Beth’s Story

Site created on October 14, 2018

My children and I are using this site to keep family and friends updated on my fight with tubo-ovarian cancer. We appreciate your support , prayers, and words of hope and encouragement throughout this process. Thank you for visiting!

Newest Update

Journal entry by Caroline Fiertz

I am happy to say that, after 40 days at Johns Hopkins, including 19 days in the oncology wing and 21 days in the acute rehab facility, Mom is finally settling in back home. It was quite the roller coaster for Mom to get from leaving her room in the oncology wing to finally walking back through her home's front door, but, with a lot of help from her Hopkins rehab care team, Mom is back to (mostly) feeling like herself.

When Mom left the oncology wing of Johns Hopkins to head to Hopkins' acute rehab center, she was a bit worried about how much progress she would be able to make. In the oncology wing, she had encountered setback after setback in her recovery, and she was struggling with just the basics of moving, walking, eating, and other aspects of caring for herself. When the rehab doctors told Mom that their patients typically stay two-three weeks at most, Mom was floored. How in the world was she going to make the progress she needed to make in such a short amount of time?

The answer to that question: through the support and encouragement of her care team in rehab. Almost every day, Mom had physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. In the beginning, progress was slow. Mom's muscles had lost strength from being in her bed so often in the oncology wing. Also, Mom's core muscles were weakened from her big surgery, which left huge wounds in her entire abdomen area that were initially very slow to heal. After a few setbacks, though, Mom's recovery suddenly began flying by. Within only three days, Mom went from being able to only walk about two hundred feet before needing to sit down to walking laps around the physical therapy gym. Her voice began to grow stronger, and her swallowing began to function safely again, which meant Mom could start eating solid foods once more. The feeling in Mom's fingers began to come back, and her occupational therapist had her practice her dexterity using some cool apps that made her hand exercises more fun. Mom's therapists, doctors, nurses, and specialists were all thrilled and began to consider Mom's discharge plan. Would she go to another rehab facility, or would she go home?

At first, Mom's therapists recommended that Mom go to another rehab facility to continue recovering. At that point, Mom still wasn't super steady on her feet, which meant that she sometimes made unsafe decisions when she was moving around. However, in the days that Mom's caseworker was trying to coordinate with a new rehab facility, Mom made such significant improvement in her recovery that her therapists changed the plan: Mom was going home!

Mom's caseworker scheduled Mom for visits with a home health nurse to help take care of Mom's wound. Additionally, Mom's caseworker also made a plan for Mom to get visits from physical, occupational, and speech therapists to help Mom in continuing in her recovery. With everything scheduled and the plan all set, Mom was finally discharged on her 40th day at Hopkins. Her gynecological oncologist wanted Mom to start chemo right away, so Mom and Chad went straight from being discharged from the Hopkins rehab facility to checking in to the Hopkins outpatient oncology center for the first of Mom's new round of chemo sessions, after which Mom finally came home!

We are so thankful for Mom to be out of the hospital now, but we also know that Mom still has a long recovery journey still ahead of her. She's still building back strength and stamina through physical and occupational therapy. Mom is also now back to her regularly scheduled chemo, slated to be three more sessions happening once every three weeks before a check in, and it could take more than six months for the wound in her abdomen to finally heal. However, we are grateful for an incredible healthcare team, for good insurance, and, of course, for Mom to finally be able to continue healing in the comfort of her own home. Thank you for all of your encouraging thoughts, messages, and prayers, and we'll continue to keep you updated!
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