CDC Symptom Diary Card

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Five Year Cancerversary

It is 4:00 pm Pacific Time in Seattle Washington.  I am sitting in a nice recliner at UWMC, receiving my Avastin.  I have received kudos from my oncology nurse for this milestone, a day that wows me.

Five years ago at 4:00 pm Pacific Time I was in surgery at a hospital in Sacramento.  Dr. Leiserowitz was doing a procedure called "debulking surgery" to remove ovarian tumors from my body along with tumors that had travelled and created a home throughout my pelvic, abdominal cavity and lymph system.

My mom and aunt Debbie sat anxiously in the waiting area until at least 6:00 pm for the surgeon to reveal any good news. There were 3 previous times when I was told that I could not and did not have ovarian cancer because I was too young.

Everyone was in shock.  I was angry, scared and in a rage.  My mom was so frightened and this whole ordeal took a toll on her health. This ordeal took a toll on everyone in my family.  I wish that would have been different.

The debulking surgery is the method used to systematically, with utmost precision, clean out the tissues and then have pathology properly diagnose the disease at hand.  We really did not know what would come from this surgery, pain and agony.

Mom said that the surgeon walked into the waiting room beaming with joy. He said that although the surgery was aggressive and that my cancer had metasticized throughout, there was only a tiny tumor remaining and that chemotherapy would take care of it.  He was highly encouraged and gave myself and my family great confidence.

In a sense I was optimally debulked.

Just before he put me under I told him to be aggressive and if I was going to need a "bag", so be it.  He was careful to ask this before surgery and at the time I was more hesitant, but on the day of surgery, I just knew I needed for him not to be held back in any way. It is what it is and needs to go.

I then moved to Seattle to be with family.  Mom was so gracious to allow me, at age 45, to move in with her.  I was single and had no family in Sacramento.

I thank God that mom and my sister were in Seattle.  I have been receiving excellent care from Dr. Heidi Gray, the SCCA and UWMC for my front line chemo and for my recurrence.  Dr. Gray has had to make adjustments in my treatment because my immune system was compromised even before cancer.  My recurrence was initially treated via carboplatin desensitization, then Lipodox and now Avastin.  I am tolerating the Avastin well so far and the idea is that I will remain in maintenance therapy.  I still show tumors on CT scans.


I never knew that this day would come.  Without God, family, community, my medical team, Dr. Gray, Dr. Leiserowitz and my friends and followers, I would not  be here.

How is life better?  In every way except for my mom being gone now. Had it not been for cancer I would never have been blessed to spend time living with her, having my dear sister right here and having a chance to begin a new life.  My aunt, brother, other family and friends have been here every step of the way.  My dad prays for me every day.

I pray to God and mom and St. Peregrine on a regular basis.  I am not as afraid of death, since mom died.  To be with her one day brings me joy.

I have been writing this blog about my life with ovarian cancer to help other people learn more about it but also learn more about what it is like to have ovarian cancer.

That I am here goes against the odds.

My sunny view from the window is absolutely beautiful. I am so grateful, so happy to be here.  I am always on the ready and prepared for what comes, good or bad.

I love my family with all my heart for without you I would have had nowhere to go.

My heart aches for mom and soon my sister and her family will be moving.  

Someone loving just said to me, "God is opening up a new opportunity".

I pray for all who are sick, to be healed and well.

Peace and Blessings


Friday, July 25, 2014

Power Morcellation Can Spread Hidden Tumors (considering a hysterectomy?)

The Dangers of Power Morcellation: This information is from the Recall Center about the dangers using power morcellators for hysterectomies.The link pasted below from The New York Times shares important research about the dangers of this procedure.

Ladies beware, please read.

  • What is a Power Morcellator? A device used in hysterectomies to cut tissue into small pieces to be removed from the body. However, uterine cancers sometimes go undetected prior to the procedure. In these cases, the morcellator dices up and spreads unsuspected cancer inside the woman's body.

