It’s my “cancer-versary” today and I’m proud and surprised to have made it this far. Five years ago I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to Christmas. But it looks like I will see December again.
How did I do it? Was it the exercise twice a week? All those supplements? Was it the prayers, love and support of many friends? Or Therese’s candles lit in cathedrals all over Europe? Was it five different lines of chemo? Was it the PARP clinical trial? (No, definitely not that). Was it my naturopath and Vitamin C infusions?
I’m sure a sense of humour helps — especially black humour because sometimes you just have to laugh as we undergo these treatments to get rid of tumours. But first we have to endure baldness, blisters, swollen feet and hands or legs. We lose our balance and the ability to walk with elegance. Sores inhabit our mouths and make eating unpleasant. We’re all on this low fibre or “white” diet after years of worshiping steel-cut oats and kale smoothies. Now it’s white bread, white rice, not too much salad and peel that fruit. No nuts or grains or seeds.
And there’s no promises that the chemo will work. Or that it will work for awhile until you’re back looking for the next weed-killer on the shelf.
No one knows the magic combination to survive ovarian cancer. Good health probably helps. As my family doctor says: “Other than the big thing, you’re really very healthy.”
Until recently, only 30% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer were still alive after five years. That’s a quick trip through the world of ovarian cancer. New data shows more women are surviving longer — 44.6%.
I’ve had good news since I left the PARP inhibitor trial (ARIEL2). After two Taxol (paclitaxel) treatments, my CA 125 has dropped again — from 1,700 to 74. (Normal is 32 and under.) So incredible that my oncologist called me at home to tell me the news. And how am I feeling? Energetic. Back to exercise class. Swimming laps. Looking forward to a trip to the heat of Phoenix and later this fall, to Maui.
I’ve come a long way from surgery five years ago when I was wheeled into recovery shouting, “Thank God for BC Hydro!”. It wasn’t electrical power I was concerned about — it was my kids who I was solely responsible for. I worked for BC Hydro and its excellent health benefits and long term disability also supported my survival.
I joined other survivors on Sunday for The Walk of Hope after our Team Dwyer raised more than $11,700 from supporters far and wide. The national total raised is already more than $2 million. What is it for?
Because it’s only through more research will we learn how to more survivors can live longer. In the meantime, creating awareness of the vague symptoms of this disease will encourage earlier diagnosis, treatment and survival.
Okay, enough of the serious stuff… I’m off to celebrate my cancer-versary and to enjoy my life, as long as I can. Until next time.