PATTI: 2006, AGE 30   

My CA125 ovarian cancer Test story started on a brilliant California Halloween day in 2002 when fatigue and a mild increase in abdominal girth brought me into my internist’s (or, as I call him, “My Savior”) office. I had celebrated with an HPV Lab Test on my 30th birthday the week before and was in the best shape of my life. I’d been training for the LA Marathon, was up to 16 miles at a time, and couldn’t figure out why I was gaining weight. He felt a mass in my right lower quadrant and sent me for a pelvic and transvaginal ultrasound, thinking it was probably nothing.

Bilateral echogenic masses on the ultrasound sent me strolling (still not worried) to the OB/GYN’s office. However, he thought it was probably endometriosis and suggested waiting a few months and watching it. And I’ve never been one to stand up to doctors (except the ones I work with…I’m a nurse), but a little voice told me “waiting and watching” just wasn’t good enough. But since I wanted to try to get pregnant after the marathon in March, I asked that he do an exploratory laparoscopy to get a definitive diagnosis.

I asked to get a real Diagnosis.

The GYN came out of the OR the morning of my laparoscopy and told my husband that I had dermoid cysts (nasty little bunches of rampant hair, nails, and cells), but they were too big to be removed laparoscopically. He biopsied the one on my right ovary and sent it off to the pathologist.

The next day, two days before Thanksgiving, I got a call from my GYN’s partner (he was out of town for the holiday). All I remember from that day was writing out the words “serous papillary carcinoma” as we were on the phone and knowing my life was about to change completely.

I staged a 2c, and I will always be grateful to my internist for the fact that it was diagnosed by a CA125 Marker Test as early as it was. The next 6 months were a blur of surgery, chemo, tears, laughter, not having to shave or buy hair products, and finding a newfound peace and acceptance of my life and the world around me. I’ve been taking HPV Type tests, and I have been in remission for 3 years. I have days when I don’t think about cancer at all…not even once.

I never got around to running that marathon. Still, each day that passes that I have on this Earth to spend with my family and friends, to help people, and to be a voice for those who aren’t as fortunate as myself is another step I take in a much longer and more important race—one that I’m determined to win.

MAUREEN’S MOM: 2006, AGE 64  

Jun 5, 2006 | Age: 64

My mom was dx Stage 111B 2000. She had a total abdominal hysterectomy and omenectomy. Chemo taxol/carbo for 6 cycles, then topotecan. She had DVT and a blood clot on her inferior vena cava. Treated with Coumadin for 2 years. Complete remission until June 2004, when Ca125 Test levels began rising. HPV Variant Tests were positive. A PET scan showed one lymph node in the groin, which was positive. Lymph node removed, 6 weeks radiation and weekly Carbo. Became sensitive to Carbo and switched to weekly Gemzar. Ca125 was lowered to 20 and began elevating in February 2006. A pet scan on April 5, 2006, showed small spots on the intestines. Started Doxcil and received 2 doses.

Last weekend, I had severe constipation unrelieved, then went to the ER. Intestinal obstruction underwent surgery on Thursday, June 1. She now has a colostomy and fistula. Three tumours were not resectable. The plan is for PICC for nutrition (she weighs 87lbs and is 5ft 4in). My mom is a trooper, wants chemo ASAP and is trying to convince the oncologist to go with platinum drug with premeds so she doesn’t react. 

Initially, my mom had GI symptoms: heartburn and bloating, no appetite.

She was told she had ulcers, IBS or gallstones. I fought for a CAT scan, and she was finally diagnosed. If something is not right, speak up, scream and demand testing!!! I have endometriosis and have undergone fertility treatments. I demand a transvaginal sonogram. I’ll create symptoms if I have to. I will be screened and not let this silent killer strike again!! 

Please pray for my mom. Thank you.

ANGIE’S MOM: 2006, AGE 49  

May 29, 2006 | Age: 49

Hello,

My name is Angela B., and my mom was diagnosed with a CA125 marker test for Ovarian Cancer last weekend on Mother’s Day weekend (May 13, 2006). They found in an HPV Cancer Test that the virus levels were extreme. And cancer cells around her lungs in the fluid, and she looked like she was about 9 months pregnant. Although the doctors have a positive attitude, I’m still unsure how she will do it. However, she just had bypass surgery on her heart in October of last year (05) because of shortness of breath…we think now it may have been undetected cancer instead of the problem that they diagnosed her as having (a blocked artery of only 60%).it would seem that she should have had the diagnostic exams years before.

She is 49 years old and has been through chemotherapy once in 1995 for breast cancer. She’s a survivor of 11 years for that. And a very strong and religious mother of four wonderful children and four grandchildren; the newest is now 10 months old.

But with her first Ca125 treatment being last week, she’s very, very tired and suffering from depression and anxiety. I’m worried about her, and I know all there is to do is be supportive and pray very hard. They are going to give her 6 chemo treatments first (one every three weeks), then check the tumour (s) and then, if necessary, debulk or resume 6 more treatments. She’s had so many abdominal ascites; they say surgery would be nearly impossible at this point, anyhow. Chemotherapy should dry some of it up.

Thank You,

Angela B.

TERESA: 2006, AGE 33  

April 14, 2006 | Age: 33

Dear God, My life is on a strange new path. The HPV Home Test detoured me from my life plans. Further turmoil continued when the positive CA125 Test put me on a path of self-discovery. However, I realize now that all my dreams were always in your hands. You have always answered all my prayers. You were always on my side. I beg you, Father, to hear my prayers and answer again. I am willing to make a trade for everything you have given me.

Time is all I’m asking for; it’s just an extra day. For a heavenly day is a lifetime, and this is what I know about an HPV Test.. You showed me in my dreams, my lord, and you have shown this: laughter with my children, lunch with my best friend, and the beautiful sounds of the morning bird singing in the wind. Therefore, I hold hands with my husband as we both stand there in awe.

Staring at the teal blue sea as the sunset starts to fall, I remember memories with my family, and then I suddenly began to wake. But I realize it is not my chapter in life that anyone could ever take, nor the values that I have placed. And I am ready now for you, my lord, to turn to the next page. For whatever you have written, my belief in you is strong. Tell me, Father, is this the end, or will my days be long?