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Diagnosed while pregnant

heike
Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2002

Hi,
I am new to this group and I was wondering if there is anybody else out there who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer while they were pregnant? My diagnosis was almost 3 years ago, I have had 2 surgeries (the first while I was 6 months pregnant with my first child) and 6 cycles of chemo, and I have been ok so far - although I am still afraid of a recurrence. Anyway, I have been so busy surviving and taking care of my son and working on getting tenure (I am a college professor) that I am only now starting to work through the emotional issues, especially the fear when I think about the possibility of not being able to see my son grow up... So I was wondering if there is anybody out there in a similar situation?
Thanks, Heike

ingrid
Posts: 11
Joined: Aug 2000

Dear Heike
I am cancer survivor as well (3 years).
I know a young woman who was diagnosed ovarian cancer during pregnancy 4 years ago as well. She is still doing fine.
There is no reason for recurrence. You have to believe that you will survive. Your mind is stronger than your body.
If you live your life beeing scared you miss so much. Enjoy your life - enjoy your son growing up - enjoy every moment. Your mind has to be strong. No chance for the illness to come back And if ever it will come back we will struggle and fight again. We have been so lucky to survive.
If you want to write here is my e-mail address ingrid_vettiger@hotmail.com
Would be glad hearing from you.
All the best
Ingrid$

ingrid
Posts: 11
Joined: Aug 2000

Dear Heike
I am cancer survivor as well (3 years).
I know a young woman who was diagnosed ovarian cancer during pregnancy 4 years ago as well. She is still doing fine.
There is no reason for recurrence. You have to believe that you will survive. Your mind is stronger than your body.
If you live your life beeing scared you miss so much. Enjoy your life - enjoy your son growing up - enjoy every moment. Your mind has to be strong. No chance for the illness to come back And if ever it will come back we will struggle and fight again. We have been so lucky to survive.
If you want to write here is my e-mail address ingrid_vettiger@hotmail.com
Would be glad hearing from you.
All the best
Ingrid$

