Uh, I found out I might have Ovarian Cancer. Does this disease deserve the proper noun? Yes, I think it does.
My great mate Tina died of Ovarian Cancer in 2011, surrounded by family and friends. It truly is a silent killer, and I sit here hoping that I did not just get pushed to the top of the queue.
As an act of pure self indulgence, I intend to chart my journey though this particular hell. Perhaps it will help some other unsuspecting woman with spare parts.
On or about February this year, I went to my regular GP about something else, possibly my dry mouth (which I put down to aging), and as a “by the way” type pop-up idea (which often happens to menopausal me), I asked the doctor to refer me to a gyno to look at the possibility of getting my ovaries out. I had a hysterectomy in 2006, and the remaining lady parts were always meant for eviction; I was waiting until my Hellish Menopause was just about over. I had stopped most of the symptoms of menopause, so I thought it time to get these spare parts out, due to losing a cherished mate with OC some years before.
As I recall, I attended the offices of a gyno and yes, she found that I had a cyst on my right ovary and that they could be taken out. I asked whether she worked in the public hospital and when the answer was in the negative, I asked for a referral to the public system. I don’t have private health cover, because the managed fund I used for such an emergency disappeared in the crash of 2008, so I went public with this one. Not sensing any urgency, I presented myself at the Mater Brisbane who decided to do a scan, on or about March of this year. They discovered a 2.5 cm cyst on my right ovary at that time, with a follow up scan due in July.
The scan in late July told a different story. The simple cyst on the right ovary had changed to
“Right Ovary – two lesions – 1. Solid mass with peripheral and internal vascularity, 3 cm was 2.5 cm. 2. Mixed solid and cystic, peripheral vascularity, 2 cm.”
My Left Ovary, perhaps in sympathy with her sister on the Right, had the following to say for herself: Left Adnexa (which means in the vicinity of):
“New large cystic structure that extends across midline, appears to exert mass effect therefore likely a cystic lesion rather than free fluid. 5 cm. Not definitely seen to arise from left ovary which is otherwise normal”
I was summoned for an appointment in mid August, for a chat to the regular gyno (a chap from Toronto, Ontario) who advised me that surgery would be recommended. I heartily agreed. It seemed to me and my husband at the time that he was hesitant to tell me that my lady parts had to be taken out. I was prepared to fight for the removal of my ovaries and tubes, but did not have to go to battle.
Surgery was scheduled for early September, but alas the oncologists were consulted and it was decided that I had to wait for surgery until late September so that the Oncologist team could do the surgery. It was the vascularity what did it. The waiting was alarming me, and despite my better judgement I DID Bing “vascularity ovary” and up popped “Ovarian Cancer” like some ethereal web based Grim Reaper. I was officially worried now.
I recall that on the 23 of August, I decided to tell my sister about this diagnosis, and she offered to pray for me. I am blessed beyond belief. And I am on GraceTime. I have enjoyed my life, and have two step children and two ‘grand children’ to whom I am “Grauntie“. I love them dearly, and they have filled my life where it was empty. I will write later about how Feminism caught me at a vulnerable age, and thus was partly responsible for my cavalier attitude towards having my own children. Yes, Feminism IS Cancer. Thanks, Milo.
Water Fasting – attempt to at least put these cysts and neoplasms on notice that they were being ruthlessly evicted. No, I am not a doctor, and so disclaim that, haters.
Aside from my sister’s prayers, I did some research as to what I could possibly do to make the surgeon’s work a bit easier, and I found that water fasting may be able to at least remove some toxins and help with autophagy which is a two dollar word for the body getting rid of its rubbish (like cysts, cancer cells etc). I found this video and Dr Thomas Seyfried (Ph D) fairly compelling, so on the 29th of August, I embarked on a fast.
I have no idea of whether Dr Seyfried is right, of course, but what he says makes some sense to me.
Dr Jason Fung in Canada is also an inspiration in regard to intermittent fasting.
