Survivor Stories / Tributes

Judy Black

Personal Description:

Dedication:

I would like to dedicate my story to my late sister Carol who also had ovarian cancer and passed away in August 2000.

Personal Description:

At age 50 my sister was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer in August of 1998. She had only vague symptoms of slight bloating and slight abdominal discomfort for a few weeks. At the time of her surgery the cancer was in her liver. Three months later I had my regular gyn check up and mentioned my sister’s diagnosis to my doctor. He suggested that I have a transvaginal ultrasound as a baseline for future reference. The ultrasound showed a small cyst on one of my ovaries. My doctor and I decided that it would be prudent to re-check the cyst with another ultrasound in 6 weeks. The next day he called me at home and said that he was probably overreacting, but he had been thinking about my situation and thought it may be best to remove the cyst for a biopsy–”just to be sure it is nothing.” Three days later I awoke from surgery and was told that the pathology showed that the cyst was indeed ovarian cancer. My doctor had requested a gyn oncology surgeon to be on stand-by during my surgery. The cyst was small, but fragile, and it broke open when they tried to remove it. They flushed my abdomen with large amounts of saline to try to remove all of the cancer cells. I was 40 years old with two childern to raise. My husband and I were afraid and surprised at the diagnosis. Several weeks later I began the same chemotherapy treatment that my sister was receiving (Taxol and Carboplatin). Both of us became very sick with the chemo. We were in different cities, but spoke on the phone nearly every day and supported one another through the ordeal. Ultimately my sister passed away in August of 2000. This was so very heartbreaking. To this day I still have survivors’ guilt, even though I know that it is not rational. It is still with me never the less. After I recovered from chemo and after my sister passed away I was tested for the BRCA mutation and was positive. The genetic counselor and genetic physician told me that I had a very high probability of developing breast cancer (85-90% chance) at a fairly young age. I elected to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. It was a difficult decision, but once the decision was made, I never looked back. I am still alive 10 years later with no recurrence. My husband and I feel very grateful to an astute physician who follewed his instincts.

Last updated on: 12/18/2009


Comments:

I am 19 yrs old and about a month ago my mother was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer as well. It too spread to her liver and is also in her lungs. We have never had any sort of cancer in our family and because of this it makes me want to inform more women that they must get checked!!!

Caitlin Noah-Sayers – 12/23/2009

Thank you for your uplifting story. My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2006. She had been experiencing abdominal pain for a few months prior to her diagnosis. She went to her doctor and they thought it was a gallbladder issue but they couldn’t find anything. So, my mom quietly went about her life. Finally, her pain worsened and she was bloated. By the time of her diagnosis, she was stage IV. She had a full hysterectomy and they began chemo while she was still in the hospital. She returned home, responded very well to chemo, and was in remission for two years. About a year ago, she began having blockages. It got to the point where she was afraid to travel or be away from home in case of an episode. So she went in for a scheduled surgery on 10/12/09. The small intestine was so coiled up from scar tissue, they had to remove 3/5 of her small intestine. They found a lot more tumor during that surgery but couldn’t remove it. We came to terms with that and thought she’d just begin a new chemo cocktail. A few days after surgery, she noted horrible back pain. The nurses were even rubbing Ben Gay on her back! Then her vitals began alarming the doctors. They did an emergency surgery on 10/18 and found that some tumor had bored a hole in her colon. She was in septic shock. They put her in the ICU for nine days. It was a roller coaster ride—some days her doctors were very optimistic—white blood cell count great, urine production great, no temp, etc. One morning, she vomited a little and they took her for a CT scan. We learned there was more leakage and there was nothing else that could be done. The hardest day of my life.
So, my dear mom lost her battle on 10/29/09, at the young age of 67. My sister and I will be vigilant in having our ultrasounds and blood work done. The key it seems to me is early detection. We had to learn the hard way. I wish all the women on here the best.

Ann Castro – 01/05/2010

My mother passed away on October 7, 2005 from stage IV ovarian cancer. She was 83. Because of this, I was checked every year with an ultrasound and a CA125. In 2008, I had some very vague symptoms – very slight bloating and constipation. The constipation lingered and in late October 2008, I went to my family doctor. I also complained of some tenderness in my lower left quadrant. She examined me and felt “something.” This was on a Monday, and on Friday I had a transvaginal ultrasound. The tech had been talking to me and then all of a sudden became very quiet. She asked me about any symptoms. I knew better than to ask what she found because as an RN, I knew she couldn’t tell me anything. On the following Monday morning, I got the phone call that you never want to get. It was my doctor, she told me that I a “very large mass” on my right ovary. From there my life changed drastically. To make a long story short. I am surviving stage IIIc. My last chemotherapy treatment was April 15, 2009. I have been told I am a miracle. I love miracles! My advise is to listen to your body, the very most vague symptoms can change your life forever!

Terri Harvey – 02/18/2010

Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry for the loss of your sister. You are a wonderful success story with 10+ years. Best wishes.

Fran – 02/19/2010

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Buy Cialis Buy Cialis – 03/26/2010

Thank you for posting on my wall, I am so delinquent in responding! Your story gives me chills, as I can’t imagine the feeling of having cancer at the same time as your sister. My three sisters have all been healthy but do the transvaginal ultrasounds each year now, too. No fun, but well worth it to be safe. Life is as back to normal for me, though blood tests monthly often cause small heart palpitations. I’ve come to the realization that cancer has actually had a very positive effect in my life. Priorities certainly become much clearer and simple annoyances just don’t matter anymore. I hope you find much continued health. Best wishes to you!

Rhonda Secor – 06/18/2010

Walking in the persecne of giants here. Cool thinking all around!

Loryn Loryn – 06/02/2011