Copyright © Angelina R. Sanner, 1999, 2000
On June16, 1991 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I had gone to the hospital with an attack of diverticulitis. While I was being examined the ER doctor asked me if I knew that I had a mass as big as an orange, I said, "No". Well, anyway, it turned out to be ovarian cancer, stage III. My CA-125 was 11,500. Shortly after the operation it went down to 500.
They had to do a temporary colostomy, which in fact, was reversed at my six-month second-look operation. I had six months of cysplatin/cytoxin chemotherapy that made me deadly sick. At my six month second look operation, the doctor took a "gazillion" biopsies which were all negative. He said to be on the safe side; I should continue the chemotherapy.This time the drugs were carboplatin/VP-16. He had inserted a port-o-cath. This wenton for 2 months - when I had my first recurrence which was treated with 6 weeks of radiation, followed by 3 days in the hospital with concentrated doses of radiation. Then I took hexalin orally for about 4 weeks.
By this time, Zofran had been discovered and my nausea was abated. I was fine for about 2 years. In December 1994, I was diagnosed with my 2nd recurrence. I received 1 monthly treatment of Taxol/carboplatin. Then because my blood count was so low they gave 4 more treatments of Taxol alone.
Two years later, August 1996, I thought I was home free, when suddenly my CA-125 went up again, so the doctor examined me and I was in my 3rd recurrence. This time I was treated over the next six months with five 24-hr infusions of taxol and two 1-hr infusions of topotecan. These chemicals shrunk the tumor down to less than 2 centimeters. I talked with my doctor and together we decided to do something aggressive and remove the damn thing!
So, in March of 1997, I was back in surgery. He removed the tumor, did a colostomy, resectionof my bladder and rectum and removal of port-o-cath. Unfortunately, this time the colostomy is permanent. ( But, I?ll never have to use Preparation H again.)
Meanwhile back at the ranch, I was diagnosed with Parkinson?s in 1990 and then six months later with Pagets (a form of osteoporosis, which is very painful- because instead of the bones becoming brittle, they become soft). Well, with medication, canes and walkers, I am doing all right. The only thing that set me back with my Parkinson?s was that Taxol and Topotecan affected my balance and I kept falling. I have had some very bad falls, but luckily, nothing was ever broken. Thank God.
I had a lumbar laminectomy in January 1994, which took care of my terrible back pain. Last December 1998; I had neck surgery that entailed removal of 3 bone spurs, and fusion using a piece of bone from my right hip. I wore a neck brace for over 13 weeks and was under "housearrest" because I couldn?t drive until March 23rd. And, boy have I gone shopping now. It seems that the spurs that were pressing on my spinal column and causing all that terrible pain had also affected my equilibrium and now I am walking much better and falling down less often. I am going to "Gait" therapy twice a week now and it is really helping. I also start speech therapy today.
This time I have a very good feeling about this remission or should I say I am cured! It willbe a year in March, and I feel wonderful.
The most important thing that I learned is that I was not alone. My husband and family were so supportive and helpful. We have four children. Two girls and two boys. We also have 10 grandchildren. I found out that I had friends I didn?t even know about. I finally retired in December 1994 after 19 1/2 yrs working in a District Attorney's office as Secretary to the District Attorney. The only reason I retired was because of my Parkinson?s, I couldn?t write or walk too well. I still keep in touch with all the people there. What I do now, is keep in touch with mychildren and friends through e-mail and I paint resin Santas. I started doing it for fun and to keep the arthritis at bay, but now I give or sell some to my friends.
I would like to say to anyone who has just been diagnosed with having some form of cancer. DO NOT GIVE UP! FIGHT! LIFE IS TOO SWEET!
It's the other stuff that is driving me crazy. I have Parkinson's, whichcauses me to fall quite frequently. So, when I fell on May 7, 2000, it was the third fall of the day. Only this time I fell on the wooden floor in the kitchen and broke my left femur and it is not healing at all. (I have Pagets in that leg and it doesn't want to heal.) About six weeks ago, they strapped an electrical bone stimulator on me which I wear 10 hrs a day. I, surely hope it works, otherwise bone graft surgery.
But it is not going to keep me down. My husband bought me an electric wheelchair and outside of almost destroying all the doorways, I keep on going and going. Remember get rid of that bad attitude and try to acquire a good one; who knows it might be the difference between life and death.
Try to join a support group. We have a group of women from 5 to 16 at any given time. We meet once a month for dinner. We try different restaurants; give each other moral support etc. IT IS TRULY WONDERFUL!