Most stories start at the beginning, but where do you start when the beginning is unknown? Maybe it all started with conception, when my genetic blueprint was laid out, or maybe it all began with that first microscopic cancer cell and who knows when that was. Since I am just playing with a bunch of unknowns here, I will just start with November 15, 2013, my diagnosis of the Big C. I know I am skipping a lot of information, like how I actually made it onto the table that day, but I will have to get to that later. Surgery was “optional” and scheduled to last about 1.5 hours. I was to have a total hysterectomy of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and what was believed to be a 13cm noncancerous fibroid. Well, once the incision was made my OB/GYN found things were “not as he had expected.” I feel very fortunate that my Dr. at that very moment called the Gynecological Oncologist on call, Dr. Mark Messing. He came in and performed what they call a debulking in which they remove all visible signs of cancer. The 1.5 pound tumor had adhered to the bowel in about a four inch segment and luckily it had not invaded the bowel lining. Dr. Messing removed my appendix, which he said looked funny, scraped the pelvic cavity and took 8 lymph nodes for biopsy, starting in my pelvic region closest to the tumor and then up to my aorta. The doctors would tell my family that the surgery was a success! What what? Yes, a success, because they were able to remove all visible signs of cancer! Knowing what I do now about this invasive beast that is a great thing! Many times the cancer has spread to such an extent that it is considered inoperable and the woman has to be closed back up and then do chemo to shrink the tumors before they can do a proper surgical debulking. So what I came away with, 4 hours and two transfusions later, was Ovarian Cancer at least stage two with no VISIBLE signs of disease. I was automatically considered stage two because the cancer had spread outside of the ovary. I would have to wait for the results of the biopsy to find out if the cancer was greater than a stage two. And for those results I was to get a whole week of waiting. Lucky for me I was very distracted with trying to heal from what is considered major surgery and ladies and gentlemen, don't let anyone tell you different, it was major! Especially since they went in there and jacked around with all my internal organs. My OB/GYN would later tell me that I did not want to know what they did in there. Haha, probably not.
Moms have two important jobs. We raise a family and when we are not busy raising our family we “worry” about our family. So late at night, when we rest our head and close our eyes, that is when we are the best worriers. And I don't know about you, but I can be really good at that second job! The week after surgery medication would help me to fall asleep, but then as it wore off I would awaken to bizarre dreams and then let the worry begin. I just knew that there was no way this huge tumor had not invaded lymph nodes and other organs. How could a killer cancer so large not sneak its way in? And for the first time in my life I was met with my mortality. What will happen to my family and how long do I have... So it was with great trepidation that Stanley and I made our way to Dr. Messing's office that next week where he told us that of the 8 lymph nodes tested, 0 showed microscopic cancer! This means that I would stay a Stage 2! Now for the not so great news, my official diagnosis: Ovarian Cancer Stage 2c-Mixed carcinoma, predominantly clear cell carcinoma admixed with high grade papillary serous carcinoma and focal sarcomatioid features. What does all that mean? Well, I have three different cancer cells present, two of which, clear cell and papillary serous, are high grade which means they are fast growing highly metastasizing cancers. Is this good? Duh, no. And I will admit to going and looking up statistics concerning longevity with this type of Ovarian cancer. Yes, I did go look, once. And never again. My future does not hinge on Googled statistics. You are welcome to go look them up for yourself. Not saying I don't educate myself concerning my own disease, but the statistics are others stats, not mine. As for me, I am my own statistic. A statistic of one.