CDC Symptom Diary Card

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Starting on a new trail for now

Hi everyone.

My mom and sister took me to the oncologist today for my post-chemo appointment. I wanted to share a summary of that visit and share a few feelings about my situation.

For the moment, I am in a good situation as far as ovarian cancer goes. The doctor said that I had a good response to the chemotherapy and that for now, the cancer has subsided. The thing I need to look out for is that statistics show that there is a 60% chance of the cancer returning in the cases of my type of ovarian cancer. Soooooooooooooooooooooooooo my "job" is not to focus on the "what if it returns" scenario, but rather try to focus on how I can heal as the new me.

She said it can take a bit of time for chemo to get out of your system and six months to a year to recover. Because this has been a life altering experience, I cannot expect to return to be the person I was before the cancer. My life is different now.

My hopes are that in taking each day step by step, that I will eventually be able to embrace my new life, not worry about statistics, and live with eternal gratitude for all of God's blessings.

The cancer center is going to monitor me closely for two years minimum, which is great. I couldn't have asked for a better outcome. I have been so blessed, so fortunate. My family and friends have been amazing and could never have made it through this ordeal without you all.

I have come a long way from surgery, surgical recovery, and chemo. Eight months ago I needed help getting in and out of bed and now I'm finished with chemo, ready to get stronger.

In the beginning I was so so so angry at the healthcare system, some of my doctors and insurance restrictions and now I couldn't be happier with my doctors and insurance. Insurance is another blessing. Thank you again Mandy and Patrick!

I have a lot of mixed emotions (which is normal) but for certain am very happy today. I know I am rambling a bit, sorry for that. I just wanted to tell you the good news. I still have odds and end things to do for the next few years, but hopefully the hardest part is over.

Thank you again to all my family and friends that have selflessly helped me throughout this process. I love you!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

thoughts on prognosis

In two days I will see the gynecology oncologist for my "post chemo" review. With trepidation I have researched more on the BRCA 1 mutation along with reviewing additional information on Ovarian Cancer survival statistics. At the same time I am haunted by the fact that there will be an end, just how soon, only God really knows. My thoughts today have been scattered and dark. How long will I really live? What good will I do? How am I going to survive financially while alive? What is my purpose?

I do know that I would love to interview other people who have been diagnosed with a known "killer" disease, and find out how they feel. What keeps them going? Is it faith? What about strong relationships with family and friends? What about daily good deeds, acts of love and kindness? What about simply taking in a sweet breath of fresh air each day and making an effort to remember the moment? What about taking a moment to be with someone you love and just rejoicing in their being? What about sitting in silence and remembering your life?

In other words I have really not the slightest clue how to proceed today. In a few days I hope to have a better idea. It is highly unlikely that my doctor will give me anything concrete, but I do hope she can sort of guide me on how to continue knowing that because of my advanced cancer, there is a strong possibility of it returning.

Did I mention that when I met with the genetic medical oncologist to talk about the BRCA 1 mutation, she glossed over a statement "you are more likely to have ovarian cancer return than to get breast cancer". Still regret digging further into that at the moment, so I'll save that question for Dr. G.

I went onto the FORCE website today and read message boards from mothers who are BRCA 1 positive. It was so sad to hear the guilt from so many who blamed themselves for potentially passing the mutation to their children. Some were angry at God and then others embraced God for the daily graces He gives us. I just pray every day for all in need to reach out to God for his love. We all have our cross to bear. I am not special.

On a side note, my sister and her husband are getting a cute cat for their children. A wonderful yellow cat saved from a shelter. Her children are rejoicing. I am so happy for all of them because I know the girls will be great cat moms. What a blessing to experience such joy.

My sis and her husband have made so many sacrifices in order to help me through this entire ordeal. I have been very fortunate. There are not enough words to express my gratitude. Thank you Mandy!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Breast MRI

Hi everyone,

I underwent a breast MRI and abdominal CT scan this past Monday. My sister and mother patiently waited for three hours at SCCA, being kind and supportive as always. I had been nervous and real depressed. This past Sunday the three of us attended a meeting through FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered). We met three other women who are BRCA 1 mutation positive. Networking with other women who also face the uncertainty of when breast cancer arrives is very helpful. One woman had a prophylactic mastectomy because she had already had breast cancer before her genetic testing. Another woman had also gone through Ovarian Cancer surgery and chemo in a very similar scenario to myself. Another woman has tested positive, had ovarian cancer and plans to have a prophylactic mastectomy.

I received a call yesterday that my breast MRI was "good" and that I would be receiving a letter as to the recommended follow-up. I was so relieved, so grateful, and thanked God above. This gives me hope for my other family members who have the genetic mutation. I am the oldest sibling, so I pray that my younger siblings would also be negative for any findings.

Now I wait for my appointment with my gynecology oncologist on March 18th to review my abdominal CT scan and bloodwork. I am relieved to know now that I will be in a "surveilance" program for life at SCCA. As much as it drives me crazy to have so many medical appointments, I need the support and would have panicked if there were no such program.

I will let you know about the letter. For now I am focusing on recovery. I am so weak, low endurance and very depressed. I have started an antidepressant, but it takes almost a month for the effects to kick into full gear. So each day I do a little more, but I feel "cloudy". I have trouble concentrating and really have no motvation. I pray that I get more motivated as time passes, with spring around the corner, I should improve.

I will get to receive some physical therapy to work on my scar tissue and strength towards the end of March. Wonderful.

Now I am ready to be more supportive to my siblings. I love them dearly.

Bye for now.