Saturday, April 21, 2012

A perfect "10"?? Er, not quite...

My CA125 (tumor marker) number has been steadily dropping.  This week, it went from 15 down to 10!  That is the lowest it has ever been, and it should indicate in most normal women, that the cancer is non-existent or decreasing.  However, I have never been normal. 

My CT scan showed some areas that appeared to be tumor implants on my liver, so my doctor sent me for a PET scan.  They got me in the very same day for that scan.  I love Cancer Treatment Centers of America!!  :)  The PET scan confirmed that there is cancer on my liver.  To me, this was pretty good news.  If any cancer was present, I was sure it would be all over the place (like it usually does).  The fact that it is currently confined to the surface of my liver is good news! 

My doctor gave me three treatment options: Abraxane, Taxol weekly, or Taxotere.  They are all part of the 'taxol' family of drugs.  She thinks Abraxane (Paclitaxel) is the best option, as it is wrapped in an albumin nanoparticle that delivers the drug into cancer cells without the toxic solvent usage in Taxol.  I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has had this drug in the past, and their experience with it.  The main side effects are joint pain, hair loss, and low WBC and RBC counts. 

I will let them know my decision next week, but I'm leaning towards Abraxane.  I had Taxol a long time ago (with Carboplatin), and my cancer continued to grow during that time.  I am hopeful that with the better 'delivery' method for Abraxane, the chemo might actually do some good.  Also, my doctor promised me that we would scan again after a few treatments and see if it is helping.  My CA125 is obviously not indicative of cancer activity at all, so scans are the only way to tell what is going on in my body.  If Abraxane isn't working, we'll be able to switch to something else pretty quickly. 

I feel pretty good.  I am not as energetic as I used to be, but I am able to work full time, go on vacations (we just got back from Vegas - lots of fun!), and I have good quality of life right now.  I know my time is running short.  I plan to continue to enjoy each day.  I am almost at my five year survival mark (July) which is not common for women with recurrent ovarian cancer. I am so very grateful for the time I have been given. 

My CT scan also showed that I have a small hernia.  I noticed an achy feeling there for a few weeks (I think I did it when I was trying to lift my luggage for Vegas - oops!).  Right now it is not a concern, and it won't be fixed until I am off of chemo.  I'll use it as an excuse to get out of house cleaning  ;)

I hope everyone is doing well!  Enjoy the beautiful spring! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Yearly update

Honestly, I did not mean to let a year go by before updating. I was busy living my life, and did not have much to say about cancer.

Everything has been going well this year! My appointments through May 2011, showed my CA125 as stable and nothing suspicious was noted during my doctors appointments.

Fast forward to late September. My CA125 jumped from 14 up to 20 which was still in the so-called 'normal' range. However, my CA125 has never been a great indicator for me. I knew then that something was wrong. The doctor also 'felt' something during my exam, and ordered a CT scan right away. The scan showed that the cancer was back - and was all throughout my abdomen. Some of the larger tumors were identified in/on the colon, spleen, liver, omental stub, and pelvic area.

The thing about having recurrent cancer - it's like riding a bike. We found ourselves getting right back into the flow and rhythm of it. My favorite husband (FH) and I took a moment to process everything, and then got down to the important discussions with my doctor. She said that I would be a very good candidate for HIPEC (surgery with heated interperitoneal chemotherapy). The surgery included another full de-bulking (removal of all visible cancer) and then heated chemotherapy pumped throughout my abdomen for 90-120 minutes. The combination of the heat and the chemotherapy (Mitomycin-C) is supposed to help kill and sensitize the cancer cells.

My FH and I had discussed HIPEC in the past, and knew that was something we were interested in trying. So, I had the surgery on Monday, October 17. It was a 12 hour surgery. They removed my sigmoid colon, spleen, gall bladder, appendix, omentum, and assorted tumors throughout my pelvic area, and on my liver. Oh - they also removed that plastic tube that remained from the 'deportation' discussed in my last post!

I was in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for two days following the surgery. They removed the tracheal tube on Tuesday. I was so weak, and felt like I had been hit by a truck, but the drugs helped :) I had a catheter, a nasogastric (NG) tube, and multiple tubes entering and departing my body. I started feeling better on Wednesday once they got me up to walk. No food or drink (because of the NG tube), but I didn't care. I wasn't hungry.

Once they removed the NG tube and catheter on Friday - I felt even better. They started me on clear liquids Saturday, non-clear (pudding, cream soups) on Monday, and solid food on Tuesday night. I was healing well, and we were on the fast track to get out of there on Thursday or Friday!! (cue music indicative of impending doom..... :) )

My temperature started going up and they found out I had a blood infection, from my port (the implant in my chest that is used for chemotherapy infusion). They removed my port on Wednesday night, and put me on IV antibiotics. Thankfully, that cleared the infection right up.

I was discharged on Saturday - 12 days after surgery. I took the following three weeks off of work. I went back to work the week of Thanksgiving, which really helped me heal faster. I need to feel useful - and I sure wasn't useful during my stint at home.

