Joining the 44%: Surviving 5 Years with Ovarian Cancer

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Walking for Us: Tammy and Rochelle, wearing  teal shirts as ovarian cancer survivors; and my good friend Lorie.

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%.

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SEER Cancer Statistics Factsheets: Ovary Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD

 

 

 

 

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.

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Team Dwyer, named for Shelagh Dwyer, my good friend and support buddy. Wishing her all the best as she battles health issues in hospital.

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This entry was posted in Great News, Inspirational, Living with Cancer, Walk for Hope and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Joining the 44%: Surviving 5 Years with Ovarian Cancer

  1. Ramy says:

    This is such fantastic news Rochelle! And the fact that you raised so much money at your walk! I am so happy to see the 5 year mark! I am also so happy that you and I will be going to Phoenix on Saturday to enjoy a little bit of R & R (Rochelle and Ramy)! Till Saturday!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynne says:

    Fantastic news indeed!

    The Big C may take your hair, your appetite, your balance…but it has never taken your beautiful, beautiful smile. Have a wonderful time in the dessert and in the tropics, and please send photos so we can see you beaming that brilliant smile!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan says:

    Awesome news! Happy, happy cancer-versary!! oxo Susan

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Therese says:

    So heartwarming to read your good news and look forward to many more blogs and adventures. Here’s a big hug . Will continue with the candles though , just to be on the safe side. Xo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Diane Eggl says:

    Congratulations on reaching the 5-year mark, I know it is a big one, and that it has been a long lonely road for you sometimes. Wishing you a great day and strength and health as you go into the new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks Rochelle, I like to keep up with you.

    Like

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