I'm so glad that we have a month where we can celebrate our lives with awareness of this horrible disease. September has been officially declared as "National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month". So much emphasis has been on Breast Cancer and true it strikes far more women but Ovarian Cancer still strikes 20,000 women each year and 15,000 women die each year from this disease. In 2008 they had estimated that 21,650 women would be diagnosed and that 15,520 would die from this disease.
If a woman is diagnosed in Stage 1 of this disease, there is 93% survival rate which is much better than the late stage diagnosis. Oftentimes when the disease is discovered it is often in the late stages; most often stage III. Once it is in stage III or higher, then chances of surviving past 5 years is only 46%. Research has determined that 70 - 90% of these women will have a recurrence of the disease. Only 10% of patients with stage 1 will have a recurrence, 30% with stage II, and 70-80% will have a recurrence with stage III, and 90 - 95% of stage IV will have a recurrence.
My doctor and others have told me that once the disease has recurred it often harder to treat. During the initial diagnosis; treatments must be aggressive in order to kill the disease and the frontline or gold standard treatments are often Taxol and Carboplatinum. I'm so glad I didn't have to take these treatments over again after mine had recurred after 3 and half years of getting Peritonitis. Yes, a mistake made my cancer go into remission where as the chemotherapy had brought the cancer down but not completely.
To commemorate this special month, I will share with you all the story of how my cancer went into remission for 3 and half years. Yes, it did come back but it was still 3 and half good years. with out the cancer. Well after all those treatments, there was still quite a bit of cancer inside me. I will never forget that moment in history. Prepare yourself for a long interesting read.
I had just finished 8 treatments of Taxol and Carboplatinum in May of 2003, and a good friend of mine decided to celebrate and take us to Las Vegas to celebrate my life and getting through all that chemo. Tim I love you and we miss you! Anyway, we had such a blast and I had never been to Las Vegas. It was just what we needed to start the healing process. My husband and I got to stay at the Paris and at the Venitian. We got to take a ride on the gondola inside the Venitian while the dude that guided the boat sang opera to us. It was very cool. We also got to see those white tigers but we didn't get to see them perform and this was before Siegfried or what it Roy got wounded from an attack? It was still pretty cool. We also went to a very cool vintage car show; it was the best! Here we are eating at the restaurant on top of the Paris Hotel? I could be wrong. It was so long ago and I'm sporting my pretty blond wig my honey had bought me for Christmas!)
Well after that vacation which was in June 2003, in July we spent a couple of days in Napa. Everyone at my job pitched in (I will never ever forget the kindness these wonderful souls gave me and continue to). We got to take our special honeymoon as we stayed at Milliken Creek Inn and Spa. It was absolutely fabulous. Here we are enjoying breakfast that they prepared each day for us in front of a brook and a gorgeous field where we often saw deer peering up at us. It was very romantic. My hair was barely growing in at this point. We got to go wine tasting and the cool thing was that we went during the slow part of the week so that we could get some bargains rather than paying weekend prices. We stayed about three days but it was ultimately a wonderful honeymoon.
When we got home we had more realities to face. Should we get a second look surgery to see if all the cancer is gone? We decided yes, and we got that schedule around August 19, 2003. It was a sad day when we got the results. I cried in my honey's arms; I'll never forget that moment. We decided to do intraperitoneal chemo so that we could get a chance and kill the fucking cancer. Well the first thing that I needed was a port and that port would have be placed just above my right rib cage. We had the surgery done on September 1, 2003 and I went back to work on September 3rd. I felt like I had the worst gas ever; only I wasn't farting. My tummy swelled to the size where I looked like I was about 5 months pregnant and it started to get quite uncomfortable and painful. A friend of mine went with me to lunch and we tried to eat at Fresh Choice and I couldn't eat anything. I was so nauseated. I then decided when I got to back to work that I needed to go home. My friend thought that I looked so incredibly pail.
I had a guitar lesson that night and the whole time I thought I just had gas. I farted some but not that much. OMG. I had such a pervy midget guitar teacher (he was about 4ft something, very short with long black hair and he was balding) who still hit on me even though I had told him the romantic story of how my husband proposed to me a second time when I awoke from that innitial surgery. I had paid for a whole month of lessons and he was OK in the beginning but after each lesson he just got pervier and pervier until I couldn't handle anymore. I don't know; I get so nervous when dudes try to hit on me. I'm so thankful to be married the best man ever and it sucks when they know that I am married and continue to hit on me anyway.
This little dude knew just how much my husband meant to me and how I much I loved him more than anything in the world. I even told him our romantic story of how we got married. How on earth can a dude do that? I just don't get it? It's totally beyond me. I would never hit on someone who I knew was in a committed relation and was in love as much as I am with my husband. I'm confused. If someone can tell me that; I would really like to know. I did everything in my power for this little fucker not hit on me. I just wanted some good guitar lessons and nothing else; seriously nothing else; just guitar lessons and that's it. I was taking guitar lessons because it was really helping me with my neurapathy that I was starting to get in my hands. I still play some but very rarely. I still feel to this day that guitar playing has helped some with my Chemobrain and the neuropathy.
I suck tremendously. Anyway, I had the lesson and I had smoked about 3 bowls before heading into my guitar lesson (I can function excellently in any situation with this painkiller unlike many others). It worked to get rid of that horrible, horrible gas pain. I was able to carry my guitar to the lesson, get through lesson and his stupid idiotic pathetic ways of hitting on me. (I think this was my very last lesson with the little son of a bitch = sorry he pissed me off). I never wore make-up, tried my best to look homely, OMG he probably would have gone crazy over Blue Belle. Ewwww! He was such a perv!
The pain started to come back towards the end of my lesson and I was so ready to get the hell out of there as he tried to put his arms around me to show me how to strum differently. I was so not into that at all. Just show me how to play and that's it. No touching! He was being really pathetic at this point and it totally grossed me out. It drove me absolutely insane so I cut the lesson short and told him I wasn't feeling well and I wasn't. Sometimes I am just too nice and still trying to give him the benefit of a doubt. I was hurting pretty bad and at this point the pain level was about an 8 as I struggled to lift my guitar into my truck. I drove slowly in the right lane on the highway and was breathing quite heavily. I could not believe the amount pain I was feeling. I still to this day have no idea how I went through an entire guitar lesson and made that drive home. I had to have had a guardian angel with me on that day.
I got home, grabbed my guitar and went inside. My husband had left to go to the city to see a concert with a friend. He deserved his night out; I went over to the bed and decided to lay down and hope the pain would go away. Toonces, my now deceased cat jumped up on the bed with me. I was trying to go to sleep but he wasn't having it. He would smack my back and then bite my shoulder trying to get me up. Finally I had enough and I got up but the pain was horrendous at this point; I could barely breath. I called my husband and told him about it and he in turn called my neighbor Dan. My husband was seconds away from walking inside the Filmore where there is no way he could have heard me. I was in my denial stage of "there's nothing wrong with me". I called the Advice nurse and was on the line with her and then came a knock on the door. It was my neighbor Dan. All of a sudden I had to puke my brains out and he took over on the phone with the advice nurse. I puked up a huge pile of puke with all the warning colors of "Dial 911!". So we did. Yes, there was plenty of blood in the puke.
The ambulance arrived promptly and took me to the Old Hospital where I was given plenty of morphine for the pain and a CAT scan which indicated that there was a rupture in one of my intestines. The doctor had told me that I had a case of Peritonitis and I could have died had I not been brought in sooner. I couldn't believe that I was in that denial phase of "there's nothing wrong me, it's just gas". I had to have emergency surgery the following morning.
To Be Continued Tomorrow...