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Ovarian Cancer Survivors

Discussion in 'Cancer Survivors and Loved Ones' started by trukinlady, Aug 22, 2010.

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  1. trukinlady

    trukinlady Resting In Peace ECF Veteran

    Feb 24, 2010
    Missouri, USA
    Hello all;

    I just wanted to share a little about my fights with cancer. It has been a hard journey, but I thank God I'm still here to tell about it! I've survived cancer 3 times in my lifetime. I lost my leg at age 3, had breast cancer at age 35, and ovarian cancer 20 months later at age 37.

    This thread--and in fact, the entire survivors group--is for anyone: survivor, caregiver, family member, friend who would like to share their experiences, thoughts, triumphs, or just vent. As we survivors know, it truly helps to talk to someone who has been through what we have. Our caregivers are the most wonderful people, too! Here's a little of my experience.

    I had just been through a fight with breast cancer. I had numerous infections and complications from the surgeries, and reconstructions. In one year, I needed four surgeries to correct the problems. I thought the worst was over.

    I had been feeling pain in my lower left side for a few months. I thought it was my colon acting up from all of the chemo I'd had. (I had the Red Devil concoction for the breast cancer! My lifetime limit.)

    On one occasion about 8 months after my surgery, I was standing in the doctor's office after a check up on the breast reconstruction, and I felt the worst pain start in my lower abdomen! It hurt so badly, I had to hold on to the edge of the receptionist's desk to keep from falling down. I guess I hid the pain well, because nobody noticed anything wrong. After a few minutes, the pain went away, so I didn't mention it to the nurse. (Looking back, I should have.)

    About 10 days later, I was in my Primary Physician's office and told him about it. He examined me and it was painful. He ordered an ultrasound, and a hemorrhagic ovarian cyst was found. From the ultrasound, it seemed to be blood filled, which isn't uncommon, I'm told. My Dr. monitored it, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. It looked, and acted like a common cyst. But after four more ultrasounds, it was getting larger. So I went to a Gynecologist who told me it would have to be removed.

    Exactly 1 year to the day I finished my chemo from the breast cancer, I underwent surgery to remove the ovarian cyst. The surgery was started with a laparoscope, but when the surgeon saw the condition of my abdomen, he put in an emergency page to the gynecologic oncology surgeon.

    (I'll finish this in the next post.)

    Copyright 2010
     
  2. trukinlady

    trukinlady Resting In Peace ECF Veteran

    Feb 24, 2010
    Missouri, USA
    Hello,

    Exactly 1 year to the day I finished my chemo from the breast cancer, I underwent surgery to remove the ovarian cyst. The surgery was started with a laparoscope, but when the surgeon saw the condition of my abdomen, he put in an emergency page to the gynecologic oncology surgeon.

    Part 2:

    When the Gyn Oncology surgeon examined my abdomen, he immediately knew I would need a total hysterectomy. I had discussed the remote (or so I thought) possibility of hysterectomy with the other surgeon, but I had no idea cancer was even considered. It was my wish to keep my childbearing abilities at all cost. I hadn't had any children yet, but how I wanted to!!
    The surgeon did the hysterectomy, and immediately sent the biopsies to the lab. It came back cancer. Stage IIIC.

    I woke up in my room and my husband told me it was cancer. I don't remember anything after that until a couple of days later. I was transferred to another floor of the hospital. Ironically, the baby nursery was just down the hall from my new room.

    I spent 9 days in the hospital due to my incision becoming infected. (I had 10 surgeries in 4 years, and all but the two others done at a different hospital became infected.) I was sent home and the doctor made arrangements for home health care nurses to visit me 3 times a day to change my dressings.

    I had a 4-inch deep tunnel from the surface of my skin down to the muscle.
    It stubbornly refused to heal, and my chemotherapy couldn't be delayed, so I began the chemo 2 months after my surgery. The chemo caused even more complications, but I had to wait until at least 6 weeks after chemo before the doctor could surgically remove the infection and the tissue around the tunnel. So, 9 months after my hysterectomy, the doctor was finally able to do the surgery. At the same time, he also had to repair a grapefruit sized hernia at the incision site. (That is yet another story to tell in another post! It went on for 6 years.)

    Throughout all of the experiences I had, there were times I just wanted to give up. But I thank God I didn't. He brought me through everything, and my faith is stronger for it! As hard as it was to deal with, I knew there were others who were going through worse than what I was. So, I felt I had no right to complain. I'm just thankful God brought me through it all!

    I'll save the rest for another post.

    I'm writing a book about my experiences. Maybe it will help others who are or have gone through it. I truly hope it does.
    Copyright 2010
     
  3. trukinlady

    trukinlady Resting In Peace ECF Veteran

    Feb 24, 2010
    Missouri, USA
    Hi again;

    So, 9 months after my hysterectomy, the doctor was finally able to do the surgery. At the same time, he also had to repair a grapefruit sized hernia at the incision site. (That is yet another story to tell in another post! It went on for 6 years.)
    Part 3

    After having my hernia repair done in June 2002, my abdomen finally healed without more complications--or so I thought!

    I almost didn't know how to react to having my body whole again. I was finally able to return to work after 13 months off. I was itching to get back to driving over the road with my husband again!

