May 10, 2005

My First Recurrance

The statistics said I would have a recurrance. I just didn't think it would be this soon. The blood test says I'm having a recurrance, I was still hoping for more time. The doctor says I'm having a recurrance, I still want more cancer free time.

These last 6 months off chemo have been wonderful. I am feeling like my old self again. I feel so good and have more energy than I've had in a year. Now what? I will have to start chemo all over again. I have a CT scan next week. and then I see my oncologist. The roller coaster starts again. Will this time cure my cancer? Will anything cure ovarian cancer? I don't know and neither do the doctors. The doctors give it their best shot and work so hard and many times have a lot of success, or is it just luck? Faith in God and faith in my doctors will get me through. That and a lot of help from my friends.

I will continue to fight for my life. I owe it to myself and my family. I will survive. I will beat this. Cancer will never win!

Posted by Lee Mason at 5:03 PM | Comments (6)

April 26, 2005

The Good Parts of Cancer

When I was first told that I had cancer, I thought it was the worst thing in the world I could ever hear. I thought I would be dying soon, that I would miss seeing my daughters grow up, graduate from college, get married or have grandchildren. I would not get to grow old with my husband or accomplish all I had planned. There are some days that I still feel that way, but not as often. Slowly I was given hope that I could beat this thing and survive. My life would forever change, but I had a purpose and a reason to fight. The fact that ovarian cancer tends to reccur so often, is scary. I am living with that fear now as my tumor count rises. I have so much love and support that I know I will get through this. I'm not saying that I don't get down and I do indulge in an occasional pity party, and I do cry, okay sometimes I sob! What really wears me down is fear and worry. I am learning to manage the fear. I have such a great medical team helping me fight this and that helps the worry. The more I learn, the better I feel. Not because what I am learning is especially good news, but for me, I cope better knowing as much as possible. That wasn't always the case. When I was first diagnosed and had surgery, I didn't want to know much. I had to be told in small bits and pieces what was happening to me or I couldn't cope. After I regained some strength, I felt I had to know it all. But what I want to tell you is the good that has come from having cancer.

I had heard people say that they would not change having cancer because of all they have learned from it. At first I though, "you've got to be kidding! I would give this all up in a heart beat." I must admit on my low days I still feel that way. And then I think about how I have changed and I am glad I was given this opportunity to see the world in a different light. It may sound like a cliche, but I do see the beauty in each day, people are even more important than before and I am truely glad to wake up each day. I am a much nicer person now, of course that is with my daily dose of antidepressant! (That's my secret weapon.) I am more patient now, maybe from waiting in waiting rooms forver, nothing is as urgent as it was before. I am much kinder to myself now. I even treated myself to my first pedicure last week and didn't even feel guilty about it.

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Posted by Lee Mason at 7:06 PM

April 25, 2005

What is a CA125 and why does it rule my life?

A CA125 is a tumor marker for ovarian cancer. A tumor marker is a chemical given off by cancer cells which can be picked up in a blood test. The level of the marker goes up as the cancer grows. The problem is that in some women with ovarian cancer, the CA125 level does not become elevated at all. This test is best used after a diagnosis of cancer has been made to help confirm the diagnosis. It can be used as a tool to diagnose ovarian cancer, but not as the only test. It is best used in a series, as a trend going up or down tells more than the number in only one test. For example, after the CT scan showed I had a tumor, I had a CA125 run. My level was 360. Normal was up to 35. After the surgery I had another CA125 done and my count was down to 35! Yipee!!!! The surgery removed most of the tumors. I was 95% free of cancer and they were relying on the chemo to get the rest. After one chemo treatment, my CA125 went down to 12, the next was 4, and the following tests throughout chemo were all between to 3.3 to 3.8. That was always such good news to get. The downward trend was showing that the chemo was working and destroying all those nasty cancer cells. Mutiple testing is also referred to as sequence testing. After chemo ended, I had a CA125 done every month for three months. I also had a CT scan done one month after chemo and it showed no cancer. Then I had another scan done two months after chemo. Still no sign of anything. All following CA125's were stable in the 3.3 range. It was decided that I could go three months without a CA125. Wow, was that scary. I was so used to being followed so closely and having treatment, that I felt like I was being deserted when it all stopped. Mentally it was very hard to go without seeing the doctors every week. At my 3 month CA125, my count was starting to rise. I had a doctors appointment the following week and another CA125 was done. The lab also reinstrumented their equipment and now the new normal level is only up to 16.3. They decided to do another CA125 because my last test rose to 12.3. After one week, my new level was 15.9. The first Monday in April I had another CA125

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Posted by Lee Mason at 5:41 PM | Comments (3)

April 24, 2005

My Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

The time leading up to my diagnosis of cancer was quite a long time. I had been having problems with gas and bloating and my bowels. The year before I was diagnosed, I really should have known something was wrong. I was so very tired all the time, no matter how much sleep I got. I would wake up tired, take naps and still be tired. I though it could be turning 50. Then I thought maybe it was the extra weight that had sneaked up on me. SO, I went on a diet and lost 30 pounds. I still did not feel better and I still looked and felt tired. Towards the end, I was not eating because I could not go to the bathroom and was losing more weight. Then one day I felt a mass at my waist. I went to the doctor's. That was in September 2004. My doctor started running tests and nothing was showing up. It wasn't until Dec. that she ordered a CT scan. I was so busy with the holidays and work, that I waited until Jan. to have the CT scan. That showed the tumor. The tumor was closing off my intestines and was the size of a cantalope. The one at my waist was much smaller, but still required a bowel resection. The cancer was all over the pelvic region. I was devastated. My gynecologist-oncologist, who performed the surgery, said that the cancer probably started at least two years ago. Wow, how could I not know? I was stunned. That is the terrible part of this type of cancer, the symtoms whisper, so you have to listen very closely. Ovarian cancer is very curable in the early stage, but most are not found until stage 3 or 4. The cure rate goes down quite a lot. BUT, there is always hope and so many

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Posted by Lee Mason at 7:46 PM | Comments (4)

Chemo Brain

Before I had chemo, I never knew that it affects the brain and I must add that it is not in a good way. The term "chemo brain" is used quite often at my house. Chemo affects your short term memory. It is so hard to stay on task, so hard to remember names and really scary when you find yourself driving and have no idea where you are or where you are going to. No one ever tells you about all the side effects of chemo. Many of them last for years. Some of painful like the neuropathy in my hands and feet, some are just annoying, like getting used to curly hair. I guess the doctors know that saving a life is more important than side effects.

The problem is that sometimes I feel so stupid and I just want to tell you that really, I am smart, it's the chemo. But then who would really care? It would just seem that I am making excuses or complaining. I don't want to be a complainer. I want to handle this with all the grace I can. I am so thankful to be alive and appreciate it so much. So many people helped save my life and I can never repay them.

I can live with this. The key words are, "I can live!"

Posted by Lee Mason at 1:25 PM | Comments (12)