  • Hysterectomy is the 2nd most common surgery among women in the United States

  • By age 70, one out of three American women will have had a hysterectomy

  • 90% of these surgeries are done to remove Fibroids (non-cancerous tumors found in the uterus)

  • The average life span following accidental morcellation of sarcoma is only 24-36 months

  • Only 15% of women who have leiomyosarcoma (LMS) that has spread (stage 4) will be alive after 5 years

  • Women with sarcoma who are morcellated are about 4 times more likely to die from sarcoma than if they had not been morcellated

We have some great information about the device and it's dangers on our Power Morcellator page.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rivkin Center SummerRun and N.E.D. The Movie in Seattle

Seattle is soon to be hopping with events that raise money to support ovarian cancer research and F.O.R.C.E..

This post today sends you to important links that help us in this region to better support those effected by this cancer or who are threatened with possibly facing the reality of breast or ovarian cancer due to  the inheritance of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation.

On Sunday July 27, 2014 the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research is hosting the SummerRun and Walk in downtown Seattle.  This is an annual event supporting a research center dedicated solely to ovarian cancer.  Please take a look at my site and see how you can help.

I am a "VIRTUAL WALKER" this year because my cancer fatigue and rheumatoid arthritis preclude me from walking at that early hour.  ;-)  I get really hot when walking too, which makes me sick....ugh.

Although a few potential jokes linger about me resting in luxury while everyone else walks, I am disappointed because it is important that we see as many people as possible on the walk.  So anything you can do to help us up here in the pacific northwest would be greatly appreciated.  This event grows stronger every year and with your help we can make it even more powerful.

Thank you.  To view my page or our team page:

SummerRun and Walk for Ovarian Cancer Research

In September, look forward to viewing an award winning screening of "N.E.D. The Movie". This is the documentary about the gynecology oncology surgeons, their awesome band and their loyal fans.  

Proceeds benefit F.O.R.C.E.  Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered.  I am BRCA 1 mutation positive.  Myself, along with thousands of others, are either currently facing breast or ovarian cancer or have a great risk of having one or both of these cancers in the future.  The genetic mutations increase these cancer risks.

F.O.R.C.E. helps us and those effected by this news.  I will post more about this event, the genetic mutations and F.O.R.C.E. as we get closer to the event.

F.O.R.C.E. was very helpful to me and my family when it was discovered that I have the mutation  Now we know more of what to do and when.

N.E.D. The Movie Coming to Seattle Area Soon

Peace and Blessings
Denise Archuleta  a.k.a. "Servivorgirl"

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Early Detection Of Ovarian Cancer Initiated by Pelvic Exam

Meet Valisia Lekae:  She is a young beautiful star on broadway who was blessed to have had her ovarian cancer detected early.  She is seen in the segment hosted on Today with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.  Valisia is now the spokeswoman for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and together they move forward with our cause.

The NOCC also recommends that women continue to get annual pelvic examinations. Here is a link to their news section where you can find more information about this very important issue.

I was shocked to learn of the recommendation that asymptomatic women could bypass the pelvic exam.  Some women who were asymptomatic do have ovarian cancer, and it is important to allow your gynecologist the opportunity to perform a complete medical exam.

The bimanual exams are uncomfortable, yes. But they should not be painful.  Medical exams are never fun but the discomfort of a pelvic exam is minimal compared to the agony of cancer surgery and chemotherapy.  I only say this because women still need to arm themselves with information.  You may not really know where a doctor stands on any given medical issue and unfortunately we need to constantly double check what the primary care doctors are doing.

I am looking forward to learning more about Valisia Lekae and am very excited that such a strong and beautifully talented woman is our spokesperson.

