To future generations with much love, I promise to do everything I can to fight this disease in the hope that you will not have to experience the devastation of ovarian cancer.
In June 2003, I was told I had a benign cyst the size of a grapefruit on one of my ovaries. My CA-125 blood test was normal and numerous ultrasounds were inconclusive. My ob/gyn decided to perform minimally invasive laparascopic surgery to remove the “cyst.” I was supposed to go home after the outpatient surgery and return to work in a day.
What actually happened is that my ob/gyn burst the tumor and spread it throughout my abdomen. It was a rare cancer called choriocarcinoma — the same type of cancer Lance Armstrong had in his testicles. It was also aggressive, but my ob/gyn didn’t know that so he told me it was highly treatable (90 percent cure rate) and that I would be fine even if I didn’t get treatment of any kind.
Two weeks after that surgery, I was in a lot of pain. I could feel the cancer growing inside me and I was wearing maternity clothes because my abdomen was so distended. I called my ob/gyn and pleaded to get into a gyn/onc as soon as possible. He told me I was just anxious because I had cancer and that he would prescribe an anti-anxiety drug for me. I begged him to get me into the gyn/onc but he said I could wait three weeks more.
When I finally saw the gyn/onc, I had 10 times as much cancer as I had originally. It had spread into my colon and throughout my abdomen, even landing on my heart. I was taken into a second surgery right away and ended up in the ICU afterward.
The cancer roared back after the second surgery and I soon underwent chemo. I was so weak and compromised by the extent of the cancer and the two surgeries in a row that I had to be hospitalized for chemo.
On round three of four, my kidneys failed and I went into shock (sepsis times two). I nearly died that day but the nurses were able to get my blood pressure to stabilize.
I spent two months in the hospital in the fall of 2003, getting out just before Thanksgiving. I was a weak 90 pounds at five feet seven when treatment ended and I couldn’t eat.
I went sent home with an IV and lots of medications. One of the meds, Reglan, eventually shut down my ability to swallow and to walk.
Though I went into remission in the Spring of 2004, it has been a long journey back to health. I have been told the cancer came back three times and each time my blood tests (the tumor marker Beta HCG) has returned to normal levels after use of a birth control pill.
I am disabled, unable to work as a journalist or Web developer. One of my chemo drugs, Cisplatin, caused severe nerve damage in my feet and legs. The burning pain is still there but much better than in the early years when I had to take heavy-duty pain meds to cope.
I have brain damage, which is visible to my docs by scan. I have memory problems, processing problems, directional difficulties and problems controlling my emotions at times. I have hearing loss and ringing in my ears. I fall a lot because I have imbalance issues either related to the brain damage or nerve damage in my feet and legs.
I have not been able to return to work full-time since I was first diagnosed. My children had to go live with their dad when I was in treatment and they were still in high school.
My immune system is so compromised that when I become sick, it is usually severe. I have been countless hours in the ER and as an inpatient over these six years. Sometimes it is colon related (my colon was resectioned in two places) and sometimes it relates to another organ system.
I am grateful to be alive. I now live in beautiful Laguna Beach, Calif. and though I no longer have a healthy income, I enjoy the beauty of nature here. I kayak on the ocean and try to live a healthy and positive lifestyle.
My children are now in their 20s and doing well. I am a grandmother to Isabelle, 3, and Ava, 3 months. Little Luke is coming in January.
I have a blog, www.unemployedreporter.com, where I continue to write about my experiences and cancer and other topics. I am dedicated to raising funds for ovarian cancer research and to that end I am planning a fundraiser at our local harbor.
So far, the score is four for me and zero for ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer only scores if I die, but even then it will never kill my spirit. Or yours.
Last updated on: 10/12/2009
Your post brought sobbing tears when I read it. I can only relate to what you went through as I watched and stood by my 24yr old daughter Jessica who had ovarian small cell carcinoma 3c hypercalcemic type cancer. We were told there was no known cure and survival was grim, 4 months later my sweet Jessica was gone but she never gave up the fight not even on her last day.
With all the strength she had she tried to sit up to get dressed. I asked her “sweetie, what are you doing?” She said “I’m not finished here yet I have to go tell people about ovarian cancer”.
She was a fighter the whole time even when the Dr’s kept telling her otherwise. She insisted on ANY kind of chemo to help fight it. We made 100’s of calls all over the country and always got the same answer. “were sorry there is no known treatment for that type of cancer”.
In the end the chemo really only weakened her to the point we had to say no more. She couldn’t function even simple tasks as watching TV were difficult.
It was heartbreaking to see a once 24 yr old vibrant,active young college Jr who’s heart was so giving and compassionate for others have to go through this.
Even while she was going through all the grueling tests,chemo’s,ct’s and countless blood work etc she always apologized to the nurses who cared for her that she was so “needy” we all reassured her that wasn’t the case and we were ALL there for her care.