    After working part time during my breast cancer chemo treatments the year before, I was so run down, I had no reserves left. I would have a chemo treatment, and then be off for the next several days. Then I would drive for 2 weeks, and then take my next chemo. I had a treatment every 3 weeks. I think that is part of the reason I had so many complications with my abdomen. I exhausted myself by working too much. But a blessing in disguise came out of my part time driving. I re-gained full range of motion in my arm. Since then, I've never had any problems, Thank God!

    So, the next four years were fairly good. After I quit driving the semi in 2004 because of arthritis, I took a part time job--in February 2006--at a fast food place where I'd worked before I started driving. At first, it seemed I could handle the job physically, as long as I was able to sit down periodically. (I couldn't sit for long periods any more, or be on my feet a long time either. I have arthritis in my lower spine, and my "good" knee.) The original surgeon who had done my hernia repair had placed mesh within my abdominal muscles to prevent another hernia, so I felt safe to do moderate lifting at work.

    But just a few months into the job, my abdomen started hurting me again. At first, I thought I had just pulled a muscle like I'd done before. My muscles would become rigid, and the pain was almost unbearable. Then my abdomen started to swell up. It actually looked like I was 7 months pregnant! I went to my Doctor who took one look and sent me to the ER. I was admitted with an abscess at the original incision site (from my hysterectomy/hernia surgeries 4 years prior.)

    I underwent emergency surgery, and the surgeon drained 2 liters of fluid from my abdomen. He also had to remove the infected tissue surrounding the abscess. It turned out to be MRSA. (The staph infection that's resistant to most antibiotics.) I was transferred to the Skilled Nursing Unit, put in isolation, and I was given an IV antibiotic called Vancomycin. I was there for an entire month. After the Doctor was certain the infection was gone, he released me to go home.

    The first question I asked the Doctor was how those bacteria could be inside my abdomen--in a closed environment--for 4 years! The second was why it took that long to materialize. The Doctor didn't have any answers. He was as perplexed as I was.

    Little did I know I was in for another surprise 18 months after this latest surgery. The Doctor found out what was causing the infection after all.

    Continued in next post.
    Copyright 2010
     
  4. trukinlady

    trukinlady Resting In Peace ECF Veteran

    Feb 24, 2010
    Missouri, USA
    Please feel free to post on this thread! I hope there are others who might want to share their own experiences!
     
  5. Nighthawk

    Nighthawk Super Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 4, 2010
    Southeast Texas
    All I can say is, wow. You are an amazingly strong woman! Yes, infections can hide and tunnel for years like that. You are very blessed that it got found in time. (((hugs)))
     
  6. trukinlady

    trukinlady Resting In Peace ECF Veteran

    Feb 24, 2010
    Missouri, USA
    Thank you for the hugs, Nighthawk! Back to you! (((hugs)))
     
  7. trukinlady

    trukinlady Resting In Peace ECF Veteran

    Feb 24, 2010
    Missouri, USA
    The first question I asked the Doctor was how those bacteria could be inside my abdomen--in a closed environment--for 4 years! The second was why it took that long to materialize. The Doctor didn't have any answers. He was as perplexed as I was.

    Little did I know I was in for another surprise 18 months after this latest surgery. The Doctor found out what was causing the infection after all.



    It took me nearly 3 months to recover from the surgery, and complications. I was slow to heal, and I was very concerned about being able to do any lifting at all. My job at the time required lifting, and I wanted to be sure I was healed before returning to work. I did light duty for a while, but then I was able to return to full duty in October of 2006.

    Things were fine--for a while. But 18 months later, in January 2008, I started having more problems with my abdomen--again. It started to swell up like the last time, only this time there was an actual spot where my abdomen opened up. The hole was about the diameter of a nickel. Right near where my belly button used to be. (My belly button was removed during the hernia repair.) Thankfully, it didn't go as deep as before.

    I went back to the Doctor, and he needed to do another surgery to drain the infected fluid from my abdomen. This time he removed a 2-inch square piece of the original mesh placed during my hernia repair.

    That is where the MRSA originated. The mesh was contaminated.

    I was stunned! I had no idea something like that was even possible! I was again admitted to the Skilled Nursing Unit in isolation, and put on IV antibiotics for 2 weeks this time.

    The Doctor also had a wound pump attached to help remove and drain any fluid unseen that may have been left in there. That was one of my most painful experiences whenever the packing around the tube needed to be changed. Of course, the nerve endings are at the surface of your skin, and I truly dreaded seeing the nurses come into my room! I have a low tolerance for pain anyway.

    I was finally sent home to recover. This time I ended up quitting my job. I couldn't handle the physical demands. My arthritis was acting up with a vengeance as well in several of my joints.

    Today, I'm doing better. I don't know if I'll ever have more problems with my abdomen. I'll cross that bridge if I come to it.

    Through all of these experiences, I thank God! He brought me through everything, when by rights the infection should have ended my life, it was that severe. He has a purpose for my being here. Perhaps it is so others can see His Grace at work. God is great, and I thank Him every day I'm still here!

    Copyright 2010
     
  8. Nighthawk

    Nighthawk Super Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 4, 2010
    Southeast Texas
    Amen! Just think how much courage you are going to lend others reading about your expereinces! Everyone needs hope to face the fight and you can give them that! You go girl!
     
  9. trukinlady

    trukinlady Resting In Peace ECF Veteran

    Feb 24, 2010
    Missouri, USA
    I wouldn't be anywhere without God's Grace. I've survived things that by rights should have killed me, literally. I'm finally starting to realize what purpose He has for my life, and I know He will give me His strength and protection to see it through.
     

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