ACOG Practice Advisory on Annual Pelvic Examination Recommendations - ACOG

ACOG Practice Advisory on Annual Pelvic Examination Recommendations - ACOG


ACOG Practice Advisory on Annual Pelvic Examination Recommendations

June 30, 2014

Washington, DC — The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (the College) has reviewed the recommendations from the American College of Physicians about annual pelvic examinations and continues to stand by its guidelines, which complement those released recently by the American College of Physicians.
The College’s guidelines, which were detailed in this year’s Committee Opinion on the Well-Woman Visit, acknowledge that no current scientific evidence supports or refutes an annual pelvic exam for an asymptomatic, low-risk patient, instead suggesting that the decision about whether to perform a pelvic examination be a shared decision between health care provider and patient, based on her own individual needs, requests, and preferences.
However, the College continues to firmly believe in the clinical value of pelvic examinations, through which gynecologists can recognize issues such as incontinence and sexual dysfunction. While not evidence-based, the use of pelvic exams is supported by the clinical experiences of gynecologists treating their patients. Pelvic examinations also allow gynecologists to explain a patient’s anatomy, reassure her of normalcy, and answer her specific questions, thus establishing open communication between patient and physician.
Of course, pelvic examinations represent just one part of the annual well-woman visit, which can help to identify health risks for women and which can also feature clinical breast examinations, immunizations, contraceptive care discussions, and health care counseling. Importantly, annual well-woman visits help to strengthen the patient-physician relationship.
“We continue to urge women to visit their health care providers for annual visits, which play a valuable role in patient care,” said John C. Jennings, MD, President of the College. “An annual well-woman visit can help physicians to promote healthy living and preventive care, to evaluate patients for risk factors for medical conditions, and to identify existing medical conditions, thereby opening the door for treatment. Annual well-woman visits are important for quality care of women and their continued health.”
For more information on well-woman visits, please visit

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014


I am in a complete state of awe, joy, sorrow, amazement, gratefulness and peace.  The woman at the top of this page is my beloved and dearly departed mom.  She goes by Jane.  She brought me into this world on this day 50 years ago.  It breaks my heart that she is not here today as I celebrate a milestone that I thought I would never see.

In this photo we are enjoying lunch at a little place in Ballard (Seattle).    It is called "The Barking Dog".  I remember that day so much because she was so excited to sit outside and get some warmer fresh air.  In Seattle it is not common to enjoy a meal outside because it can be chilly, even in the summer.

Once we got settled onto the patio we talked, laughed and shared a nice lunch.  These simple times with mom and other times with the people I love are what make me happy. 

I am grateful for these moments.  I am grateful for every drop of daylight. Every shimmer of moonlight. I am grateful for every conversation, meal, celebration, cup of coffee, family gathering and chance to say hello. 

I am grateful for every situation that tried my patience and gave me a chance to grow.  I am grateful for every person who made me look at myself and my life and challenge me to be better.  I am grateful for every way that I could contribute and give someone else a reason to smile too.

I am grateful for my family: mom, dad, sister, brother, nieces, nephew, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and all the wonderful friends I have made along the way. I am grateful for my doctors, nurses and support persons.  I am devoted to God.  I have stories to tell about the angels and saints. 

I also am grateful for the chance to be on the Today Show with my mom.  THAT was pretty amazing.  For my sister who rode the Seattle Great Wheel with me.  For my aunt, sister and brother, old boyfriends and Barb for literally plucking me off the ground after surgery to get me to Seattle for chemo.  For countless favors and kind gestures from others to keep me!

My sister especially gave so much of her precious time, of her heart, to be there and do what needed to be done.  All those trips to chemo, hospitals.  Plus helping with mom.  Both she and my aunt stayed with me before I moved to Seattle.  Oh and my brother drove my car to Seattle for me. 

Today I am on maintenance treatment with Avastin and starting a new regemin for my rheumatoid arthtitis, that has gone out of control.  With that I am resting up from the trauma of losing mom.  I am in a much better place than before.  I feel hopeful.  I feel like I am more on purpose.  Even though many things are changing all around me, there are things I am supposed to be doing.  I want to get them done.

I am very excited about what the future can bring. 

I was not actually planning that this post would be this way.  There is lots going on, especially with recent changes in recommendations for gynecological health care exams.  Cancer changes you and everyone around you.

I can write about all that another day.  Mom would want that, she was an activist at heart.

Today my dad called.  I spoke with my sister.  I received cards from my aunt and dad.  I have a special gift from my sister later today.  I am going to be talking with my aunt and brother today. 


I am thrilled to be here to do all of this! I need nothing material.  I just want to give love and be loved.

The little video of the bees was taped at my mom's home.  She had beautiful lavendar bushes. They attracted the most amazingly large and puffy black and white bees.

Mom, until I see you again.....

Thank you God for this day today. 

Love to all.