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9/11/2016 Latest post:
Welcome to my CaringBridge site. I am using it to keep family and friends updated. I appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thanks for visiting. Read my story here.
The Beginning of My Cancer Journey My personal journey with cancer began nearly 10 years ago. In December 2006 I'd just returned to Anchorage after a trip to California when I started to experience severe gastro-intestinal distress. I chalked it up to the recent travel and treated the symptoms with over the counter medications. But the pain persisted, and friends started urging me to see a doctor. I resisted - until the day my belly became extremely distended. That was most certainly unusual for me, so I finally made an appointment to see my regular health care provider. After listening to my symptoms, my provider was about to refer me to an internist, suspecting that I may have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Then she decided to do an internal exam since I was already there with her. As she examined me, she said something you never want to hear your provider say: "uh oh." Then she told me, "I can't find your uterus." Well that confused the heck out of me; after all, where could it go? 😀 Because my provider was an ANP, the clinic's protocols required her to hand me over to the gynecologist on call that day. He was an older man, with a pretty lousy bedside manner. One of the first things he said to me was, "If I didn't know better, I'd say you're 4 months pregnant." (referring to my distended belly). Nice, huh? An ultrasound revealed a large tumor, which had shoved my uterus aside. Surgery would be required to determine whether the tumor was cancerous.
The Diagnosis Because the purpose of the surgery was to determine whether or not cancer was present, the doctor informed me he would be joined in the surgery by the only gynecologic oncologist in Alaska. This woman lived some two hours north of Anchorage, and only came to town every two weeks or so. That meant I had to wait a couple of weeks to have the surgery. Not a fun way to ring in the New Year, knowing you have a big tumor inside you! After the surgery (a complete bilateral hysterectomy), I was told there was "no visible evidence of cancer." Feeling relieved, I went about the work of recovering enough to get out of the hospital. On the day of my release the doctor came in, handed me a Rx for hormones, and told me I had ovarian cancer. A pathologist had discovered the cancer in my left ovary. The doctor gave me a referral to see the oncologist who'd assisted on the surgery and sent me on my way. Because I had the most aggressive cancer cell type, chemotherapy was recommended to ensure no microscopic cancer cells remained inside me. After recuperating for several weeks from the surgery, I endured six rounds of grueling chemo (a whole other story in itself!) and was cancer free for nine years, until....