Monday, May 18, 2015

Two Different Goodbyes

The past week was not a good one for me. Sadly though, it was not an unusual one for me as I approach 10 years of survivorship. Something very similar happened in 2012.

At my support group meeting on Tuesday I said goodbye to J. She shared with the group that her cancer had spread and after years of being in various treatments and clinical trials she had decided to stop. She was moving home to be with her mom in another state and would be leaving in about two weeks. She invited us all to make a trip to visit her. My heart ached as I watched her share her feelings with us. She is brave and strong and scared. I held back tears. And I did a good job until she left the room. 

I came home and sent and e-mail to fellow group member and friend, Linda. I told her how much I missed her at the meeting and asked how her treatments were going.  She didn't e-mail back but I thought that she was back in the hospital for another treatment.

On Thursday J texted me. She had just gotten off the phone with Linda's husband. Linda had passed away on Tuesday.

OMG! I couldn't believe it. Not another woman I had grown to care about taken too soon. I put my cell phone down and yelled "I hate this". My husband came over and hugged me as I cried. Memories came flooding back.

Linda and I had talked countless hours on the phone. She would call or text and ask me about trials.  We discussed parp inhibitors, surgery options and social security disability. We talked about our supportive husbands and the impact of our disease on our families.  I loved hearing her talk about the tap dance lessons she took and the recitals she participated in.  Over the 7 years we knew each other we attended a number of ovarian cancer awareness events. I finally got to meet her husband in person at a Survivors Day event last year.

Linda's  last text to me was before our April support group meeting. She told me it was ok for me to tell the group members about the secondary cancer she had, that she had been in the hospital and had broken her wrist. She finished her text with "I like you and trust you." I wrote back " I like you too. Hugs ". I will miss those phone calls and texts.

And... I will continue to text and e-mail J as she moves home and shares special times with her family. And I am hoping to make that trip to see her.


Dee
Every Day is a Blessing! 


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Let's Think Global - World Ovarian Cancer Day May 8th

I frequently share stats and information about ovarian cancer in the US but I am going to go global and talk about World Ovarian Cancer Day (WOCD) which is Friday May 8th in 2015. The first WOCD was held in 2013.






I think this is so important that I've shared my story on the World Ovarian Cancer Day website and have taken the pledge to share information about the disease with at least 5 women.

You can find more information to participate in events held round the world or to share information about ovarian cancer in your local community on the WOCD website.

Here is what you need to know:

Worldwide, ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of any gynecologic cancer.
A quarter of a million women are diagnosed worldwide with ovarian cancer and the disease is responsible for one hundred forty thousand  deaths each year.
Only 45% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer survive five years.
 There is no detection test for ovarian cancer !

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar to other less serious conditions but they are the same for women all over the world.

  • Bloating
  • Feeling full quickly
  • Abdominal pain
  • More frequent or painful urination.

Please share these symptoms with the women you know and their loved ones . Feel free to share the graphic above and use #WOCD when you tweet.

Thank you.

Dee
Every day is a Blessing!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I feel so ...

I know I haven't posted in a while. Actually, I've been working on this post for a while editing and adding to it. 

A few weeks ago a very dear friend's husband passed away from prostate cancer. I knew he had no treatment options left but it still came as a shock to me. He had been a vibrant 61 year old who had retired to spend time with his wife, children and grandchildren.

It sure didn't seem fair. Cancer does that - it takes good people. Don't get me wrong I am sure it takes the lives of not so great people too. But it is torture for those with cancer and those on the journey with us.

My first thought when I heard the news was what it would be like for me if my rock, my husband of 37 years, passed away.  I don't know how I would handle it. How could I get through a funeral. And then what would happen the first time I couldn't open a jar or move a piece of furniture ? Or what happens when I feel sick and still have to walk Amber in the rain or snow? Or how do I make meals for one?

But them another odd feeling came over me. How could I face my friend.  How could I, NED for 5 years since my recurrence face my friend. Would she look and me and think - why are you still here and my husband is gone?

I felt wary of going to the wake and seeing her for the first time since her husband's death. I hesitated getting out of the car and entering the funeral home. I  waited on line and finally reached her two sons. They called me by name gave me a hug and thanked me for coming. Then I moved over to my friend. She teared up - and so did I as we hugged and I told her how sorry I was. Then she told me that she prays for me every day because having cancer sucks.Yes, it sure does. But she wasn't angry at me and that made me feel so much better.

