentence. It is a quick and swift death sentence. Mom was bedridden during the entire process and had to have a decatheter to use the bathroom. She tried to be strong but the cancer did not allow my mother to be strong. All mom kept telling me was "I am very tired". Mom was so much of a fighter that several months before she was diagnosed, she continued to go to the NFL Titan football games; she told me she was tired and went but never complained to me about her health. Mom told me she did not want me to worrry. That was Mom. Ovarian cancer is a silent killer; one can be healthy as a horse, have no health ailments and overnight get diagnosed and die quickly. I miss my mother so very much; I love her but I know that I will see my mother again one day.
The following morning the Hospice nurse arrived and told us they had a bed for her. I felt relief but also felt bad. My mom would be leaving her home for the last time. A week before I had told her that I dreaded that moment when she would leave for the last time. She told me that death and life are a series of steps or notches. And told me that when she left the house for the last time not to think of it anymore than that....a notch or a natural step in life. When the ambulance drivers were taking her out that last day she actually grabbed my hand and opened her eyes and in her stupor said, "It is only another notch." She was referring to the conversation we had a week ago...Imagine her-comforting me at such moment. Once she was at the Hospice they took her off the patch and put her on morphine instead her mind cleared. She stopped talking that much and every once in a while could speak or answer questions. She told me that her loved ones where there and trying to take her. She was afraid to go with them. She did not want to leave us. I went down a list of deceased relatives and friends and most of them where in the room. She had told me that her father was in the room and when she tried to talk to her he told her he was there to keep an eye on her and take her to heaven when it was time. In the mean time she was not to talk to him but to us. Our priest came down and we prayed with her at her bed. She tried to cross herself and seemed to relax. He comforted her and told her to go with them if they wanted her to go. After this it was difficult to understand what she was saying. We sat there, kept each other company and held her hand. It was a wonderful relief to have the staff to care for her and us. The night before she died everyone left one by one to get home, get the kids to bed and get some sleep. I couldn't leave, I wanted to share every last minute with her even if she was out of it. I sat there in the dark holding her hand and one of the patients in the room called me over. She said, "What would your mother tell you right now?" I said, "she would tell me to go home, get some sleep and come back in the morning." She told me to listen to my mother. I was exhausted. This patient told me she would watch over her for me. What an angel. I reluctantly left and was back in the morning. It was so sunny outside. This Hospice is on the Long Island Sound. I looked out at the water in her room and saw boats going by, waves hitting the shore and sea gulls flying about. It was a beautiful day to die. My mom was awake and alert. I described what it looked like today. I smiled at her and told her that I loved her. She just stared at me. The nurse came in to clean her up...I went next door to the lounge and almost immediately she came flying in telling me to hurry up...that she was going now. I flew back into her room. Her eyes were closed but she clutched my hand when I held it. Her color got very dark reddish-grey and then the color left her face at the same moment she let go of my hand. I know this sounds corny but I looked up at the beautiful sky and in my minds eye saw her-young, beautiful, happy and pain-free in the sky outside her window. When I looked back down at her face she was just a shell. The beautiful part that was my mother was released. There was no sadness in seeing her like that. She was out of pain. And I was privileged to be there for all of it....from the day she was diagnosed to the day she went to heaven. Like so many people, I wish I hadn't needed to work and could have been with her the entire two years but she laughed and said, "You must think highly of yourself to think I would want to be with you that much!" It has been almost five months now and I have to tell you that I learned more about how to live from her death than anything else. You see, my mother did not let cancer rob her of her life. She said that she lived with cancer-not in spite of it. She took her treatments and followed the nurse's and doctor's advise. She called cancer her blessing and really enjoyed what time she had left. She didn't let her illness spoil any moment that was left-cancer did not win and that has truly been a gift to us. My mom was a retired therapeutic recreation director in a nursing home. She said that she learned about life and how to die from some of the residents there. One in particular taught her a poem about death: 2b1af7f3a8