Saturday, July 28, 2018

13 years? Yes it is.

I remember waking up from surgery on July 29th, 2005 to the words " You have stage 3B ovarian cancer". And then the words," I will do everything to make you well".

My life changed with those few words in so many ways. If you have followed this blog since 2007 you know that it hasn't always been easy. But I have made it through with the help of my outstanding physicians and nurses at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey,  the help of my best friend and husband Nick, the support of my children and their spouses, the love of my grandsons, supportive family and some of the best friends anyone could ask for.

Have there been side effects? Sure. Do I still have neuropathy in my toes? Yes. Do I still experience chemobrain? Yes. If I am multi-tasking my word recall diminishes dramatically which at times could lead to a few good laughs. Have I had some really stressful times? Absolutely. To this day, about a week before my scans and blood work, until I hear my test results, my anxiety level goes through the roof. Does my mind still go to cancer whenever I have an ache or pain? Honestly, even now, yes it does. Does it stay there for long? Usually not. 

But most of the time I am having fun living my life and trying new experiences. How can cancer bring you good things you ask? For me, having an ovarian cancer diagnosis lead me to become an ovarian cancer research advocate. I have been able to take part in projects to increase cancer research funding. I've attended medical conferences as a voice for ovarian cancer patients. I  have traveled to Chicago, Maryland, Washington, DC and Lisbon. I've been a panel member for three ASCO Guidelines, and co-authored a book and journal articles. ( And another one is in the works.) And I have met so many amazing patients, physicians, researchers and writers along the way.

And these extra years have let to new experiences too. There have been weddings, graduations, births and trips to some spots on my bucket list. I started painting when I was in chemotherapy and I continue to find it a very calming activity. I paint mostly animals - dogs usually but a few cats and birds too.  And I love painting quilts ( I'm not so good at sewing quilts but love the symmetry in the designs. ) After my recurrence, I learned how to do agility with my dog, Amber.  I'm not fast - Amber is- but I love spending time with Amber and being around people who love their dogs.

So thanks for taking this journey with me. And now a special shout out to Dr Lorna Rodriguez and Dr Darlene Gibbon. My life savers for making this all possible.

Every Day is a Blessing

Friday, July 20, 2018

Blogs and A Decision

For the past few weeks I have spent most of my time with my children and grandchildren. It was a fun time swimming and exploring new things, drawing and creating things with them. Now that they have headed to their new home, I have time to get back to writing posts for this blog. But I had a problem. What do I write about? Seems that for the past week I have had "bloggers block". 

Then yesterday, in a Facebook group I belong to, I ran across a post by a women with ovarian cancer who shared a link to her latest Cabernet and Carboplatin Blog post "Identity". As I read the post I could relate to how she was feeling and I loved how Carol wrote. I thought to myself that her blog would be a great one to add to the list of ovarian cancer blogs I created on ( ). There is a link to the list in the right column of this blog. 

The list I created a few years ago includes blogs written by women diagnosed with ovarian cancer or their loved ones. It does not include single blog posts by patients, survivors or caregivers appearing on other independent, patient or awareness organization websites. It had been so long since I did an update that I had to look up the password to access the list.  I added Cabernet and Carboplatin. Then I "googled" ovarian cancer blogs and found two other blogs that I was not familiar with but liked the posts I read. So I added these blogs written by young women, Finding Cyril - The Musings of a Young Woman Diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer and Let's Kick Ovarian Cancer - A Journey with Ovarian Cancer at Age 26 , to my list.

After making the adds I started going through the list. Afew of my survivor friends, including a few from the UK are still writing.  Then I found a few blogs in a row where new posts haven't been made for over two years. Why did these women choose to stop writing their blog? In one case I am friends with the woman on Facebook so I know she is doing OK. But in many of the other cases the last post related to decisions about hospice and facing death or posts from family members. I was overwhelmed with sadness that after so many years so many women's lives are still  lost to ovarian cancer.

Now I am in a quandary. Do I leave those blogs where women haven't posted in a number of years? Or do I delete those blogs from my list?

Then I thought about my "On this Day"  that showed up this morning on Facebook.

Eleven years ago my friend Courtney had posted:

"Hey Dee... just wanted to say hello and thank you for the cards you've sent my way. They've made me smile :) Hope you're having a good summer! "

She passed away in 2011, yet this morning I read that memory and I smiled and thought how blessed I was to have known this dynamic and amazing young woman. 

So for now I will be leaving those blogs in my list. My way of never forgetting the women whose journey ended but who lives blessed so many of us.

Every Day is a Blessing!