Water fasting was a fantastic experience for me. My body fed off of my significant fat stores until 11th of September when I broke the fast with some homemade tomato juice. I put too much Tabasco sauce in, but it wasn’t bad. I am still on broth and soft proteins and vegetables and breaking a fast is very important.
Amazon Tonic III – an attempt to use herbal extracts from the Ecuadorian Rain Forest to help annoy these lesions.
I had ordered the tonic from a trusted source in Ecuador. These products are not approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Association, so I am not allowed to recommend them; all I can do is say that I am taking a daily dose of this stuff, and pray for the best. I order the Tonic on the 24th of August, so did not waste much time. I have used another of their products for skin cancers and therefore was familiar with the way it worked. The Tonic arrived in my mailbox on Wednesday.
So here I am, with another week to go until Surgery at which all will be revealed. I am a bit anxious and perhaps writing this story will alleviate some of that existential angst. We all have to be ready to die. Nobody gets out of here alive, but I did not wish to jump to the front of this queue.
I did go and see a Naturopath in the city, but that was a complete waste of time. It is difficult to find someone to supervise a water fast, but I did it, and felt it was something I would try again. There is a mob in NSW who supervise fasts, but they could not recommend anyone local.
So I wait. I don’t Google any more. I can’t. I mustn’t. I won’t.
I feel better for doing what I believe I can, to help make the cancer surgeon’s job a bit easier. I have no idea of what they will find.
I must recount my visit with the gyno cancer surgeon. His bedside manner is atrocious so I know he is the right man for the job.
A week ago, I went in for preadmission. They weigh you in public. With your clothes on. And shoes. They ask you all manner of questions. And when I indicated that I did not want a midline incision (that is a vertical scar from navel to pubis) the surgeon looked at me like I had put a knife into HIM. He told me that they really had to have permission to do this, in case they could not get my lady parts via keyhole surgery. I just told him as nicely as I could that if they had to cut me open like that, then I was pretty much stuffed anyway, and that they please go through the existing hysterectomy scar to get them, rather than a vertical cut on my abdomen. So he said “So basically your instruction is that should a midline incision be required, we are to abandon surgery“. I paused for a brief moment and said “Yes“. So he wrote in on the form and I duly signed the consent.
My dear husband sat there and could not believe I would take on the surgeon.
Time will of course tell, but I am happy with the consent form.
I will update this post as I go. That tonic tastes terrible. I had to reduce the dose so as not to throw up.
I have used this time to do things I have always wanted to do. I ordered vintage Levis 501s off of e-bay. They fit! Yes! And they look great! I don’t know if other women my age shop for jeans but you can’t buy vintage or traditional jeans any more. They are all stretch denim which I consider to be horrid.
I asked my husband to help me into a gorgeous pink dress I had found online. It fits! Yessss! Winning. I used to have to put on a corset to get into it, but now it fits unaided with whalebone and ribbon.
UPDATE 16 Sept – just gave six vials of blood as requested, to prepare for surgery. I noticed that I bled from the needle site more than usual. Maybe the Tonic is causing that? All the more important to quit the Tonic tomorrow as instructed by both the hospital and the herbalist.
UPDATE 17 Sept – we went to have breakfast; I had a small meal as I am on the last day of transitioning from the Water Fast (Transfaster?). My DH reminds me that my CA-125 levels are low (they are), that my HE-4 levels are low (they are) and that I have a better than average chance of this not being anything more than benign. Still, I have flashes of what it might be like to be told bad news. I feel “pulling” in the vicinity of my Right One, and this has been more evident since taking the Tonic. So I did the only thing I could do. I bought some cotton yarn and have started knitting some dishcloths. I am out and have been meaning to get to Spotlight to get some of the Lionbrand Kitchen Yarn. It knits up well. I have almost finished my first cloth.
I have quit taking the Tonic, as instructed. And I can now do nothing more than wait, hoping that 3 or 4 days of Tonic will do its bit to round ’em up and point ’em to the nearest exit.
