Janie Munoz-Tafoya

First post: May 14, 2018 Latest post: Sep 28, 2018
In October 2017, our mother, Janie was diagnosed with Epithelial Ovarian Cancer, stage IIIC.  She had a total hysterectomy, having her uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries removed.  The cancer was also found on her omentum (the lining of her abdomen) and that was removed too, as well as her appendix for good measure, since it was a possibility her cancer could spread there too.   In November 2017, she started Platinum based chemo, of Taxol (given via an IV port in her chest)  and Cisplatin (given via IP, through a port in her abdominal cavity).  Each cycle came with its share of complications.  Her blood pressure would drop incredibly low, her blood sugar was difficult to regulate.  Her hair began to fall, she couldn't eat due to a metallic taste in her mouth, she suffered from neuropathy, which made her mobility unstable and her thinking became cloudy and confused.  With all of this going on she lost a tremendous amount of weight. 

During chemo, she was genetically tested and tested negative for BRCA1 and BRCA2.  This was a panel test and she tested negative for all known cancer genes.  This can be typical of ovarian cancer.  It could be that she has a gene that she inherited that caused the cancer, but it's just not known to the scientific community at this time, or it could be that it was caused due to environment, or a combination of both.  Since my mother has ovarian cancer, there is a slight increase in the likelihood that her female family members can also develop the cancer.  If you are related, please make sure you know the symptoms of this disease.  

After completing chemo at the end of February 2018, we were hopeful she was in remission, however, soon after completing chemo, her abdomen began to fill with ascites (fluid) and she was short of breath, which caused for concern.  These issues were addressed with her oncologist, Dr. Perkins and even though he initially kinda shrugged it off, within a week's time, he was certain the cancer had returned and or had never gone into remission.  Ovarian cancer has a marker, CA 125 which at normal levels is 40 or below.  At the time of surgery, it was at 4,700 and before starting chemo, dropped to around 700.  We came to discover that her CA 125 had not gone below 270 during chemo and was now beginning to increase again.  

After fighting the insurance company for a second opinion in the LA area, she was finally approved.  While we were waiting for her appointment, more tests were run.  A CT was done and two biopsies of the ascites were ran, along with a PET scan.  All have been negative for cancer.  After being seen at the City of Hope, we found out that her kidneys are not functioning properly.  Normal kidney function is at a 1 and hers reads at 1.9.  Her kidneys were probably damaged with chemo, however, we are hopeful that her kidneys aren't permanently damaged and may self repair.  Dr. Cristea (at COH) said she is fairly certain the cancer is causing my mother's abdomen to fill with ascites, however, since we can't physically find the cancer, at this point we must use the process of elimination.  She will see an gastroenterologist to rule out any issues with her liver, she may have an exploratory laproscopic procedure to search for cancer and she will start Topecan to fight the cancer.  We will also have her original tumors from October tested in hopes we'll gain information to fight this disease.  At this point, she is not a candidate for a clinical trial since her kidneys are not functioning properly and there is not a physical tumor to be monitored.  We will continue to seek out clinical trials as new ones become available .  

As of right now, we are in a wait and see period.  This means that more tests are  being ran to see if the cancer has returned.  At one point we were told her care was palliative, to increase quality and length of life.   Then a few weeks later we were told they aren't sure the cancer has returned.  We have found communities of women battling ovarian cancer that are living long and happy lives, making memories with their family and friends for many, many years.  We are hopeful that this will be my mother's case.  Medical advances are rapidly changing in the cancer arena and we hope that if can she can continue to fight, that there may be something on the horizon that can stave off this horrible disease.  

Thank you for coming to this site to find out about our mother's care.  We will update accordingly.  If you want to know what you can do for my mother, please just be supportive.  Let her know you care.  Although, prayers and religion may be therapeutic for you and your family, know that our family is NOT religious or spiritual.  We are a family of Atheists and ask that you refrain from religious comments and  instead send well wishes or positive thoughts in place of them.  Thank you in advance for being respectful of our beliefs. 

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