On December 1, 2011, six weeks after giving birth to our first child, I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. After a week of testing (MRI/Ascites) at the Rockyview Hospital, I was finally transferred and admitted to the Foothills Hospital on December 8, 2011.
December 8, 2011 was also surgery day. We knew there was a possibility of a full hysterectomy and told the surgeon that we are okay if that is the case. The surgery took several hours longer than anticipated. The surgeon said the tumor was much larger than the images showed only six days earlier. The tumor was 21 inches long, and so my incision was made much larger to assist with the removal of the tumor and my right ovary. I lost a lot of blood, so much so that the surgeon was questioning whether I would pull through surgery. Knowing that I have a newborn waiting for mommy to come home, the surgeon was determined to successfully remove the tumor with ovary. I have never felt so much pain. The narcotics given after surgery to help with the pain didn’t seem to help much.
A week after surgery I underwent a procedure for the central line. This would assist with the liquid food I required to gain weight before beginning an aggressive form of chemotherapy treatment, the daily early morning blood draws and of course to administer the chemotherapy drugs. There was no time to heal after surgery, the doctor had to start on the chemotherapy immediately in response to the aggressive nature of the cancer I had. December 19, 2011 was my first chemotherapy treatment. I received three drugs (Cisplatin, Etopiside, Bleomycin); thirteen treatments over a three week period and repeated four times.
I received fifty two treatments in under 3 months. (December 19, 2011 to March 6, 2012). I was hospitalized from December 1, 2011 to March 22, 2012. At the end of the chemotherapy, my kidneys were no longer functioning as they should, which is why I remained in hospital for weeks after the last chemotherapy treatment. By the end of the third cycle I had become nauseated and immobile (too weak). I felt like a corps in my hospital bed, not able to do anything, not even drink the water I was supposed to drink after each chemotherapy treatment. I was too weak; so weak in fact that I could not open my eyes to see my baby girl on her daddy’s lap as they sat there in the chair by my hospital bed. All I could do is focus on breathing, staying alive and crying at the thought that this could be the end.
Due to my healthy lifestyle prior to the cancer, I was able to successfully pull through all four cycles of chemotherapy. Today, 4 years later, I remain cancer free! I was introduced to Paul Anthony in early May 2013 and have been seeking his help and expertise in rebuilding what was lost. I was only skin and bone when I finished the chemotherapy. What a transformation to compare what I looked like then and what we have been able to achieve in such little time! I count my blessings daily and thank God for His power and grace! All hospital staff, colleagues and family who witnessed the struggle are my angels.
To my parents; your baby girl is a fighter! I love you!
To my husband; thank you for your strength and support! I love you!
To my daughter; mommy’s home! I love you!
Author's note: I want to take a moment to thank Melanie for sharing her story. This fight is much more difficult than taking to a stage to compete. It's a daily, second by second battle of will. Unfortunately, not everyone has a winning story, so I hope you take a moment to remember those winning, losing and those who have left us already. Reality is, we need to fight this together!! Thanks for reading.