UPDATE 19 September – DH is home with me now. I get chest pain when walking any distance now so am not keen to do the normal shopping. The hospital took a chest Xray but can’t tell me the results until Doctor. I do not know whether the chest pain is linked to the masses on my ovaries. If it is, I am stuffed. I know the chest pain is not due to atherosclerosis. My arteries are clear. Cop that, butter bashers!! I am just waiting until surgery. Four more sleeps.
UPDATE 20 September – I am so ovary this. I just hope that the quack can get my ovaries and all the jewelry attached to them out via keyhole surgery. Three more sleeps. DH cuddles me at night. He recorded me snoring like a train the other night because I didn’t think I snored. Lol.
Forgot to tell you that my arteries were cleared of any crime at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. That facility is like the bar scene out of Star Wars. And that is just the staff, not the patients. I hope to never go there again.
UPDATE 22 September 16
Tomorrow morning I am scheduled to be admitted to hospital. My ovaries are on their last day of residence. I must say I am looking forward to waking up after surgery and finding out what the diagnosis is. If the diagnosis is OC, then the Amazon Tonic will be the treatment of choice. I can’t quite run at chemo or radiation. I hope they can get everything via keyhole. Gah. I won’t keep you waiting. As soon as I know, you will know.
UPDATE – 23 September 16
Surgery this morning required double time because of adhesions – another two dollar word for scars – due to previous hysterectomy. Immediately prior surgery, on the slab, the assistent surgeon told me that going through the existing hysterectomy scar would not give them sufficient access. I reiterated my position to her. If they had to open me up like a stuck pig, abandon surgery. It was right that she checked and I appreciate her brutal beside manner. Just after this exchange, she walked out to talk to the the lead surgeon and he breezed in a moment later. He was the thinnest man I have ever seen and would be toppled in a stiff breeze. He asked me if I had any questions? I said “No”. That was it. One look in his eyes, and I knew I was in good hands. Am I lucky or what?
I woke up to the news that surgery was difficult and long but it looks like they got it all. Tests will take another two weeks.
I am back home now and am feeling better every day. Bladder works. Bowels yet to announce. Feelings of relief have been replaced with tired. My pink abdomen has now been washed!
I will be taking the Amazon Tonic III to finish, just to be sure. It can’t hurt.
UPDATE 25 September 2016 – feeling much better. Bladder working overtime, bowels working, and tummy still looks like a beach ball with holes in it. Yes, they did the surgery the way I wanted, because to my thinking if the cancer had spread already, it wasn’t worth the effort to take the ovaries and tubes out. I had no idea that adhesions were even a thing. I can’t roll over on my side or get up and down easily. Try bending over to put on shoes. Ugh. I feel very lucky and have now started the Amazon Tonic III dosage to ensure that any rogue cancer cells can be dealt with (hopefully). Forgot to ask a few things of the surgeons who came to visit me (there were three of them). I forgot to ask whether my CA-125 and HE-4 were elevated in the blood samples taken prior to surgery. I also forgot to ask if the adhesions are likely to come back. Other than that, we just have to wait until two Mondays after next to find out what the lab results are.
I can’t even wear my yoga pants because they are too restrictive. I was not prepared for this much swelling. But it has gone down over night, and hopefully will subside in the next few days.
I did google the operation I just had, and it scared me, so I stopped reading about it. I will leave it to the experts.
UPDATE 15 October 2016
It has been a long wait for the laboratory results. I was told on the day of surgery that “they got it all” and that even though the ovaries were inflamed, the provisional result on the day could not call cancer or not. So both DH and I thought that I would be clear of cancer. Both wrong. I have been diagnosed with “at least Stage II Ovarian Cancer” because of cancer cells found on my ovaries and in the pelvic wash. The surgeon has recommended a contrast CT scan, which he expects to be clear. Uh, where have we heard that before? Anyway I am going through with the CT scan on Monday, with results likely a week later. If my innards look okay, then the surgeon will recommend oncology, which I will heed, but likely decline. If my innards look like there are more tumours there, the surgeons will recommend more surgery which I will decline.
I will put a new post up, pinned to the top of the blog to chart my own journey through the wilderness.