On March 17, 2013, I will have survived 2 years since my last chemotherapy treatment with no evidence of cancer. Factors that I attribute to my survival are: 1) God's grace; 2) Prayers and support from friends and family; 3) I went to see my doctor soon after having symptoms; 4) My doctors diagnosed my cancer very quickly; (Ovarian cancer is known as a silent killer because it has symptoms that are common to many other diseases and is often misdiagnosed.) 5) My cancer was removed by a gynecological oncologist (i.e., a surgeon that specializes in gynecological cancers); and 6) Cancer research into better treatments and the management of side affects. Before I even had cancer, I participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life which raises funds for cancer research and support for cancer patients.
I initially went to my primary care doctor after I suddenly started having a pain in my lower right side whenever I moved and a few days later had a low-grade fever. I thought I was having an appendicitis. My doctor thought that there was about a 50% chance of it and immediately checked me into the hospital. After several tests and several different doctors looking at the results, they determined I most likely had ovarian cancer. The gynecologist from the hospital set me up with an appointment with a gynecological oncologist for surgery in another city who was an expert in ovarian and other gynecological cancer. He said that that if his mother had ovarian cancer, that doctor would be the one he would send her to for surgery. I read on the Internet that my surgeon was one of the top gynecological oncologist in the U.S. He taught classes on it and had written textbooks and wrote papers on the subject that he presented world-wide. After the surgery, my surgeon referred me to an oncologist in the city where I lived for chemotherapy treatments. Even though my surgeon removed all my cancer, I needed chemotherapy to get rid of anything too small to be seen.
I received great emotional support from friends and family and even strangers. I found out how much people really cared about me which I didn't realize before. I had people praying for me from around the world. I had my surgery in a hospital about a 3-1/2 hour drive from our house. My husband drove me to my appointment to see my surgeon on a Friday prior to having surgery on the following Monday. We stayed the weekend there and went to a church we had never been before. My husband asked the elders there to pray for us which they did. One of them came up unexpectedly the next day and stayed with my husband while I was in surgery and kept him company. I was surprised after my surgery when several friends came to visit me from our city when I was in the hospital. My son also made a trip to see me even though he was taking classes at a university several hours away. My mom called me on the phone a lot since she lives even farther away. My husband was my best supporter. Besides being there for me and helping me out, the best thing I liked was that he agreed with everything I said even when we both knew I was wrong. He also gave up his "precious" remote control to me which he thought was the best thing he could do for me. Some ladies from our church provide a set of several individually wrapped small gifts - 1 per day - for one person each month who needs special encouragement. They chose me the month after my cancer surgery when I was just starting my chemo treatments. On the day my husband cut my hair all off I told him I thought it was a 2-gift day. He agreed and I opened 2 gifts instead of one that day.
Resources that I found helpful were booklets on ovarian that I got from the American Cancer Society office near where I live along with books I checked out from their library. One book I remember, in particular, was about Gilda Radner who was an actress who died of Ovarian Cancer. Also, while I was in the hospital, I received a bag full of booklets and a notebook from an organization called "Bag It." (Their website is www.bagit4u.org). The notebook I received in my bag was the most useful. I use it to store in one place all my lab reports and medical information along with a calendar which I recorded my symptoms and treatments and appointments by date.