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The Day my Life Changed

Posted on July 27 2015

Seven years ago at the age of 54 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Type B Ovarian cancer. The prognosis was not good but thank God doctors don't know everything. I was told I had 6 months (at worst) to 3 years (at best). I told the nurse I didn't have time to die because I had young grandkids to help raise. After my husband and I got home from the hospital (on our 24th wedding anniversary)he started doing some research since neither of us knew anything about the disease. All we really knew was that at Stage 3 any cancer needs to be taken seriously. After I got to feeling better I started doing research on my own. Needless to say what I found out about the disease was scary and discouraging. If I hadn't already been scared everything I learned would have scared me senseless. I met 2 other ladies in my area that had been diagnosed with oc and was surprised to learn how little people knew about the disease. I shouldn't have been considering that I myself knew nothing about it. I have no family history so I didn't know if this was something that was in my family or not. I made it through chemo with minimal difficulties. Three years after I completed chemo my oncologist retired and I seriously considered not finding another one. After thinking about it awhile and knowing I hadn't yet been given a clean bill of health I went ahead and found another one. The first thing the new oncologist did was order a BRCA test which had never been done. It came back negative for which I was thankful because I have a younger sister that I was concerned about. Knowing that she was not at risk due to genetics was a big relief. As it was, about that time she was diagnosed with MS. Again with no family background we were concerned as she has three sons. During my chemo treatments I got brave and did something completely out of character for me. I went to the three local newspapers and one local radio station and did interviews about OC. My first one was timed at the beginning of October-which is breast cancer month- because I didn't find out til too late in September that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. For the next three years I did interviews at the beginning of September. The number one question I was always asked was: What advice would you give women about this disease? After discussing the symptoms I always said "Know your body and what is normal and abnormal for you. Be your own advocate and don't take no for an answer. Change doctors if you have to but no one can know your body as well as you do. I didn't know the symptoms and looking back I realize that I ignored the few I did have. The symptoms for this disease are not consistent and glaring so they are often mistaken. That is why only you can really know what is abnormal for you. I saw my oncologist in February because I had had a change in my CA125 results. While they were still in the safe zone I was concerned because they hadn't moved in 6 years and suddenly jumped 5 points. My oncologist informed me that if I hadn't had a recurrence within the first 3 years I more than likely would not have any. Statistically that may be true but in reality it isn't. While I am thankful everyday that I am doing well I am far from secure that I am completely cured. Ovarian cancer has been called the silent killer because at one time it was thought to have no symptoms and there is no specific test for it. It is often misdiagnosed and not found except while looking for other health issues. You hear the term "band of brothers" connected to military groups; I think all ovarian cancer survivors should consider ourselves as "band of sisters".

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