Story by Fabiana

The story of my HPV and CA125 Test illness begins on a Saturday in October 2007. I had already planned the day: I would be the beautician in the morning and shop in the afternoon. And I was riding my scooter, speeding through traffic, when, halfway through my journey, I felt a pang in my lower abdomen that took my breath away. I slowed and thought, “The jeans must be too tight.”

At a traffic light, I untie it at the waist; it seems to be going a little better. I take a deep breath and arrive at my destination. We have to wait, but in the waiting room, I start to sweat; I feel the blood pressure lowering, and the excruciating pain returns. Someone notices that I’m not well, and I lie on the massage table. After half an hour, I recover. With my usual spirit of independence, I return to the scooter and go home. And decided tomorrow to get an HPV test, too.

I know how to listen to myself, and if something is wrong, the pain spreads. I involved my friend Renata, who called her doctor’s uncle: she suggested injections of a painkiller and advised me to contact my CA125 doctor for more tests if the pain didn’t go away after a couple of hours. At seven in the evening, the pain stuns me. I decided to go to the emergency room of the Niguarda Hospital, which is closest to home. Code red. Painkiller in vein, blood tests and x-ray. At midnight, the doctor on call explained that the tests showed nothing and that he could discharge me if I felt up to it. But I’m not well at all.

The Diagnosis Process

The CA125 pain persists, dull and continuous. They decide to do an ultrasound. The expression of the doctor carrying out the exam reveals that something is wrong. He consults a surgeon: I have fluid in my abdomen that needs aspiration with a needle. When the HPV doctor extracts the needle, his face is tense: the liquid is mixed with blood.

Before you tell me anything, I think of a CA125 tumour. He suspects a bleeding, but he’s not so sure. He decided to operate immediately and asked me to notify my family. The word family is painful; I don’t know who to call. My brother Angelo left us two months earlier. An absurd drop in blood pressure at night, a fatal fall in the bathroom. I don’t have time to reflect. I call Renata and Paola, the caregiver who lives with my father, so as not to wake him up in the middle of the night. Then, there was the electrocardiogram, the cold of the operating room, the anaesthesia, and the forced sleep.

Next Morning

I wake up in the morning with a big headache and nausea. I’m confused. I still don’t know what happened to me with HPV for years. My father has a heartbroken expression, but I can’t think clearly with the anaesthesia still in circulation. I got through the first day, and the surgeon, with difficulty, explained to me that they had removed my right ovary, to which a 10-centimetre cyst had adhered. The tests revealed that the CA125 cyst had twisted on itself and broken, causing my abdominal pain. And I don’t understand: 20 days earlier, my gynaecologist had visited me.

I remember her farewell phrase: “Everything is fine. See you in six months to evaluate how to intervene on the Bartholin’s gland”. Days pass in the hospital, and my abdomen remains swollen; the antibiotic therapy works slowly.

Hospitalization and Unexpected News

I remained hospitalised for 8 days in an atmosphere of disorder with traits of unprofessionalism. I discussed it with my father, who decided to inform the hospital management. They resign me. The CA125 Tumour diagnosis test shows it is a rupture of a twisted ovarian cystoma, peritonitis.

One Sunday morning, the HPV DNA doctor from Niguarda, who was treating me, called me and insisted that I see him in the hospital. I naively think that the topic of the meeting is my complaints about hospitalisation. I ask Benedetta to accompany me. The news is completely unexpected: the histological CA125 examination has tested positive. That is, the ovarian cyst turns out to be a carcinoma. The doctor cannot be reassuring: “Don’t worry, I have already booked the operating room in two days; we will intervene and remove everything”. I am scared, shocked and in disbelief.

Facing Cancer and Surgical Decisions

I tell Teresa, my sister-in-law, a European Oncology CA125 Institute nurse. After a few days, the doctor who visits me HPV checks the outcome of the biopsy and decides to intervene. The thought of no longer being able to have children worries me more than the idea of having cancer. I express my HPV concern to the Test Doctor. I enter the operating room with an agreement: if the conditions allow for a conservative operation, the doctors will respect my desire to remain fertile. However, if the conditions of the left ovary and the uterus are compromised, the CA125 doctors will proceed with their removal.

When I woke up, the news was good: the surgery was conservative. I feel relieved. After a few days of hospitalization, the doctors will discharge me, and I will start chemotherapy. But I’m confused. I want to avoid it. I read everything on the subject, but in the end, I decided to follow the chemotherapy treatment and tests, also so as not to blame myself for not having done everything necessary to get out of this HPV experience.

Life Post-Surgery and Recurrence

As often happens, life takes away, and life gives. I meet Giorgio, who is close to me, listens to me, and helps me accept my illness and regain my will to live. Also, I finished the chemotherapy cycle with carboplatin in May 2008. I feel good. I’m cured and can resume working and living my usual life. Seven months pass, and the check arrives.

It’s January 2009. I read a less-than-reassuring expression on the gynaecologist’s face. She explained that the ultrasound showed a mass surrounding the left ovary. I’m dismayed. My sister-in-law Teresa is with me; she consoles me, but I don’t understand. The doctors’ thesis is that it may be a benign form, so a period of CA125 observation testing begins to evaluate whether the mass, which is already 9 centimetres, is reducing.

The CA125 doctor who follows me is in the United States, and my interlocutor is, therefore, the co-surgeon of the previous operation. She claims that she cannot ascertain the nature of the mass without further intervention. I trust you; I end up under the knife again, for the third time. Now I know I have no alternatives left. The operation will be demolitive: the surgeons will remove the left ovary, uterus, and appendages.

Emotional Support and Continued Treatment

But this time, I’m scared for myself, for my life. She supports me and helps me give value to my life. Flavio, my bioenergetics HPV DNA test therapist, is a psychotherapist who involves mind and body. I’m confused and scared. I question everything, and I think I made a mistake, and I should have had everything removed in the previous surgery.

The doctors reassured me and told me that my fate would not have changed and that the disease could have attacked other organs. It’s February 28, 2009, when I leave the operating room; the surgery went well, and I will start second-line chemotherapy after 20 days, modifying the “magic liquid” with taxol. This time, recovery tires me more; I cannot walk for days and feel exhausted.

Life is once again harsh on me; my father dies suddenly: it’s March 10th, and I’m desperate. My family no longer exists; it’s emptiness and. chaos. My friends, Teresald and me, are close; love and solidarity keep me going. I started the second cycle of chemotherapy, which is even more invasive, but with the CA125 doctor’s help, I decided to continue and finish it. From hospitalizations for chemotherapy, I recall how a special intimacy developed in a single night among the other HPV patients, leading to a story of unthinkable confidence.

Reflection and Gratitude

It’s been 16 months; I regularly attend my quarterly IEO HPV checks. I have changed, appreciate every moment of my life, and don’t take anything for granted. Also, I know that my body is on loan, I have learned to take care of my soul, and I am in daily search of my well-being.

I thank all the CA125 professionals who accompanied me in my treatment journey: my psychotherapist, the oncologists, the psychologist who supported me with hypnosis, the doctor who assisted me with naturopathy, the Attive Come Prima Association who helped me supported me with group meetings and Franco Berrino, who taught me to eat with awareness. And I thank the love of the people who stood by me.

I hope my story can give courage to those who discover they have ovarian cancer.

You can cure this disease. I don’t feel like a survivor.