Maura Ekstrom

First post: 5/10/2016 Latest post: 1/15/2017
As I sit here I really can't believe it.  Still.  When a doctor says, "50/50" shot something in you gets really pissed off.  I mean my fault, I pressed him... but really?  50/50?  Have you met me?  I'm the kind of person that has no problem taking something back to the store without a receipt...with a sly smile on face.  No shame.  Ha.  Now that I am thinking about it maybe he did that to ignite that Irish blood to start bubbling!  Smart man.  Maybe he was saying in his way.  Fight.  Damn right. 

My story starts I guess back in the Fall.  Changing jobs as a paralegal working at the Supreme Court's Office of Lawyer Regulation to the Department of Justice was in a word.  Stressful.  I think us women explain away our bodies whispers by shooing it away as "stress".   My periods would always come every 25 to 26 days.  On the dot.  The only time I was ever late was with Mr. Brocy.  Back to the Fall.  My period was late...going on 40 days.  OMG.  I'm pregnant.  Yayyy.  Only to find the next day not the case.  Weird.  Oh well.  Stress.  Reason that away. 

I started my new job at the DOJ.  My periods became so heavy and clotting that I would leave my office.  It was terrible.  Each month would go by and I would have these extremely heavy periods.  I went in to see my doctor, unfortunately he wasn't available and I saw a Nurse Practitioner.  Big mistake.  She was busy and in a rush.  She did an internal exam and told me she could give me pain pills for my periods.  Thanks. 

A little background.  About 9 years ago after Broc was born I experienced a large ovarian cyst, had surgery had it removed along with my right ovary.  My doctor told me at the time to "watch" your left ovary for cysts and that I may be at a higher risk for ovarian cancer but living with only one ovary is doable and shouldn't cause any problems.  When I went in to see the Nurse Practitioner I explained my history and asked her "should I have an ultrasound?"  She of course said, "not necessary." 

Who knows what it would have revealed if I would of had an ultrasound then, maybe nothing, maybe early stages of cancer.  Push.  Ladies always push and don't take no for an answer.  You know your body...they don't. 

I quit my job a the DOJ due to the stress and started working as a paralegal for the Chief Legal Officer for Fairway Mortgage.  Ahhhhh.  I can breathe.  Stress just melted away.  But wait... March 1st I had a very heavy period.  I'm not stressed.  Whatthe?  Then I had another very light easy period on March 17th.  Now why am I having it so soon?  Weird. 

I love St. Patty's Day.  My Dad always made a fuss of course on this day. Ironic that this period came on March 17th- it was like an alarm went off in me.  Maura.  Go get help!  I called my primary care physician and he scheduled an ultra sound.  THANK GOD! 

I went in on April 1st.  The ultrasound tech was so nice.  We talked about sharing the same OB/Gyn...then she stopped talking while she was maneuvering up in me.  I mean right in mid-sentence.  Stopped.  She started taking measurements.  Shit.  Shit. Shit.  Of course she couldn't give me anything as far as diagnosis...but I knew.  My heart sank.  What is it? 

As I left, she said, "Whatever your doctor tells you remember you are in good hands and we will get you through this."  That night my doctor called me and said, "there's a mass."  Its 13cm, 11cm by 7cm.  Those measurements I know by heart.  They are blazed into my memory like the Capitols of the States that I learned from the nuns at Catholic school.  13x11x7.  "oh, and you will need surgery." 

I went to work on Monday April 4th.  Had pain, went to the ER and they thought the "mass" was starting to torque and twist.  I was transferred to Meriter Hospital. Admitted that night and waited to see my doctor/surgeon the next day.  Next day.  Doctor comes in at 7am talks to me briefly and leaves.  My hospital's bed phone rings at 9:30 its him.  "Maura, surgery is today at 2:30, don't eat anything.  I have the UW Hospital oncology team to assist. It should take about an hour." 

My surgery lasted about 5 hours.  I didn't get back to Jason and my hospital room until 9 at night.  Luckily my oncologist removed the malignant tumor, appendix, the fat layer between your stomach and muscles, lymph nodes in that area, total hysterectomy, my remaining ovary, everything.  I have later found your success rate can depend on who does the surgery...I was in very good hands.  During the surgery they were doing pathology on what they were taking out.  The oncologist said he also lasered areas.  He said cancer feels like sand paper and he did this as a precaution.  Good hands. 

Due to the cancer being on a microscopic level in the lymph nodes they removed I will need chemotherapy.  I had my first last week and another treatment yesterday.  The first one was brutal.  They got me with two different kinds of chemo and it was very hard (fatigue, nausea, flu-like).  Yesterday's treatment was just the one chemo and so far its been o.k.  I have 16 more weeks - every Friday.  On a happy note...I have now reached my goal weight.  Yayyyy!  Humor. Cancer can't take that.

My diagnosis is mucinous cystadenocarcinoma of left ovary.  Before you look this up.  Don't.  I did and was depressed.  Moving on.

So there you have it.  Sorry so long.  This is the last time I'm gonna go through the "clinical" aspects of my disease and diagnosis.  Cancer is more than a medical condition I'm finding.  Its a journey.  A compete spiritual journey.  You see people differently.  You realize there are angels walking around down here on earth.  They are walking around the hospital's ER room, riding in ambulances going slow so you don't feel any bumps, hospital hallways, in your hospital room holding your hair back as you throw up into a plastic bag, and administering chemo while holding your hand and looking in your eyes telling you "you will be just fine." 

You see your family differently.  The love is overwhelming.  I will write more about these experiences.  Uplifting to say the least.

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