Yesterday, I got my new port installed (short surgery), and started chemotherapy. I am on Alimta (Pemetrexed), which is supposed to be mild, with few side effects. The way I understand it, Alimta inhibits the action of 3 enzymes that are needed for cancer growth. The infusion didn't take long.

I have to take folic acid and get a vitamin B-12 shot. I also have to have lab work weekly (which I can do nearby home - and they'll fax the results) to ensure my blood counts remain good. They gave me anti-nausea medicine too which I'll take for a few days.

Emotionally, we are doing good. I feel that I am at the right place for treatment and that I am doing the right thing to get more quality time. I'll fight as long as it makes sense for me to fight.

So - that is what has been happening with me (at least as far as the 'cancer' portion of my life is concerned)! How are all of YOU doing?

PS I may not update frequently, but I will update soon if I have any side effects or issues with Alimta.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

De-ported (somewhat)

Well, I have been lax again in updating. Oops! :)

Two weeks ago I had a scan and appointment. Still nothing on the scan that is definitively cancer!! Yay! They did see a 'shadowy' area where my trachea splits - that my doc thought was because of a recent cold/allergies. She said there are a bunch of lymph nodes there that could be swollen. She said that she could not see what the radiologist was referring to, when she looked at the scan. Anyway - I am not worried, and she wasn't either. It is something we will watch, but not something that will cause me to lose any sleep.

We also talked about cutting back on the CT scans. I have been worried lately, about all the radiation I'm getting from them. My doctor said that she would be fine with cutting them back to twice a year. She said we can just use my CA125 and HE4 blood tests to monitor, as well as my own symptoms (or lack thereof). I'll still see her every three months, but only scanned every 6.

Yesterday I had my interperitoneal port removed. The port was located on my ribcage, and the tube was anchored to an area just above my liver. I didn't think that I would be as SORE as I am today. I actually took some Vicodin (prescribed) last night for the pain - and I try to avoid that drug. It gives me crazy dreams.

My poor favorite husband - they called him from the waiting room and said that the doctor wanted to talk to him. He was scared that I had died on the operating table, or even that they found more cancer... Luckily - they just needed to tell him that they could not get the tubing out of my abdomen (from the port). Adhesions and such had made the tube a permanent part of my body. They told him that they could remove it, but that it would require a full abdominal surgery. He made the absolute right choice by having them leave it in! (it was their recommendation too). The tubing has never been a problem for me anyway - I can't feel it. But I did feel the actual port on my ribs, and the anchor on my abdomen. I'm glad they are gone!

We are celebrating my little sisters 40th birthday today (her b-day is actually next week). I can't believe she is turning 40! She has turned into such a wonderful woman. I need to stop looking at her as my 'kid' sister now, I guess :) I'll load up on ibuprofin and have some wine - and my sore bandaged ribs/abdomen surely won't bother me tonight at her party! Happy birthday Lori - I love you!

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying life! Thank you for the continued thoughts and prayers. I know for certain that I would not be where I am today, without them.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

and another anniversary!

I realized late Saturday, that it has been three years since my hysterectomy, and subsequent Ovarian Cancer diagnosis. I honestly didn't think I'd make it this far when I was first diagnosed and two lines of chemotherapy (taxol/carboplatin and doxil) had no impact on my cancer. I imagined if I made it three years, I would be debilitated - as I see in other long term recurrent ovarian cancer survivors. But here I am - alive and thriving, and I wonder why. However, it is now an introspective 'why', and not a guilty one. The comments on my last post really helped me with the guilt. Especially Sams comment that my guilt will not do a thing for those other ovarian cancer patients-and she's right. It won't. What I can do for them and for myself, is to continue to live and enjoy my life, and every day that I have here on earth with my family and friends. That means no worrying about the future. The future will take care of itself.

I got to take my niece (my FH's oldest sisters' oldest daughter) skydiving! It was her request. She actually told me she wanted to do it when she was 16 (you have to be 18). She still remembered, and wanted to do it, and I was more than happy to join in on the fun. We couldn't sucker anyone else into going with us, but that was fine. I enjoyed this third skydive even more - it just keeps getting better! She really loved it too - so maybe a fourth dive is ahead!

Talk about not worrying about the future! ;) I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face the whole day! It was a great way to celebrate three years of survival.

Nothing else is new, except one sad note... I recently lost a facebook friend to ovarian cancer. You can see Sandhy's post about Diane on I could not have honored Diane better than Sandhy did, so I'm not even going to try.

You probably won't hear from me until October when my next scan is due. But who knows? ;)

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Recently, we celebrated my parents 45th wedding anniversary. My sister and I had a surprise 45th wedding anniversary party, that was a COMPLETE surprise to them! I still can't believe they had no clue :) My sister handled the bulk of the planning and work - and I handled the complaining :) I am not a party planner. My husband and I got married in Vegas, because the thought of planning a wedding completely terrified me. She did a fabulous job.