I wish you the best in your continued fight and will keep you in my prayers that God lift you and keep you strong so you can be a testimony for others who are fighting the same battle. Maybe you are survivor who is to go and spread the word to others about this nasty monster cancer…
I don’t know what your religious views are and I don’t mean to offend in any way. Jessica was a Christian and prayed several times daily while she still could focus that God would heal her so she could teach others of this cancer and tell others of Jesus but that was not his plan and although in MY selfish thoughts I became angry because he didn’t heal her in the way “I” would have wanted, I know she is in the loving arms of the Lord and is now 100% cured.
It doesn’t take the pain of losing her away and probably never will but I have to have faith. I know I will see her again someday.
Mark 5:26, “She had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.” She had tried all the medicine and all the remedies the world had to offer . . . none of them had healed her. And having heard about Jesus and his ability to heal others, she believed in the power of being near to him, of touching him and feeling him presence. So she made her way through the crowd believing in faith, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well” (vs. 28). I’m sure she had to work very hard to reach him, pushing her way through the crowd and stretching her arm as far as it possibly could reach just to make the distance. And believing in faith that she would be healed from her disease, she grabbed his garment. Knowing that healing power had gone out from him, Jesus stopped dead in his tracks and asked, “Who touch my garments” (vs. 30). The disciples thought he was crazy for asking the question, as a sea of faces surrounded them. “Who touched me,” he asked a second time (vs. 31). The woman, shaking with fear, approached Jesus and fell to his feet. “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (vs. 34).
Mary Marcellino – 10/22/2009
I just read your comment and was so touched by your story. How very difficult for you to lose your young daughter to ovarian cancer. As a mom of a 24-year-old, I can assure you I would rather go through this hellish treatment than to watch my daughter go through it. I believe your daughter is healed too. Still, that doesn’t help your broken heart. My prayers are with you and your family. I am a Christian as well and very much enjoyed reading the scripture at the end of your message. Perhaps it is you who are called to tell your daughter’s story — in her memory. Thank you for your prayers. God bless you.
Sharon Fox-Stock – 12/11/2009
Thank you for telling your story. I am so glad I read it. I have a cyst on my right ovary and my CA125 was negative. I will go for surgery next week to remove my ovary. I didnt want to take any chances. Your story helped me mak up my mind!! Thank you so much
Cindy Powell – 12/16/2009
Thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration. I also had ovaraian cancer and this month am a ten year survivor. May God’s blessings be upon you and in all the days to come.
Judy Black – 12/18/2009
The pargaon of understanding these issues is right here!
Debrah Debrah – 10/04/2011
I am sorry you are no longer with us Sharon, Love your sister….xoxo
Laura Simpson – 12/09/2011
I am also sorry you lost your battle… however… Heaven gained an Angel… I don’t understand how we can put a man on the moon yet cannot find a cure for this UGLY disease… I lost my husband to lung cancer… it is a hard battle to fight… but we WILL see you again…….!!! Xoxo
Jami Howell-Jerry – 12/09/2011
This is what we need – an ingsiht to make everyone think
Kert Kert – 01/24/2012
I don’t know but I thhogut I’d just give some food-for-thhogut. I remember reading about the actor Dirk Benedict using a macrobiotic diet to eliminate some tumor (don’t know the details and whether it’s similar to your mom’s in any way). I also remember watching or reading something where mental imagery was being used with children to stall the growth of cancer. I’d use google.com to search for this and other stuff. Maybe look into other stuff that can’t hurt: e.g. holistic techniques, yoga, acupuncture, maybe even search for neurofeedback techniques? As long as something works (and doesn’t conflict with or divert you from researching things that may really be beneficial, why not?). Maybe check out holisticonline.com? And maybe look for any drugs that are being developed? For example, I’m doing a clinically-proven breathing technique ( resonant breathing’) for depression and panic disorder (researcher at robert wood johnson hospital in NJ has done the studies on it); maybe look for breathing techniques in yoga and other areas for cancer? Maybe use this in combination with other things mental imagery, diet changes, exercise, the other stuff you mentioned, etc.?Just thhoguts that pop out I’d do a bunch of research using google. Email/call people if needed. Go onto online forums (e.g. google.groups, yahoo.groups) and get info. For example, I’m going to go to a hypnotherapist for the panic disorder stuff; I did a bunch of research by sending emails and calling a number of hypnotherapists to make sure I was getting someone who was good and not some snake-oil salesman. I’m also looking into acupuncture as well (for help w/ allergies and panic) and I did the same thing sent emails and phoned people with a bunch of questions (# of treatments, have they been successful treating what I have, etc.). I was able to get a good idea of who seemed good. And I’m using these things in combination with other stuff (therapy, diet, exercise and even medication). Sorry if this just sounds overwhelming or all over the place’ disregard if it does
Himanshu Himanshu – 02/28/2012