KIMBERLY: 2006, AGE 23   

Hi, my name is Kimberly. I am 24 years old. I was diagnosed with a CA125 Blood test and further exams at the age of 23 with stage III B ovarian cancer. WOW, 23 years old, some people say. Yes, 23. I have my whole life ahead of me. And I married, had no children, just learning how to live life, and BAM. I went to my doctor because I was having awful stomach cramps. So my doctor says, Kimberly, let’s examine you and see what’s up. So I got a pap and HPV Smear Test, and he sent me for an ultrasound. When I visit my parents, my mom reassures me everything is OK, suggesting I might have a gas build-up.

My mom accompanies me to the doctor’s office for the ultrasound. After about 30 minutes of pushing on my stomach, I was informed by the nurse that we were finished and that another HPV Nurse would provide further instructions for a Swab Kit test. While in the waiting room, I receive word that my doctor wishes to see me immediately. Genuine fear grips me, and my mom accompanies me in the room to wait. Dr. Lucks comes in and says Kimberly, if you can get your husband home, you need to (my husband is in Iraq). So I started to freak out and ask myself what could be so bad that my doctor would tell me this.

Like I said before, BAM is the word that would change my life forever.

You have a huge mass in your abdomen, and we can’t tell what it is. I’m sorry. What was that? My ears seemed to switch off. He informed me that he had already prepared paperwork instructing me to go to the emergency room the following morning for admission. HUH? While in the hospital, the medical team would perform several tests, and they would prepare me for exploratory surgery on my abdomen.

OK, I heard that part. The first thing to come out of my mouth was, “Will I be able to have kids?”. Dr Lucks says, “I’m not sure; we will know more once an OBGYN surgeon is in there and can see what’s going on.” This man, whom I’ve been seeing for a very long time since I was young, seemed deeply pained to deliver this news to me as if a knife had been stabbed in his heart. Now, how do I tell my husband?

Well, he is over in a dangerous country and has to worry about his soldiers and his life. I wouldn’t be able to tell him what was going on with my HPV DNA test, so my dad, the brave man he is, stepped up to the plate. Steven knew that I was having pains and knew I was going to the doctor, so we knew he was going to call. I knew I couldn’t stay home alone that night, so I forwarded my phone to my parent’s house.

The phone rings; it’s the call we were all dreading.

My dad starts telling my husband what’s happening as I sit in the chair next to him. My husband broke down; I started to cry again because I knew there was no way he was going to be able to handle being over there and me, his wife of a year, about to have surgery to find out the worst. After undergoing numerous tests and receiving several injections, I underwent surgery the day after being admitted to the hospital, in short. At this point, I had gone without food for two days.

The OBGYN oncologist informed my family about my antigen results for CA125. And while I was under the influence of morphine, it was ovarian organ cancer. He mentioned having more information once the HPV DNA Test and pathology reports were back. After my sister contacted the Red Cross to relay a message to my husband, he called me, but I was too disoriented to respond. He liaised with his commanding officers, who recommended acquiring written letters outlining his precise condition. This arose due to the inconsistency between the nurse’s report to the Red Cross, stating the stable condition, and the reality.

Still, I was watched every hour because my vitals were bad.

I was on the operating table for 12 hours and lost a huge amount of blood. The Red Cross personnel forwarded the message to officers in Iraq, stating that I was stable and would be out in 2 days. That was never told to them, and I didn’t even tell them about my HPV Variant test result. Five days later, I got out. So, my husband’s direct supervisor told him there was no way he was coming home on emergency leave.

Well, 3 letters later and 2 weeks after my surgery, my husband flew home on emergency surgery and was able to help me through the awful recovery from abdominal surgery. The oncologist who took over my case was a bit of a jerk, and his nurse wasn’t any better. Because I was 23, the youngest they had ever seen, they would use me as a case study. I guess this meant to them not doing anything about cancer that the doctor left in me.

After 5 weeks of waiting for my pathology report

I kept receiving messages indicating we hadn’t received the CA125 results, so I sought a different doctor in Atlanta. She saw me, saw my case, and took it to the tumour board in 2 weeks. I was having chemo and was a lot more comfortable with her. In September, after 4 chemo treatments, my blood counts were awesome. So, she said that it was time to look at doing a full hysterectomy.

WOW, I knew that was coming, but it hit me hard anyway. My husband got to stay home from Iraq, so I was glad he would be there for me this time. So, I had my full hysterectomy. We’ve lost any chance of having a child, but the bright side is that I’m still here! And to my family and my husband, that means more. I had 3 more chemo treatments, including the study of chemo directly in the abdomen and also CA125 Level tests each week. And here it is exactly a year since my HPV Lab Test diagnosis, and I am cancer-free and living life. I have to have tests every 2 months for blood count. I have my first PET scan in January and another one in June.

That is my story. Kim is now 24 yrs. Old My heart is still with you, Dora, who passed away in January 2006 from ovarian level cancer.