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September 19th, 2008
09:33 AM ET

Ovarian cancer: positive thinking

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a disease that touches more than 20,000 women each year, including some of CNN’s own. Karen Bonsignore, executive producer of CNN Entertainment News, got her diagnosis in May. Every Friday this month, she’ll share parts of her personal journey.

By Karen Bonsignore
Executive Producer, CNN Entertainment News

When you have cancer, your well-meaning family and friends are likely to tell you that in order to keep the disease at bay you need to think positively. To help my mind from straying, I was given an assortment of life-affirming gifts: prayer beads blessed by the Dalai Lama, a St. Christopher medal, bracelets and necklaces with charms for good health, books and meditations. I even bought a few for myself.

While I was still in the hospital recovering from surgery I imagined that there was an intricate community that lived inside me. There were seamless, titanium walls that lined the inside of my body. I chose dozens of tiny people to live there including architects and engineers, chefs who specialized in preparing only the healthiest and most nutritious foods, physical trainers, Olympic weightlifters, and NFL linebackers who were responsible for ensuring that the walls held up. Together they promised not to let any rogue cancer cells in. Ever.

When I returned home from the hospital I put up a Post-It note on my bathroom mirror that read:

May 27, 2008
Today I am CANCER FREE

Beneath those words I counted each day post surgery. I thought that I would count to 365, at which time I would celebrate a year of being cancer free. I was vigilant about marking the days until one Thursday I simply forgot. By the time I realized that I’d stopped, I’d lost count altogether. I didn’t need to look back to see how far I’d come; I knew very well what I’d been through and I only wanted to face forward.

I’m a firm believer in the mind-body connection but I’m here to tell you that it’s nearly impossible to think positively when your bones hurt, your muscles ache, you’re nauseated and you’re so exhausted you can barely move. In fact, some people believe that if they don’t think positively all of the time, they will somehow cause their cancer to return. For me, dark thoughts are inevitable, and when they surface I allow them to enter, I feel them and acknowledge whatever fear comes to pass, and then I ask them to leave. On one particularly difficult day I asked my son, Cody, how I was supposed to remain positive when I felt so awful? He answered simply: I guess you just have to believe that tomorrow will be a better day. And so I do.

I believe that tomorrow will be a better day. I believe that I am strong. I believe that I’m meant to do more here on this Earth. I believe that I will be cured. I believe that I will live.

How has positive thinking affected you?

Editor’s Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Christina

    I really appreciate your article, and your willingness to share. My mother-in-law is in the last stages of ovarian cancer, having battled it for the last 4 or 5 years. She's been through several surgeries and countless chemo sessions. Despite her pain and discomfort, she has always tried to focus on others, rather than herself. She has been a comfort to other cancer patients in her "chemo group" and an inspiration to family and friends alike. She has truly had a positive outlook. It's hard for her now, though, since she feels her time is coming to an end. I hope that we can show her somthing close to the same strength and comfort she has shown others.

    September 19, 2008 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Kia

    It's so great that you are sharing your journey. I was diagnosed last October at the age of 33. Positive thinking is something that I truly subscribe to, like the day you described with your son, some days were harder than other's and on those days my husband had enough POSITIVE thoughts for all of us!!

    September 19, 2008 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Cheyanne Brown

    I feel bad for people who have cancer. I couldn't think about have cancer anywhere in my body I think I would give up over a matter of time so people who have cancer they are hopefully going to make it though their cancer and live to tell about it the live with having cancer.

    September 22, 2008 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Kimberly Boer

    Hey. i am a ovarian cancer survivor myself. It will be 3 years come january 18th. These Blog entries are OUTSTANDING!

    September 22, 2008 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Barney Creech

    I am inquiring about DCA, better known as dicloracetic acid, diacloroacetate. I would like to take the liberty to provide you with the the site at the University of Alberta DCA. I have been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and given 9 – 20 months to live. I would greatly appreciate you views or thoughts on DCA. Glenn Beck did a segment on this earlier this year. Thank you Barney

    September 22, 2008 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Stephanie

    Thank you for sharing your experience. People think if you are not positive all the time, then you need help and I tell them it is normal to have fears and go through a variety of emotions when dealing with cancer. May you have peace and wellness throughout your life.

    September 23, 2008 at 19:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Deborah

    I was diagnosed at 41 with ovarian cancer. Ladies make sure to have an annual exam with gynecologists. It could save your life. If you find yourself waking up to use the bathroom often at night . If your stomach is protruding more than normal. These were about the only symptoms I had. Also my pap smear was normal. I was so very fortunate to have a wonderful doctor who discovered it early. After seeing an oncologist gynecologist for 5 years, he just released me this week. I am so very happy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 24, 2008 at 07:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Shari

    Today is my 46th birthday and I am celebrating. I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in February of 2007. Today, with the grace of God and the incredible medical staff who attended to me I am cancer free. I was never one for support groups or blogs to help me endure the healing process. I had my wonderful husband to hold me. Each day was a learning experience as I spent time with myself, exploring who I was and who I wanted to be. But I was never alone. As expected there were good days and frustrating days and painful days. Each of these were important for the end result. I guess I did not try to think long term. Take each day as God has given it and try to figure out what you are to learn that day. Then, who are you to teach, who can you help? The difficult days are as important as the easy ones, sometimes more so. It is through the fire of living that the soul is strengthened for what is to come next. It need not take cancer to experience that introspection but sometimes I need to be hit over the head with a 2 x 4 to get me to listen. How about you, are you listening, learning, teaching?

