I have so much to live for. SO much. I have 3 wonderful girls and I can’t imagine dying while they’re still young. I can’t imagine not being at Tayla’s wedding if she chooses to get married. I can’t imagine not meeting Hazel’s first boyfriend. I can’t imagine not seeing Willa finish high school. Really, Willa is my biggest fear – what if I have way less time than I think and she doesn’t even remember me?
Low grade serous ovarian cancer is so unpredictable. When you google stage 4 low grade serous carcinoma, I’ve got a 5 year survival rate of 17%. I guess I see myself as a ‘good’ stage 4 though. I was ‘optimally debulked’ which is a really positive prognostic factor. That means they got all the visible cancer in surgery on the 8th November. Which is extremely positive. I’ve also got some worries – for starters it got to stage 4 without any particularly obvious symptoms. The symptoms for ovarian cancer are incredibly vague. I feel most women I know will have at least a couple of the symptoms. I had painful bloating, weight loss, and fatigue. I don’t feel like I’m a super sensitive person, but I’d been to the doctor about all three this year, then had an appointment about my lump. I wrote off the weight loss due to still breastfeeding Willa. I wrote off the fatigue due to having a young family, plus a teenager who gets home late. I wrote off the bloating due to dietary issues – I even saw a dietician and went on a low FODMAP diet to try and narrow down the cause of the painful bloating. My CT scan and MRI also really didn’t show the extent of the disease. Neither did my blood test of my CA125 level. My fear about it growing back, while all the screening tests come back clear aren’t exactly unfounded.
I also realise that no matter how positive I think, sometimes cancer is just too much to beat. I told Greg I’m too stubborn to die and let anyone else raise the kids – but what I left unsaid was that I may not have a choice. Because the reality is that no matter how strong you are, sometimes cancer just beats you anyway. But I’ll give it as much of a fight as I can. Plus, I still may be one of the lucky ones where I can go years without any further intervention needed. Cancer doesn’t care if you’re strong or not. Its a f**king tough road to travel for anyone going through it, but sometimes, its just too much no matter how much the person wants/needs to live through it.
Low grade serous carcinoma is rare (of course it is!) and there is still a lot of research to be done. It’s a really controversial question as to whether chemo is beneficial or not. The upside of low grade serous is that it is slow growing. The downside is that it doesn’t appear to be particularly responsive to chemo. Chemo works on rapidly dividing cells/cells that are significantly different to body cells. Low grade serous cells fly under the radar and are similar enough to body cells to not cause too much attention to the chemo. Which turns it into a hard-to-treat cancer.
I’m really fortunate that I’ve got some really amazing professionals looking after my care. I saw my medical oncologist yesterday evening and I knew whether to offer chemo or not was going to be the biggest question of the night. I expected Letrozole (a hormone inhibitor) as a maintenance for -I think- the rest of my life. But whether chemo was offered was something I was worried about/stuck on for quite some time.
Last night, my medical oncologist said that if it was her, she’d do chemo. I am young, and have a young family. I have a lot to live for. There is a chance it will help – and therefore its worth doing. I agree – in that I’ll try everything I can. I don’t want to regret not doing this and thinking back with a ‘what if’. I’m also happy to follow advice of medical experts.
So – chemo will start as soon as possible. Before Christmas. I was run through the side effects. I don’t think its going to be an easy time. I don’t think the kids will find it fun. But theres a chance it’ll help. So I’ll take it.