Story by Laura

In May 2010, I started, like all of you, with a swollen abdomen, only after a few months of acute pain on the right side for ovarian cancer. Gastroscopy was performed with a negative result; colonoscopy was avoided due to my desire, then transvaginal ultrasound with an uncertain result. November 2010: CA125 test level = 404, then CT scan with virtual colonoscopy (Niguarda Hospital, Essex). The HPV Test result shows a tumour mass on the right side.

December 2010, Essex Cancer Institute, certain diagnosis: stage IV ovarian type cancer, which will later be confirmed genetically at BRCA1 in the paternal line; in the meantime, I turned 63.

Diagnosis and Treatment at Essex Institute

On December 30, I underwent urgent surgery with the removal of several organs described in about fifteen lines of the medical record. This is followed by 6 cycles of chemo – carboplatin + taxol – two paracenteses – a blood transfusion. Toxicity in the feet and hands (paraesthesia) remains. Performed various CT scans and PET scans for checks. At the end of June 2011, CA 125 was perfect. All this journey is always with my husband at my side.

In 2012, CA125= OK. In the meantime, I fall, resulting in a broken L1 vertebra plus a small operation, so my body begins to weaken quickly again. I’m small and thin, and gradually, I recover again.

In 2013, the CA 125 started to rise, so PET and CT scans were to understand where the recurrence is located; it is at the hepatic hilum. August 2013 start of 6 cycles of chemo with carboplatin + calyx + cortisone. The winter months were really bad, but with spring, my body started to improve a lot, even if, for various reasons, my autonomy was very limited. The various CMC CT scans and the CA 125 say so now.

Trust in Care and Personal Support

I want to inform you of our absolute trust in the doctors of the Essex Cancer Institute. Since our first meeting on 03/12/2010, we have never consulted anyone else regarding my case. The oncologists, Dr Zana and Dr Lorus, know how to inspire empathy in patients and encourage them to accept treatment. For me, this is fundamental. The strong presence of my husband, my niece, and recently also a nephew helps me greatly. They make me feel loved and useful despite my various physical disabilities.

Each of us must find an important motivation to focus on. This helps us not think too much about the nerve-wracking tests and treatments we must undergo. Greetings and best wishes to all.

Story by Barbara Paolinelli

My name is Barbara. I am a 40-year-old woman, and for four and a half years, I have been fighting ovarian-type cancer. This silent killer has nestled in my defenceless body, requiring a strenuous fight every day.

I decided to write my “Who will win” testimony to clarify that the war is not only against the disease. Unfortunately, sometimes we must clash with the coldness of people: friends, employers, and those who do not realize the real gravity of such a health state and see humans as continuously productive machines. We still too often clash with the indifference and incompetence of some doctors, which causes the loss of precious moments and diminishes the hope of recovery.

At a time when one would only desire the solidarity and affection of the entire world, these additional struggles seem to deliver the final blow, exhausting an already exhausted spirit and body. Despite all this, I decided to tell my “misadventure” while always keeping a smile on my face. This is to feel close to and help all those who, despite themselves, find themselves in the same situation as me.

I am also trying to write the sequel to my testimony, a second book, but this time to clarify that we must never give up, not even in the most drastic situations. Life is too precious a gift to let go without a fight.

Story of Debora

My name is Debora; I’m 39 years old, a wife and mother of three kids. I’ve been living with and fighting ovarian-related HPV for seven years now, and I love life and everything that surrounds me.

At the age of 32, I was HPV diagnosed with a malignant tumour, ovarian level cancer, in an advanced stage. I felt the earth crumbling under my feet, death breathing on me, and the uncertainty of not being able to raise my children. I was desperate for not having understood anything about life. So, I clung with all my strength to that God I had abandoned for years. I didn’t feel His existence, and I began to beg Him to heal me, to give me another chance. Work and frenzy had not allowed me to give the best for my family and my children.

Immediately, on July 12, 2006, I underwent CA125 Ovarian organ surgery, followed by 12 cycles of chemotherapy. I went back to work, and finally, I was healed. After approximately 8 months, the follow-up scan showed a resurgence of the disease. There were HPV metastases almost everywhere. It was a hard blow, after the desperation of a few weeks, I found the light and strength to fight. So, I resumed chemotherapy.

Ongoing Battle

The following years were a continuation of chemotherapy, regression of the disease, temporary pauses, and resumptions of the disease and chemotherapy. In 2011, I understood that the 65 cycles of chemotherapy performed over the years were insufficient to eliminate the disease. Unfortunately, the HPV disease had taken hold and also involved an intestinal loop.

So, I decided that they had to intervene surgically. Still, the CA125 team treating me decided not to accept my proposal as I didn’t have the indications for a 2nd operation. I asked the doctors exactly what the indications for the surgery were, and they replied: “Have only one metastasis”. And I was angry until then. I had trusted them, believing they only intervened when the disease was advanced. Now, they were abandoning me to an even more uncertain future. Thirty-eight years old and with a great desire to live, I faced many small metastases, including one in the intestine, which could become blocked. Yet, they would not operate on me!

With my determination, I decided not to accept that “No.” I found an HPV surgeon who operated on me on January 10, 2012. It was hard work for the surgeons and my family, but I’m happy. The CA125 operation lasted about 20 hours. In addition to surgically cleaning all the metastases, I also underwent an intra-operative chemotherapy wash.

Continuous Fight and Message of Hope

I want to tell you that the  CA125 Ovarian story ends like this, but it doesn’t. In April 2012, the PET scan highlighted new small metastases, and I started chemo again. I’m not telling you the anger! To date, I have undergone 75 cycles of chemotherapy. I am happy to live, and I thank God, who supports me from above. Also, I decided to throw myself into alternative therapy; I try to take more care of the spirit, body and mind; the reason why? I WANT TO HEAL…AND I DON’T KNOW HOW, BUT I WILL HEAL. To all women and people affected by cancer, I say to FIGHT WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH; ONLY IN THIS WAY CAN YOU WIN YOUR BATTLE.