Monday, December 12, 2016

OVC Questions

My Cousin asked me questions for her senior project.  I thought I'd post them along with my answers.

1.  What was your initial
reaction to your diagnosis?

I was in under shock. As a medical provider I knew the two cancers you never wanted to get were ovarian and pancreatic because they are the most deadly. I couldn't believe healthy me was being diagnosed with a disease that could potentially take my life. I remember sitting in the gyn office thinking he was going to tell me I had ovarian cysts or uterine fibroids and then when he told me I had cancer and it was pretty far progressed I broke down in tears.

2.  When you originally felt the masses, did ovarian cancer cross your mind as a possibility?
Never. OVC typically is a postmenopausal disease. I only felt the mass 1 week before I was diagnosed. And I thought it was an ovarian cyst or uterine fibroid. Never Cancer. I was running 4 miles a day up until 1 week before I was diagnosed and then I walk because the vaginal pressure prevented me from running. It was also pushing on my bladder and was on my sigmoid colon, which explained the year of frequent urination and diarrhea

3.  As a PA, did you have any experience with those with this cancer?
Never. When I worked in the ER in Charlotte I worked with a doctor my age whose mother was diagnosed with it in her 60's. That was the only person I have ever known who was diagnosed with it before I was. It makes me wonder if I ever missed this in my practice. If I have I have never heard of it.

4.  Has this trial helped you become a better PA?
Yes. It's made me have more compassion, mostly because I have had such amazing physicians and nurses. I think that I've always been a good PA, but in the emergency field it is hard to have the kind of relationships I have with my doctors and nurses in oncology. I am more apt to give more pain medication because of how it has helped me in my pain. I use to be called the narcotics natzi because I hardly gave narcotics because of the many drug seekers I see in the ER, mostly in Charlotte, not so bad where I work now.

5.  Which treatment has been the most successful for you? Was it worth the side effects?
That's a hard one. Probably the initial debulking surgery. I was on the table for over 8 hours. They said they were literally picking tumors the size of rice krispies out of me. I think that each phase has had some kind of an impact. The first round of chemo was miserable because they did every other treatment in my abdomen and it made my abdomen blow up which was super uncomfortable. 2 or the 3 have made me incredibly tired for a few days, I always call it a chemo coma. The treatment I started in April worked to improve my pain for a short time, but the masses eventually grew and so it really didn't work. With the radiation my pain has resolved so pain versus side effects I guess it is worth it to be out of pain. But most of all the side effects have been all worth it because the treatment has extended my life. Even though there are days, including last week when I felt like I didn't know how much more of the side effects I could endure. At the time its awful, but days like today I feel pretty normal.

6.  What aspect has been the hardest for you emotionally?
That my nieces and nephews have to be exposed to the words chemo and cancer. They can't possibly understand what is going on, but they have great faith. I was diagnosed when my oldest niece was almost 4. There was a day when I was crying and in pain and she went around the corner, knelt down and started praying for me. When I hear them pray for me it brings me to tears. When I lost my hair Aidree prayed for me and her sister who was 2 and just starting to talk said, Auntie Terah why you cry your hair grow back. Last week my 6 year old nephew asked me if the cancer was gone. I told him no. He said, will it be gone tomorrow. I said no, but you keep praying for me and hopefully it will be soon.
 At first it was hard knowing I'd never give birth to a child on this earth, but I believe every righteous women will have that opportunity in the future. Plus I realized even before I was diagnosed that I can be a mother by loving other mothers children. It is kind of hard to think that I might not be here in 5 years or 10 and that I will miss so many things including watching my nieces and nephews grow up. It is in these times that I have to think of it in the eternal aspect. I was given a 30-50% chance of being alive in 3-5 years. Those aren't great odds. I've lived 3 1/2. To think that yearly 22000 are diagnosed with OVC a year and 14000 die each year is scary.

7.  What has been your motivation through this?
My nieces and nephews and the Christmas Eve cookie/candy platters. Joking aside...When I was in the hospital my mom asked if she could bring me anything from home. I asked for one thing, it was a picture of the Savior. There are so many times through the years when times are tough and I don't think that I can continue that I look at a picture of the Savior, and I remember what He did for me. He suffered for our sins, but he also suffered for our emotion and physical pains, our heartaches and our disappointments. It helps me to get up every day and keep going. I'm motivated by the gospel and knowing that I'm being tested by my Heavenly Father. I agreed to this test in our premortal state and I'm going to follow through. I want to pass this test with flying colors. If I give up it means I didn't put forth all of my effort. The other thing that have learned is that everyone has a trial. Some are seen and some are unseen. There are so many others who have harder trials than I do.

8.  What's one thing you would tell your past self when you were first diagnosed?
You Can Do Hard Things. Yes, it's going to be hard and yes, you will have days when you want to give up but don't. Have faith, have hope, believe and trust in God for better days to come.

1 comment:

  1. What thought provoking questions and amazing answers!! all I can say is WOW!!!