What was wonderful, was that everyone there seemed so happy to be there for my dad and mom. It really turned into a wonderful event. They have really been happily married for 45 years - it CAN be done! :) My favorite husband and I have been happily married for nearly 7 years, so we are on our way.

I had my CT scan and saw my doc Thursday and Friday. My news continues to be great! My CA125 remains at 14, and the scan shows no growth!! Holy cow. The calcified nodules are still there, but show no increase in size. The doctor said that the nodules occur when cancer "shrinks" and leaves behind calcium deposits. So there is no way to tell if cancer remains or not in those nodules - we just keep tracking them.

She is also incorporating a new biomarker blood test. Its the HE4 test, that is supposed to be more reliable than the CA125. Great - its another number for me to worry about!! :) I won't have that result for at least a week. I'm honestly not worried about that number yet, because of the scan and CA125 results.

The one bad thing is that I found out I was one of the very few women at my docs office that was getting "good" results that day. It makes me feel guilty and unworthy. Part of that comes from the fact that I have been extra tired, and I haven't accomplished anything lately. I work, and come home and sit on the couch :( I really need to remember to take my vitamins every day. I think the tiredness is from deficiencies, caused from past chemo treatments. What would those other women accomplish if they had my good news? I need to be re-motivated and re-energized.

Thank you all so much for your continued good energy and prayers! I have been off of treatment since January, and that is a miracle for someone with recurrent ovarian cancer!! Now, I need to get moving! :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Enjoying Spring!

I could apologize again about what a bad blogger I am, but would you really accept it? :)

At least I come bearing good news! I had my CT scan and doc appointment last week. The scan *read* that nothing showed up. However my doctor pulled the scan up on her computer, and saw that there are still calcified nodules in my abdomen. Those nodules, in comparison to scans from November, have shrunk! From now on though, I will always have her pull the scans up and read them herself. I don't have much faith in the radiologists' reading, which is not good. At least the doctor is aware of it now, and maybe can say something to get that fixed.

She said that we don't need to do anything now. I need to have another scan in three months. Until then (and hopefully, beyond then) I'm still on break!! My CA125 is down to 14 (the lowest its ever been).

My favorite husband and I were actually in shock. I was certain that I would need to start treatment again (and I think he thought so too). I wasn't as stressed about starting treatment again, knowing she would likely put me back on Avastin, which was really helpful (in conjunction, I believe, with the OVax vaccine trial I was in). Knowing how subversive and sneaky ovarian cancer is, I didn't expect to get an extended break like this! My body is reveling in it, and with spring here, I feel renewed.

For those of you battling ovarian cancer - I wish for the same break for you. I can't explain how much hope this gives me. At a minimum, it is more time, and it gives my body time to recuperate from all the abuse its taken the past three years.

I won't promise to update soon. :) I will try to update more often! Please continue to send good energy and prayers my way, and I'll do the same for you.

Now, go out and enjoy your lives!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tentative optimism!

First - let me apologize for not posting sooner. I have been busy with work, the holidays, and all of that wonderful daily minutia that we generally take for granted. I take it for granted too, but definitely less than I used to.

I have had a total of six treatments of Avastin, as a single agent treatment, for my recurrent ovarian cancer. I had a CT scan on Thursday, and a doctors appointment on Friday. Unfortunately for my doctor, and for me - she was sick and not in the office. I got to see her PA, who I really like though, so I still got my results.

The scan results were a little confusing to us. In some sections, it said "no change from last scan" but in others it said "no abnormal mass". The PA said this means that the cancerous nodules viewed on the last scan are either gone, or so small as to not be visible on the scan. Gone? Really?? I only have one calcified lymph node that is unchanged from the last scan. So, it sounds like wonderful news and I am now on "break" from treatment for two months! Wow! In two months I'll have another scan and appointment.

My favorite husband and I still want to talk to the doctor to clarify this report. It is the "no change from last scan" part that has my husband and I confused, and not quite ready to fully embrace that these nodules are really gone. Don't get me wrong - we are thrilled and very happy that I get a break so that my body can recuperate! We just want to clarify that the absence of information, means that there is no information available (no tumors or growths).

However, even if the scan showed no difference from last time, meaning nodules remain - that is still good news! No growth is always good news! But I hope you can understand our confusion :)

I plan to call my doctor next week (giving her a few days to catch up with her other patients) to make sure that the news is as good as it sounds. I will repost then to let you know too!

What a wonderful drug Avastin is! Its been the only thing in 2 1/2 years that has stopped my cancer from growing and even better - caused it to shrink or disappear! I also think that it is especially effective because of the vaccine I received. Both my husband and I think they are acting in conjunction with eachother - the vaccine preventing new growth, and the Avastin killing the active nodules.

So that is my update! I hope that you are all doing well and enjoying each day! I can promise that I will be enjoying all of mine! :)