Susan Scarff, 63
It all started one balmy day, (110 degrees), in Phoenix, Arizona, May, 2012. I remember thinking, “this heat is really getting to me. I feel like I have another urinary tract infection. What does this make—2-3 so far this year?” I was due for an annual check with my PCP and OBGYN, so I made appointments with both.
I complained of bloating, weight gain, and subtle pain in my lower abdominal region. While inspecting the area, my PCP said, “boy you have a lot of gas but I don’t feel anything abnormal.” I confessed that I do toot and burp a lot—loudly. I figured it was just an age thing. Oh boy, what a perk. I attempted to tinkle in the cups provided, hoping 2 drops of urine is enough. My PCP diagnosed me with another UTI as did my OBGYN. I was instructed to have photo opportunities taken of my bladder by one doctor; the other doctor felt it was not necessary. Since it was not mandatory, of course I did not go the urologists. It was also suggested that I to go on a diet. I thought to myself—I must have no metabolism left because I eat like a bird with plenty of fiber and I feel and look like a blimp. What’s up with this!
Feeling fat, sassy and not too energetic I made it through the summer on the coast and back to the coast for the holidays. Again at Christmas time I felt like I had another UTI. I was going to have to carry my tummy around in a wheel barrel soon. I had a house full of family coming for the holidays…yikes! Bactrim and Cipro were the antibiotics of choice only for the problem to return in March, 2013.
March, 2013… I made a trip to my PCP, again, but this time I was determined the Doc did not poo poo my concerns, pain, bloating, and weight gain. Again, he palpated my lower abdomen enough to produce a little yelp. Momentarily I looked around the room to see who screamed—it was me. I was instructed to get a CAT scan immediately and had a blood test done called a CA125. At the time, I did not have a clue as to what kind of a test that was. Of course, I didn’t ask.
Fast forward…back to my PCP for all of the results. CA125 was 70 and the CAT scan indicated there were a couple of masses on both ovaries. My PCP said. “I’m not convinced this is cancer but I’m sending you to a gynecological cancer specialist.” What? Several dirty words and I am in to see the cancer doctor.
April Fool’s, today is your surgery. Several hours and many amusing hallucinations later… the surgeon apologetically revealed that I have Stage 3C, high grade serous carcinoma or OC. He removed my peritoneum, omentum, complete hysterectomy, and appendix, just for fun…. no lymph nodes involved. Well at least there was some good news. Thank goodness my sister and BFF were in my room because I did not remember a thing for several days following surgery. During surgery they implanted 2 ports I was also not aware of. Scheduled to go home within 3-4 days, my stay turned into 19 smelly days in the hospital because my intestines were not cooperating. A tube down my nose, lots of vomiting and diarrhea. Eighteen days later my intestines finally resumed their normal flow. The only good part of the stay was the tiny furry creature they brought into my room to cheer me up. It did, but also produced great heaps of sobbing, in delight? That was special.
A week later back to the surgeon’s office weak as a newborn. “We recommend 6 months of chemotherapy through an IP port as well as a chest port. And,” he said, “you will lose all of you hair…everywhere.” Everywhere? “We need to start your chemo without delay.”
I made it through chemotherapy in September, 2013 with a few bumps in the road and currently happy as a clam to still be in an upright position having just reached the age of 63. Indeed the good doctor was correct about “the hair.” On a positive note, with no eyebrows, eyelashes, head hair, etc., I could get ready for my day in about 10 minutes!
Since I’m not the village idiot I should have connected the dots. Mom had uterine cancer, Sister had colon cancer, Aunt had breast cancer, and me with OC There is a correlation but neither I nor the doctors put two and two together. Please ladies, be proactive and a deafening advocate for yourself. Request the CA125 test if only as a prophylactic measure and pay attention to what your body is telling you.