I’m still trying to wrap my head around my diagnosis.
When I first heard that I had ovarian cancer stage 1c I thought great, it will be all cured with the hysterectomy. But after the surgery and biopsies another cancer was found in the endometrium which was staged at 1b. It seems that the pathologist determined that the cancers were 2 primary or synchronous cancers rather than a spread which would have made it stage 3. So I’m lucky in that sense but I can’t help but wonder if they got it right as this is a very rare occurrence.
Because it’s now considered cancers in 3 places with the ovarian tumours being grade 2 (more aggressive growth then grade 1), I would need to go through both chemo and radiation. Ovarian cancer cells are eradicated through chemo while getting rid of endometrial cancer cells has a better outcome with radiation.
To make it even more confusing is that endometrial cancer is also called uterine cancer or womb cancer. Makes it hard when you’re trying to research the topic.
My gynaecologist estimated that the tumours grew aggressively in 3 months but I only felt the extreme pain in the last week. One of the tumours was 19cm long and I could actually feel it crushing my ribs. Couldn’t sleep at all the last week of December and through New Year.
In early December I had bloating but thought it was my usual stomach issues and nothing serious. There was also unexplainable weight gain even though I was eating the same amounts.
The last week of December after Christmas I couldn’t breathe feeling some type of fluid pressing against my diaphragm. It turned out to be ascites.
This excellent resource, Cancer Research UK has a better explanation:
Ascites is the medical name for a build up of fluid in the abdomen. Many women with advanced ovarian cancer have ascites. There are a number of reasons why ascites can develop. For example, when cancer cells spread to the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum), they can irritate it and cause fluid to build up. Also, cancer can block part of the lymphatic system so the fluid can’t drain out of the abdomen as usual.
What I can advise now is don’t ignore chronic fatigue, bloating, difficulty breathing or unexplained weight gain. But the symptoms can be very subtle which is why Ovarian Cancer is usually detected in the advanced stage. I think I’m lucky that mine was detected at age 45 rather than in my sixties.
Nobody has talked to me about prognosis yet though. Internet resources talk about survival in terms of 1 year, 5 years and 10 years. They don’t go beyond that. Survival rates are higher the earlier the cancer is detected.
To be honest I’m more concerned about quality of life. Rather have a happy decade than years of suffering. Going beyond that I hope I’ll be able to be fit enough to play with my nieces like I used to and even travel. And I hope very soon.