    September 24, 2008 at 07:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Mary

    My mother died from ovarian cancer six years ago, but until the very end she never gave up hope. I loved her attitude. If someone asked how she was, her reply: "I have cancer but I'm trying to get rid of it". Just like getting rid of a cold. She couldn't taste her food due to the chemo, but she ate it because she knew before the chemo she liked it. Her lifelong positive attitude made that final year of her life bearable for all of us.

    September 24, 2008 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Deedee

    I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer November 2006. Since then I have had two surgeries and went through six months of chemo. My last surgery was in May 2008 and I thought everything would be better, but I found out two weeks ago it is back for the third time. I start chemo for the second time this week. I just wanted to say thanks for the article. You do not see much reported about ovarian cancer and not as much attention is drawn to it as other cancers. Once again, thanks for the article.

    September 24, 2008 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Barbara Argent

    Thank you so much for your comments. I was diagnosed in Sept of 2007, and am cancer free now for 7 months. Staying positive makes such a tremendous difference. It keeps the dark thoughts at bay, and really helps you go on to another day. Not enough ovarian cancer patients, either actively fighting or surviving share their story. We need each other's strength too.

    September 24, 2008 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Deb

    My ovarian tumor was discovered during a routine exam by my family physician. Three months later I underwent a radical hysterectomy and a tumor the size of a 4-month fetus was removed. It was identified as a Brenner tumor. Initial testing during surgery declared the tumor benign but further testing uncovered a small malignancy in it's initial stages – Stage 1 ovarian cancer.

    I'm one of the lucky ones – I had ovarian cancer but didn't know it until that cancer had been completely removed. Because the doctors were confident that the cancer had been eliminated I did not have to endure chemo or other forms of cancer treatment. I do however have to go through the 5-year monitoring cycle.

    I recently celebrated my first full year of being cancer-free. Four more to go. My attitude has always been positive and will continue to be. I consider myself extremely lucky and I think of my brush with a potentially deadly disease as being given the gift of a "freebie" as well as a wake-up call.

    The one thing that I can pass along to other women is the absolute importance of regular GYN check-ups whether it be with one's family physician or an OB/GYN specialist. That alone, in my own case literally saved my life.

    September 24, 2008 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Anthony Smith

    My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in September 2006.
    After the diagnoses, she and I decided that we would take it on as a team. I witness this strong and loving woman fight and fight and also I introduced her to all of the positive thinking books and tried to provide motivation throughout the journey. My mother had to undergo chemo on two different occasions until we were told in June 2008 that noting was working. My dear mother passed away on June 18, 2008. I pray that the studies will help others not have to go through this journey.

    September 24, 2008 at 09:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Joan

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for your thoughtful post. My attitude/approach to ovarian cancer is similiar to yours. The diagnosis has made me live very much in the present. No matter how rotten the day may seem to be going, I usually find a way to shake myself up and appreciate just being here. I try to think of chemo as my friend even though at times I've been pretty low physically.

    I was diagnosed in February 06 with ovarian cancer staged 3C. I had chemo and then a debulking along with heated abdominal chemo. This kept me disease free for 11 months. A suspected bowel obstruction due to scar tissue was discovered during surgery to actually be the return of the disease. A foot of my small intestine was removed and after several weeks recovery I started into another six months of chemo. Halfway through I developed a severe allergic reaction to one of the meds and had to stop that but continued with the second drug until January 08.

    A routine CT scan in April 08 showed a golf ball size tumor on my spleen with smaller tumors on my bladder. My surgeon is reluctant to perform another major abdominal surgery so I started right into chemo for another 6-8 months. This week I'll have my first PET scan since resuming treatment and hope to see reduction in size of these tumors.

    Keeping positive thoughts for everyone suffering through this disease and thankful for the ongoing research in the battle against this thing.

    September 24, 2008 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Missy

    I need some help....Just a couple weeks ago I went to emergency room and they did several test on me. The results were a 5.1 centimeter mass on my left ovary. I was quickly referred to an onologist ob/gyn. My CA125 is low so he said it was totally up to me when I had surgery. He recommended that I wait 3 months to recheck my CA125 and then have the surgery not matter what the results were. My thoughts are, why wait? Either way I have to have the surgery and if it is cancer then its better out than in me. I do have other illnesses that are against me, like I'm a diabetic and I've had several back surgeries but I'm only 38 years old. Can I get some of your thoughts on this? I would greatly appreciate any of your comments. Thanks

    September 24, 2008 at 11:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Becky

    My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1989 at the age
    of 69. She battled the cancer for almost 5 years through four surgeries and many rounds of chemo. She always kept a positive attitude, continued to work part time and stayed very involved in our church. I was so amazed that she never felt sorry for herself but was only concerned about those who loved her. I truly believe that a positive attitude does help the body heal and fight this disease.