But I continued thinking about my friend and her husband and even mentioned them during my monthly gynecologic cancer support group. When it came to my turn to update everyone I told the group how unnerving it was for me, a survivor, to face my friend when her husband died. Then I asked the women, a majority are currently in treatment, if it was OK for them to hear my reports on being NED.  At times I felt guilty about being in good health among all these women struggling to make treatment decisions and dealing with side effects. Every single one of them said they were happy I was at the group and that my presence gave them hope. Those words brought tears to my eyes and I could once again bury my survivor's guilt for a little while longer.

Cancer changes your life and your outlook on life in more ways than you can imagine.

Dee
Every Day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

SGO from a Distance- Part 2

Before I begin sharing some tweets from yesterday's SGO Annual Meeting I want to share Ovarian Cancer Prevention: Ready for Prime Time a commentary written by Otis Brawley, MD in the ACS Journal CANCER. Initially the letter was not available to those who were not subscribers to CANCER. But after tweeting about survivors / advocates having to pay $6 to read the letter, editors made the commentary as well as the original article ( Society of Gynecologic Oncology recommendations for the prevention of ovarian cancer) available to all free of charge. Thank you to Wiley and the editors of the ACS Journal CANCER for responding within hours to my request.

 Where You Are Treated is Important:



Pap Test & Ovarian Cancer:



Do Ovarian Cancer Survivors Know their BRCA Status?



Cediranib and Endometrial Cancer:



Ruciparib Effectiveness in Ovarian Cancer:

Cervical Cancer and Bevacizumab:
Solving the Health Care Problem





Thanks so much to all the docs and researchers at SGO for sharing their insights during the Annual Meeting.

Dee
Every Day is a Blessing!


Monday, March 30, 2015

SGO From a Distance

Due to family commitments I was unable to attend this year's SGO Annual Meeting in Chicago. I did though follow a number of advocates and physicians who were tweeting live from the event. Here are some of the high points of the sessions from Saturday and Sunday.







Ovarian Cancer:



















Clinical Trials:



Vaccines:





 Genetics/ BRCA Mutations:






Risk Reducing Surgery:



HPV:




Exercise:




I certainly appreciate the efforts of those attending the meeting to let us at home be on top of the latest research in gynecologic cancers.

Dee
Every Day is a blessing!



Friday, March 27, 2015

Family


Our family tree - a gift from my son and daughter-in-law

Last weekend was filled with joyful celebration. We traveled to Auburn, Alabama to attend my son's wedding. My husband and I were so happy to welcome a very beautiful, caring, smart and talented "daughter" into our family and we were touched by the family and friends (both ours and my daughter-in-law's) who made the trip to witness the beginning of Matt and Amanda's new life together.

In 2008, a few weeks after my surgery for a recurrence,  two very good friends gave me an  Operation Bling Foundation necklace. During the past few years I took it out often and looked at it and thought about the support my friends provided and smiled.  But it never seemed the right time to wear it. The right time was on Saturday when I was there for a milestone in  my son's life.

I know I've written this many times before on this blog but back in 2005 I did not think I would see my son graduate college, get his Master's degree or marry. But there I was sitting in the front row with my grandson on my lap watching him and his wife say their vows. Holding back tears. Feeling very blessed.


Dee
Every Day is a Blessing! Blessed to have Amanda as part of our family.


Monday, March 16, 2015

A Teal Walk for Ovarian Cancer Research - The Sandy Sprint



No need to wait until September to help raise awareness of ovarian cancer and funds for research. You can take part in the Sandy Sprint Super Hero 5K/10K this April. The Sprint is hosted by the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation at the Philadephia Art Museum in Philadelphia.  This year is extra special as the Foundation will celebrate its 15th Anniversary.

While not required participants are encouraged to dress as their favorite Super Heros and to raise $150. If you are unable to attend you may participate as a Sleepwalker. Last year's almost 4000 participants raised $252,000 for research. Funds raised at this year's event will support the Ovarian Cancer Dream Team and the Ovarian Cancer Research Grant Program.  

I have completed this walk in the past and had lots of fun with other survivors and caregivers. These survivors would love for you to help out this year.


To register visit www.sandysprint15.kintera.org
Online registration closes on Wednesday April 22nd.


Dee
Every Day is a Blessing! Blessed for Foundations like Sandy Rollman who are raising funds for research and a cure.