OVCA at 31
Sometimes it seems like a blur, all that led up to my being diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer at age 31. In 1999, at age 27, I gave birth to my second child. Due to breastfeeding, I did not have a period for the first six months after giving birth to my daughter. When I finally did have a period, it was only for three days, rather than my usual six, and it was very light. I also had to urinate frequently, and the doctor said that I did not test positive for a urinary tract infection, but gave me antibiotics anyway, which did not help. I told my gyn about my short periods, and he said that I was too young to go through menopause. Around that time, my two second cousins tested positive for the BRCA1 gene that can cause ovarian and breast cancer. They both had breast cancer and had the surgeries for that and also preventative hysterectomies. I petitioned my doctor for the test, but was turned down and given a mammogram instead. Looking back, there were so many symtoms that I had, so many times when I could have been diagnosed if doctors had just paid a little more attention, or if I had pushed them a little more. My stomach began to swell up, I had vomiting and diarrhea attacks that came and went, I was tired, and I had back pain and pain down my legs. I went to the doctor, but was told I was too young to have anything serious going on. I was busy with my two children and going back to school, which also distracted me as I became more ill. When the pains down both sides of my stomach began, and I began to not be able to eat anything besides toast and oatmeal, I finally knew I had to go back to the doctor and push for answers. On Valentine's Day, 2003, I finally was given an order for an ultrasound. I honestly never thought that I would have anything more than a cyst or IBS(which I had one doctor told me that I had). When the tech looked very upset and called in others to take a look, I knew that it was serious. They were not allowed to tell me what was wrong, but told me to come back in later for a transvaginal ultrasound. My doctor called me on the phone later, and said,"I'm not gonna lie. I think it is cancer." My high CA 125 confirmed this diagnosis, and on March 20, 2003, during my university's spring break, I had my surgery done. I was diagnosed with stage 3c ovarian cancer, with some spread to my intestines and one lymph node. When I woke up, I could not believe the news. I had chemo a few weeks later, platinum and taxol for six treatments. My medical group did not have a gyn-onc, so I my surgery had been performed by a gyn with an onc surgeon standing by, and my onc had little experience with ovca. When I wanted to have twelve additional taxol treatments for maintainance, I wound up having to switch groups to get the care I needed and to get the additional treatment.
Right now, I am thankful for each day, and am focused on my husband and children, my religion, ovca advocacy, and my hobbies. For a long time, I was focused on the "could've, should've, would've" of my experience, but I am learning to let go of it. One thing I have learned is to be my own advocate with doctors. It is tough to be young and fighting this, but all the great women on this board give me courage.
Twisted Sister, Stage 3C ovarian cancer