hollywo0d4
Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 2002

Dear Friends and Family,
It has been such a long time between updates because not too much changes on a daily or even weekly basis. However, with a couple of weeks having gone by, change is more noticeable.
Today is one year and one day since the results of the Xray were reported to me on the phone by my ob/gyn. And to think, I was afraid I had pneumonia. Ha! Joke was on me. With the chest cold of the season, I was knocked on my butt at 6 1/2 months pregnant. I has already requested an Xray and was talked out of it by a pregnant technician. A week or two later, curled up in the fetal position because I had coughed so much my pregnant belly hurt, my ob/gyn's nurse gave me a script for cough syrup and called my doctor at home. He insisted I go for the Xray and was quite disturbed I had been talked out of it the first time. And so I went.......
That very night I was called at home by my very loved ob/gyn and his exact words were "Jessica, you cannot seem to have a simple pregnancy, can you?" With that comment, after my first miracle daughter Jacynta, I chuckled and asked what he meant. I totally expected the report to be something like pneumonia. He told me that I had a large mass in my chest and we needed to get it checked out. I, in a stupor, said something or another and he followed up with the comment that it was comparable to the size of a large loaf of bread!!!!! He said he was going to get me set up with a CT scan the following day and that all I would have to do was show up. ..... Have you ever seen in a movie when someone gets really bad news on the phone and then hangs up and drops to the floor and cries with almost no sound??? Only to be followed by hysterics. Well, that was me and there was no acting. I couldn't even tell my husband when he came upstairs to find me on the floor with
It was two CT scan guided biopsies and one surgically removed lymph node from my neck and three weeks later that we actually found out the diagnosis. The most I remember from then on out was that my symptoms progressed quickly and that I have never felt worse. And I clearly remember it. March 6th I received my diagnosis from the pulmonary specialist who insisted that if we didn't get a firm diagnosis that day I was going to be admitted. Well, having a clue which direction the doctors were going in, I was accompanied by two close friends at my home so that I would not be alone. Another good friend had been watching Jacynta regularly to help me get through doctor appointments. Which, by the way, there were and still are many. The call came and her exact words, which I repeated to my parents shortly after, were "the good news is that you don't have to check into the hospital tonight"... and the bad news I asked. "You have hodgkin's lymphoma". She went on to
Anyway, the plan was to wait out the inducing of my daughter to at least 33 weeks gestation. Normal delivery is at 40 weeks. They preferred 34+ weeks, but I begged and pleaded. I did not want to do anything to endanger my child, but I was getting to the point of quitting, and I don't quit. Well, the next few weeks, friends and people I barely knew offered help and the offers were accepted for them to accompany me at my home or theirs to help me care for my almost two year old. I was just getting weaker and more miserable by the day. Long story short - at 29 1/2 weeks, my water just broke. Jacynta was packed in the car and I called everyone I could on the way to the hospital, including my parents and my husband. I knew that I would be stuck in the hospital until delivery if she didn't come then. With Jacynta in the stroller I walked into the hospital and cried again on a nurses shoulder. Let's just say that all the nurses there remember me.
Only a few days later, at 30 weeks, Rachel was born at 3.4 pounds in two hard pushes and immediately I could breathe better. I had an epidural early because nobody wanted me to be in any more pain than I had to. What happened next is so rare my doctor had never seen it before. The mortality rate is extremely high. And many people don't know this aspect of our (my family's) story. My entire uterus went inside out and came out after the placenta. I tell you people - I watched 5 professional medical people walk around the room trying not to say anything because nobody knew what this was. Mel had gone to the NIC (intensive care) unit with Rachel until she had her ID bracelet on. He was not in the room. I had fever and was shaking from the hormones terribly. Remember I already was not in good health. I also had not had the CT scan below the diaphram so they thought it may have been a tumor. Nope! I bled a lot. They figured it out
Then I awoke to hear my husband's voice without being able to open my eyes. Lots of pain. I moaned and the nurse made several comments about how close it was how white I was and how glad they were to see me back. I had given everyone quite a scare. I opened my eyes to see my beloved, loyal husband and to see bags of blood on my IV pole. I had a transfusion. Two units. I was laying in a lot of blood and thought I had had a full hysterectomy. Well, they were able to get the uterus back in. Good thing because a hysterectomy would have caused a much longer recovery and a wait to begin chemotherapy. That was April 2nd. During the week I had a port placed under the skin in my left arm which had a catheter going through an artery to my heart of which the chemo would be put in to every time.
April 6th I went home, having awoke on a morphine drip after surgery. The doctor sent me home with a script for liquid morphine which no pharmacy could fill. I had no pain medication for quite a while when my doctor ordered me to crush up two Lortab every 4 hours. Well, that got me through the night. I spent the next few weeks on the morphine. April 7th the script got filled and I opened the bottle after arriving for my first chemo treatment. This is at a cancer clinic in a room with a bunch of lazy boy chairs with IV poles next to each one. That is chemotherapy. Chemicals through an IV. I had my cow pillow to hold against my belly - boy it hurt. I had on a big dress and my hospital slippers. Rachel was still in ICU. She had a really rough week too. She naturally lost some weight. She had a hole in her lung. A problem with her heart. A surgical hose placed in her chest. And a morphine drip of her own.
That very night, while attempting to sleep I awake fully to the sound of the dog (1 of 3) wimpering. It was just odd. I woke Mel and we went downstairs to find my favorite of the three and the oldest laying almost listless by the door. While Mel fumbled to call the vet I pet her to have her let out one last wimper. She had passed away that very night. Mel, already emotionally bruised, carried her to the garage to bring her to the vet to be cremated in the morning. That day, a call from a friend, he cried again. Like a baby. It was said best later that week, , , it was as if death was knocking at our door and Rebel took one for the team. Sad.
Well, chemo went very well for 6 months. 12 treatments. Only as a result of the port not working once I had to have an angiogram done at the hospital. A semi-invasive procedure, but at this point I was already a champ. The last treatment, my blood counts were down and I experienced three days in a row of shots (nupogen) to get the counts up. The day after my last chemo treatment, I opted to have the port removed. Of course, they had a difficult time getting it out. A 10 minute procedure which I requested no pain meds for took 45 minutes and I regretted not having the pain meds. No biggie though. Just another scar. Two to four weeks later I began radiation treatment. Really was no more than a 30 second Xray from the top and then from the bottom. Well, at least that was my impression. Geez, during treatment I had one round of steroids to relieve some of the tumor discomfort since it was still the size of a softball and still is.
Well, with all of this under my belt, having forgotten to include some things, I am sure, I am slowly recovering. It is so minimal from day to day that it is not noticeable. But when I think back to just a month ago, attempting to carry my child and falling (three times this happened) and the pain in my bones and whatnot, I can see just how far I have come. I can now carry my child (Rachel) up the stairs although it gets me quite winded. My body is healing. Having had a 100 temperature from pleuracy (sp? - swelling of the outside lining of the lungs) which I still have, I now have no fever. The pain I had only a week ago had significantly reduced. I finally have hope again. I had such a positive attitude during treatment and started to lose my spirit for a while. I am on the rise.
I will be having a procedure done shortly called stem cell storage. I will have one full day of high-dose chemo and lose my hair again and experience about 10 days of severe bone pain. Not long after that I will have those frozen stored stem cells put back into me. This process has 5 full days of high-dose chemo with the side effects a bit worse. This entire process should significantly reduce my chance of relapse which is considered high at 30-35 percent due to the original size and the fact that I had the symptoms I did. (Stage 3B)
I was denied doing the process recently because my lungs are at too much of a risk. We did the collection but the actual transplant is risky. So, now my stells are stored in the case of a relapse. That was last April. Almost a year ago. I go for a full work up again in March, 2003. So far so good. Family is well. And if you made it to the end of this letter, you too, are a trooper.

With love and recovery,
Life is a gift,
Let's Roll,
Jessica

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