Surviving ovarian cancer is not easy, and you need all the help you can get. Here are some survivors shining a path for you.
Ovarian cancer is not one of the most common cancers in the world. In fact, it accounts for just 3 percent of the total number of cancer cases affecting women globally. However, ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers out there. This disease causes more deaths than any other cancer of female reproductive organs. Basically, ovarian cancer is a female reproductive cancer that starts in the ovaries. Early detection of ovarian cancer affects the mortality rate to a great extent. As with other cancers, early detection results in swifter treatment and much better prognosis and survival rates. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer may not show any symptoms till the disease progresses to an advanced stage.
Some of the common symptoms of ovarian cancer include abdominal swelling, bloating, abdominal pressure and pain, trouble eating, weight loss, frequent/urgent need to urinate, change in bowel habits, etc. If you experience any or all of these symptoms, and have a familial history of female reproductive cancer, it is best to consult your doctor at the earliest. Your doctor will be able to assess your risk of ovarian cancer, and direct you accordingly.
Being diagnosed with ovarian cancer is a dreadful nightmare. The road to recovery is long and arduous. However, it is important to not lose hope. Many women have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and have survived to tell their tales. Here are a few testimonials from ovarian cancer survivors who would like to give you some advice and some pointers about what living with ovarian cancer is like.
Ginny, diagnosed at 50
A prenatal genetic counselor at Johns Hopkins, Ginny hails from Montana. Diagnosed with stage IIIC epithelial ovarian cancer in 2002 at the age of 50 years, she has familial history of the disease. After undergoing testing for genetic mutations, it was found that Ginny was BRCA I. This also put her at risk for breast cancer. After diagnosis, she went through a standard debulking surgery coupled with a color resection. During the initial treatment phase, Ginny went through the standard 6 cycles of IV chemotherapy with 2 drugs, as well as intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Three cycle of this chemotherapy left her feeling very sick and terrible. However, her nightmare had just begun. Since there she has gone through 4 separate recurrences of the cancer. All of them have been at localized areas, and her treatment plan has included 6 cycles of chemotherapy with different combinations of drugs.
Ginny has now been cancer-free for over 5 years. Unfortunately, all the prior surgeries and treatment plans caused extreme abdominal weakness. Owing to this, she had to undergo a double hernia repair. She is now recovering from the surgery.
“Be prepared that having cancer is at least a part-time job, and at times a full-time job. Allow yourself to rest, but stay involved in something that will distract you from having cancer. This can be work, as it was for me, it can be your children or grandchildren, it can be a hobby, a faith group, whatever will work for you. Seek support that will be helpful to you. This may be a spouse, a sibling or parent, a friend, a cancer support group that either meets in person, or online. Understand that family members may not know how to support you, be forgiving and help them. Ask for things you need, like a ride to the grocery store. Don’t delve too much into statistics about your cancer. They represent the average, and you are a unique individual, not the average. When the medical team gives you the treatment plan, make sure it is comprehensive – add to it whatever social and emotional supports you feel can be helpful to you, such as a faith group, cancer support group, complementary medicine, and so on.”
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