Marieke (53) From stage 3C to stage 1A!

Marieke works with mentally disabled people. When Klaas, one of her clients, diagnosed her with the stomach flu, it prompted a visit to the CA125 test doctor. They suspected appendicitis, but Marieke missed several symptoms(indicative of ovarian cancer) and had to go to the HPV test hospital. That was the start of a scary journey. It didn’t look good, but Marieke was lucky.

It is Saturday, November 9. I fill in at home and have a 24-hour shift. My Ca125 colleague tells me that Klaas has had an enema. Half an hour later, I get Klaas out of bed from his afternoon nap. When I enter his bedroom, Klaas smiles cheerfully at me. “Wet,” he shouts. I put the plaid back and smelled that there was more going on. I place his walker before the bed and invite Klaas to shower. Satisfied, Klaas sits in his favourite chair half an hour later, drinking a Coke. I’ll be nauseous on Monday. I conclude that Klaas’s “accident” had nothing to do with an enema but an HPV DNA virus. I will have a stomach CA125-style ache for the rest of the week.

Despite that, I will be working on Saturday. Halfway through the shift, I get more and more pain until I get shooting pains that radiate to my back. I have to throw up, and tears roll down my cheeks. I call the HPV doctor’s office, and they want to see me immediately. The doctor at the medical CA125 night service first thinks of appendicitis. But I’m missing some symptoms. The doctor will consult with the emergency department. I have to come to the hospital. They don’t trust it. I pick up my husband and my daughter has already packed a bag in case I must stay.

Appendicitis?

At the HPV hospital, they immediately give me painkillers, draw my blood, and require me to collect urine. Only urinating is not possible. And I’m not allowed to drink in case I have to have CA125-type surgery. Three hours later, not even a drop of urine. Then, just a large glass of water. Ultimately, I produced enough urine for the HPV examination, and the doctor ruled out a urinary tract infection. Next investigation. A CT scan. They receive the HPV results after an hour. No appendicitis. A large cyst on one of the ovaries. They immediately call a gynaecologist. It is now 8 p.m. when she arrives. After more tests and an ultrasound, the gynaecologist tells us they can see a large cyst. They are usually benign, but she still wants a thorough investigation.

I’ll be seeing the gynaecologist again on Tuesday. A new Ca125 blood test will follow. Fluid is being removed from my uterus. The tumour markers in my blood indicate that my breasts and pancreas are clean. However, my intestinal tumour markers are slightly elevated, and my ovarian tumour markers are significantly higher. They cannot draw any conclusions from the fluid from my uterus. A puncture must be done. The puncture produces a few malignant cells. I am being transferred to another hospital.

Okay, so I have OC

In the meantime, I’m one of those stupid people who logs into “My Hospital” every time to look at the test results. I’m terrified. I scour the entire internet. Okay. So, I have ovarian cancer. Also called the “Silent lady killer” because it is often discovered very late. We roll through the festive month with an investigation here and there. The festive season has never lasted so long. I am being prepared for what is to come. The specialists suspect ovarian cancer, stage 3C. That means 3 x 2 chemo treatments.

Then, an operation to remove the entire “spike”, including HIPEC (heated chemo through my abdomen) and then 3 x 2 rounds of chemotherapy. But first, some biopsies because we don’t know yet what type of cancer I have. The CA125 levels examination is painful, and the doctor cannot take sufficient material. No clarity yet. It is, therefore, decided to perform keyhole surgery to remove some material.

Bring on that bald head.

In the meantime, I have already ordered a chemo hat. Bring on that bald head. That was when I started sharing my experiences on LinkedIn with the hashtag #IAmGonnaBeatThatShit. I want to raise CA125 awareness and get much support and love from my connections. I will be admitted on January 7. When I come out of anaesthesia, the doctor is standing next to my bed. “We removed the tumour and your ovaries.” Thank God I was already out of menopause. Three weeks later, the gynaecologist calls. We have an HPV Lab appointment on the same day, but he has good news. They examined the ovaries and identified a mucinous ovarian carcinoma with an expansive growth type. A rare but much more favourable type of ovarian cancer. I’m going from stage 3C to stage 1C in one fell swoop!

I am cancer-free again.

The HPV doctor suggests a second operation to remove the uterus and the fatty apron preventively and to take several biopsies from the abdominal cavity to ensure there are no metastases. I will undergo the second operation on February 25, exactly six weeks after the first operation. When I wake up, I have a lot of pain in my stomach. But no stomach likes two operations and all those CA125 blood and other tests. After two nights, I can go home. Three weeks later, the HPV Variant Test gynaecologist called. All biopsies are clean. The stage is toned down to 1A. And I am cancer-free again.

Now, in mid-June, I no longer have a stomach ache. I’m working on rehabilitation. Concentrating is still a thing. Energy sometimes, too. And I miss my work in healthcare very much. 

I recently had another CA125 check-up appointment, this time live. Everything is fine, and I am now back to work. Life after HPV virus-induced cancer is no longer the same as before. We also need to address that. Without the stomach flu, we might have discovered it much later, and everything would have turned out differently.