My Cancer Story
In January of 2015, I started experiencing pain in my lower right abdomen. I thought I was having trouble with my appendix, but my doctor and the urgent care doctor were convinced my pain was caused by constipation and gas. Fortunately, my husband did some research and found that there was a type of appendicitis that did not present with a fever or vomiting. Armed with that information, I went to the doctor again and truly pushed her into sending me for a CT scan. 4 days later, I had the scan...and just 2 hours after that I received the dreaded phone call, letting me know I had an 18.5 cm growth on my right ovary and that it was most likely cancer.
After a night of research and discussion with family, I decided to take my sister's advice and drive directly to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona (after picking up the CT scan results). Upon arrival, I went directly to the ER and let them know of the CT scan and that the pain was getting worse. They immediately did a whole diagnostic workup on me, including ultrasounds and blood tests. The ER doctor then came in to let me know that my primary care doctor was most likely right and this was cancer. He also let me know that he had called one of the Mayo's gynecological oncologists (Dr. Kristina Butler) at home to arrange for an appointment for me the following day.
The next 5 days were a whirlwind of prep for major surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding items that were also cancerous. In totality, the following were removed during surgery: Both ovaries and fallopian tubes, uterus, appendix, spleen, part of the bladder, part of the diaphragm, omentum, and all the lymph nodes in the pelvic and para-aortic area. At the conclusion of the surgery, my left arm became cold and blue, requiring another surgery -- a fasciotomy for the forearm and hand releases. This secondary surgery also did a number on my kidneys, causing renal failure that lasted 6 weeks.
My first dose of chemo was given at the Mayo Clinic on March 25th and arrangements were made to transfer me to UC Irvine for the remainder of the chemo treatments. I received a total of six rounds of IV chemotherapy, four rounds of IP (aka IntraPeritoneal or Abdominal) chemotherapy and four surgeries (the two mentioned above plus a replacement IP port and the ileostomy reversal, which also included a hernia repair) before I was finally told I was cancer free on August 12, 2015!
Unfortunately, the cancer returned in April of 2016 on my liver and the decision was made to start me back on chemotherapy at UC Irvine, but this time taking two new drugs. I received 5 rounds of that cocktail before developing another hernia that required surgery. The chemo was placed on hold while I had that surgery at the Mayo Clinic in November of 2016. Then I had two more rounds of that chemo before blood tests revealed that the cancer had stopped responding and started growing again. I made the decision to have another surgery at the Mayo Clinic to remove the cancer off of my liver. That was done in February of 2017. Following that surgery, more chemo, but this time an even different cocktail. I finished the 6rounds that chemo at the end of July of 2017. The decision was then made to start me on a daily maintenance chemotherapy pill. Due to some timing issues with testing and insurance approval, I had to get one more dose of chemo in September of 2017.
In August of 2018, I was told that I needed to traverse another bump in the road of life, as the cancer has returned yet again to my liver and abdominal wall. I was able to stave off chemotherapy until April 2019 with a hormone therapy regiment. Sadly its success did not last, so chemotherapy will begin again.
Why I’m Fundraising/Participating in Relay For Life
While I got treatment at The Mayo Clinic in Arizona, I was fortunate to be able to stay in a Casita at the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge. The funding for such a wonderful place comes from the Relay for Life events across the nation. Currently, there are no such places in California, but I am making it my goal to help them build one.
I know there are a lot of worthy causes to support, but I think participating in an event that helps save lives from cancer and aids those who are afflicted by the awful disease is about as worthy as it gets.
So, pretty please join my team or make a donation in support of my efforts. Thank you!
Together, we WILL finish the fight!