On January 6th my mother ended her battle with this monsterous disease. This comes just two months after my Aunt died from Ovarian Cancer.
Please take a moment to listen to your body. If something doesn't seem right, speak to a doctor. If the doctor can't find anything, find another doctor. Most importantly, remember that you have no expiration date. No doctor has a crystal ball. Live your life like there are many tomorrows.
Lisa here, the founder of Destination Dinners. I wanted to share with you why Ovarian Cancer Awareness is so important to me.
As many of you know, I launched Destination Dinners in June of 2006. At that time I was finally two month pregnant after years of trying and I had nothing but excitement and happiness filling my heart. That all began to change just three weeks later when my parents called to tell me that my mother had received medical test results that appeared to be "abnormal".
The test my mother had is called CA 125. It is a simple blood test which checks for a protein that appears due to ovarian cancer. Mom, after reading a small blurb in a woman's magazine about the test, asked her internal medicine doctor to run the test on her. Luckily he obliged her. Most doctors (and insurance companies) refuse requests for the test because unfortunately the test often produces false positives.
To verify the results, mom's gynecologist (who was actually cross with her for requesting the CA 125 test!!) begrudgingly gave my mom a transvaginal ultrasound at which time she confirmed there was something wrong. Exploratory surgery was scheduled. On June 30th, 2006 my world shook to its core. The doctors determined that Mom had Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. The "exploratory" surgery turned into extensive debulking surgery, resulting in the removal of much of her abdominal cavity including her ovaries and about a foot of her bowel. I was devastated, bewildered and desperate for more information. You always hear about breast cancer and even cervical cancer, but not once before then had I heard about ovarian cancer.
|With help from my husband, the internet and my family I soon learned of the grim outlook for stage 3 ovarian cancer survivors. Even more surprising was the fact that there was no better way to detect the cancer than the CA125 test nor was there even a hint of a cure.
Mom immediately decided to face the battle head on with a courage I am still amazed by. With Dad by her side she began intensive chemotherapy at Mass General Hospital. Months of treatments, nausea, complete hair loss, exhaustion and of course the emotional stress for both Mom and Dad, Mom immerged from that hell with a low CA125 result AND in time to arrive in San Francisco just before the birth of their first granddaughter.
I still vividly remember Mom holding the baby gently speaking to her about how she planned to be around for a long time to see her grow up. Then she challenged her to a hair growing contest complaining the baby was starting off with a lead.
Since then Mom spent three years in remission. In July 2009 her CA 125 test came back elevated again leading to yet another round of chemo which once again she faced with unbelievable courage and determination.
Most recently Mom's CA 125 number has started to rise again, getting closer and closer to 35, the highest normal reading. She takes great care of herself, feels wonderful and is completely focused on the future.
Mom finished chemo and immediately hopped a plane with Dad to California to be here for the birth of their only granddaughter.
Since Mom was diagnosed I also learned that my husband's paternal Grandmother was also an ovarian cancer survivor although hers was caught at a very early stage. We know that my Mom does not carry the gene for the cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA 2 - the hereditary gene for ovarian and breast cancers) but we don't know about Grandma and therefore, although it is rare, my daughter may have inherited this deadly disease.
No one in the family, even Mom, suspected she had a medical issue none-the-less cancer when she originally went to the doctor. She never had any of the typical ovarian cancer symptoms. Without the CA 125 test she was lucky enough to hear about and even luckier to have received, she would most likely not be with us now.
Let me simplify it, 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year and 16,000 die from it. Reported cases include girls as young as 5 and as old as 105.
Understanding the symptoms is the first step in battling this cancer. Please take the time to read the list (click here). The second step is to pass the list on to every woman in your life that you care for. Please, help me spread the word so no on else will have a story like mine.
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