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In June of 2017, I experienced a urinary issue that caused me to see my primary care doctor and urologist. While everything checked out to be "normal" according to the urologist, an ultrasound was performed just to make sure there wasn't an issue with my kidneys and bladder. The good news... these organs looked to be fine. The bad news... I had a "moderately large" (8.5cm x 8cm x 6cm) mass on/near my right ovary. While there didn't seem to be much concern by my gynecologist for having it removed, the radiologist was persistent in having it further examined and this eventually led to more testing being done in September. A CA 125 test confirmed it needed to be surgically removed. The level was 499, and while this test doesn't always indicate a true reading of cancer being present, this number was still extremely high.
Before surgery was performed, the gyne oncologist who would be performing the surgery explained the possibility of the tumor being ovarian cancer and ordered a CT scan just to see if there's anything more going on that she needed to know about prior to surgery. So the CT scan was performed and, unfortunately, it showed there were various other nodules, or tumors, of concern... not only in my pelvic area, but also in my abdomen, and chest. If this was truly ovarian cancer, it has already spread to my chest (making it Stage 4). Needless to say, this is when things got scary and so hard to believe. How could I have all this going on inside me and not know it? Other than the urinary issue which prompted all of this (and which went away on its own after a month), I really had no symptoms to cause concern. Makes sense why ovarian cancer is often called the "silent" killer.
Given the CT scan results, the gyne oncologist then ordered a PET scan to be performed which measures the chemical activity. Sure enough, all of the areas that showed up on the CT scan "glowed" in the PET scan. In the oncologist's words, she was "pretty certain" this was ovarian cancer that had spread. But to be sure, a biopsy of one of the tumors was then performed. The biopsy determined this was an ovarian low malignant potential tumor (also known as LMP, or Borderline, tumor). Confusing as this is (because "low malignant potential" doesn't actually mean cancer, right??), it still falls under the "cancer umbrella". So at this point, best case scenario is that all of the tumors are of the same LMP type and do not contain any invasive cancer cells.
A full laparotomy to remove all tumors in my pelvic and abdominal areas was performed in October and all tumors were identified to be LMP... woohoo!! This meant no chemo or radiation treatment was needed. The great news made up for the 9 inch scar! The next surgery to remove the one in my chest was performed in November. While this tumor was identified as being a result of the ovarian LMP tumor that had spread, it was stuck on my sternum and the surgeon could only scrape off about 97% of it. Again, great news about it being LMP... however, this meant we would need to keep an eye on it since a small percentage of it was left. The recommendation from my gyne oncologist was to have routine CT scans every 3 months to keep an eye on it.
In May, the first routine CT scan was done and the results showed regrowth of the tumor that was in my chest. A PET scan then confirmed the tumor and showed additional nodules (in my clavicle/neck area, pelvis, and chest). A biopsy was performed and confirmed this was a recurrence of the ovarian LMP tumor. Again, the good news is that there were no invasive cells found. The bad news... these new nodules weren't behaving like typical LMP tumors which grow slowly. The fact that they appeared in one month raised concern and my gyne oncologist explained that chemotherapy would be the best plan of action, given the behavior and various locations. I will be completing six cycles (each being 3 weeks) of chemotherapy and hopefully will be done with this for good!