As LaRue Countians prepare for the annual Relay for Life Event scheduled for May 15 at Hodgenville Elementary School, the local Relay for Life County Committee is focusing on local survivor stories. This is the third of eight stories.
I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer at age 39 in April 2005.
I had been to the doctor in March 2005, treated once for irritable bowel syndrome, and again for acid reflux; however, my symptoms were persisting and finally my bladder dropped. My doctor told me women who have given birth multiple times sometimes experience their bladder dropping. I was seen the following day by a surgeon who discovered the mass within me. That was early in the week. By the end of the week, I had followed up with a CT scan, a trip to a local gynecologist, who referred me to the Brown Cancer Center on Friday. I was admitted to the hospital on that visit, and the following Tuesday, after undergoing another CT scan and several other tests, I underwent surgery to remove the mass by debulking and a complete hysterectomy. Surgery was followed with six aggressive chemotherapy treatments. I finished my chemotherapy and was in remission by late summer. I then returned to my position at The LaRue County Herald News.
In June 2007, I was diagnosed with a recurrence. After two previous biopsies showed no cancer, I had some areas that continued to grow, and upon major surgery again, pathology reports revealed the areas were indeed cancer. I again was to follow up with six rounds of chemotherapy, somewhat different from the prior treatment in 2005. I was to begin receiving Cisplatin through an abdomen port, however, I had a serious infection and removal of the abdomen port followed. I then continued treatment two through four with Taxol and Carboplatin; however, after serious allergic reaction to Carboplatin, treatment five and six were Taxol only. Again, my treatments were successful, and I returned to work at The LaRue County Herald News.
At my diagnosis in 2005, I had just celebrated my one-year wedding anniversary to my husband and partner of 12 years, Davy. My children, Brittany a junior in high school and Brandon, a sophomore in high school lived with us as well. My stepdaughter, Jodi Brooks, brought her two young daughters to our house and took care of getting my children to school and work during the time I was hospitalized, as well as taking care of her own family. My immediate family, as well as extended family and friends and church family, played a huge part in my recovery. My mom kept the peanut butter pies coming and my mother-in-law would often cook my favorite chicken and dumplings (to make sure I stay nourished during my treatments). Other family members, co-workers, friends, and church family brought over meals during the course of my treatments. My sister-in-law and another family member gave my Neulasta shots the 24 hours following my chemotherapy in 2007.
In my opinion, being surrounded by my loving family and friends played a huge role in my recovery.
I am so blessed in that I’ve seen my two children, who have become young adults, graduate from high school. For a bleak moment in 2005, I thought I would never get to see that, but the outpouring of prayers and the love and support shown to me by family and friends has been such a blessing.
Without prayer and being able to attend church every Sunday and ask for God’s healing, I don’t think I would be here to share this story with you today. Treasure every day as a blessing, because we never know what tomorrow may bring.
Most importantly, and speaking from experience, yearly gynecologist exams are a must for women. And, if you have any symptoms, I would recommend you talk with your doctor about performing a CA-125 test, in addition to your yearly pap smear. Some insurance companies don’t pay for this test, but it’s a small price to pay if you have any other symptoms, i.e., bloating. I also would suggest to anyone who will be receiving treatment with chemotherapy in which they may lose their hair to go ahead and trim your hair, and when you actually start losing your hair, go ahead and shave your head for comfort. The hair will grow back; I’ve lost my hair twice, so I speak from experience. Losing my hair was not the issue, treating the cancer and remission was the goal.