    September 24, 2008 at 11:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jan

    I'm so glad to see CNN reporting on ovarian cancer! It is so overlooked as the media and most organizations concentrate on breast cancer. I was diagnosed with Stage IIIc ovarian cancer in Nov. 2006, had a complete hysterectomy and debulking, then four months of chemo. I've been getting stronger and eating healthier, but I still go from month to month getting my blood test and worrying whether I have a reoccurrence. (The chances are 70-90%.)
    But meanwhile, I've been writing a blog to family and friends to share the highs and the lows, and soon that will be the basis of a book I'm writing.
    Thanks for your blog!

    September 24, 2008 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Vanessa

    My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 89 years. She chose to fight it with everything she had. She was not afraid to die, she just didn't want to leave her loved ones. Sadly for all of us, she lost her battle on Halloween day, 2004. She was the strongest & most courageous person I have ever known. If I were to quote her, I think I would tell everyone "Never give up".

    September 24, 2008 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Dayton OH JM

    I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer 20 years ago when I was 28. It’s God’s grace for these years. I have two amazing children after the chemo. Also, I have a wonderful doctor, Dr. Nahhas, who decided to keep my other good ovary and uterus so I can enjoy being a mom!

    September 24, 2008 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Marilyn

    My ovarian cancer was found in May of 2006 by my primary care physician. I went to a gynecological oncologist at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass. who was wonderful. I had a hysterectomy and it was also discovered that I also had uterine cancer. My ovarian cancer had been discovered very early. I went through 18 weeks of chemo and a little spot radiation. I've been cancer free and healthy since!

    September 24, 2008 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. christine

    my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in august 1990. she had been feeling bloated, full after eating only a tiny bit and pain in her abdoman. when it was finally discovered she had a c125 of over 700. she had a nasal tube into her stomach and was unable to eat anymore. she had an exploratory surgery and they found it had spread all through her abdoman and chest cavity. they tried chemo but she was to sick to tolerate it. we were able to get her home in december of 1990 and she passed in january 1991. she was only 61 and i miss her very much. she fought so hard. if i can be as strong a woman as she facing what she had to face i will be happy. i hope someday they have a test or vaccine for this horrible disease. may god bless anyone fighting cancer.

    September 24, 2008 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. phyllis

    My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Oct 2005. She went directly to a gyn/onc and had surgery. She had been complaining of BAD pelvic pains and felt like she had a baby in her belly. She had the debulking done and decided from the pathlogy report that she would not have chemo (she had a type that was resistent to her type of cancer). Luckily (knock on wood) she has been cancer free for 3 years now, but I constantly think about it returning, every time we go to the doctor. I also am diligent in checking my CA-125 level and have sonograms regularly. I think about ovarian cancer invading my home every day. The symptoms they tell you about can be anything...When are we going to defeat this monster called cancer?

    September 24, 2008 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Cheryl

    I’m glad to see CNN reporting on ovarian cancer! It is so overlooked by the media. I was diagnosed in 2000 at the age of 38 at a high stage of ovarian cancer IIIC. Have been in remission a few times and have gone through a few surgeries and many chemo treatments. Lady’s please listen to your body. There are signs bloating, back pain, full after eating only a few bites of food, frequent urination, these are all signs. Please don’t ignore the whispers…. This is a terrible disease, but never give up positive attitude and the grace of god is everything. Remember every day is a new day and new treatment are being developed and hopefully a cure. I look forward to the day that they come out with ovarian cancer screening. It looks promising. Thanks for this blog.

    September 24, 2008 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Ann

    On Monday I lost a dear friend of 30 years to ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed three years ago at Stage 3 (as you hear so often, it was not caught early enough). She was an amazing woman who touched so many lives that they are expecting more than 700 people at her memorial service this weekend. I just want to say thanks for writing about this topic - due to my friend's illness and articles like this I am being more vigilant than ever about my own health.

    September 24, 2008 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Madelynn

    I was 53 in May, 2005 when I was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer, and had the surgery and chemo. My CA-125 was 710 before surgery, and went down to 5 by the end of the chemo. The past several CA-125 tests have shown the number is going back up steadily and is now at 116. Facing chemo again is very difficult for me because the first round was pretty horrible, and I haven't been the same since. I wonder how I can agree to do that to myself again. It was such a grim period, and when it was over, I was so tired I slept most of the next year. I don't really think positive thinking has anything to do with the outcome, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten this to begin with. I was in the best shape of my life right before the diagnosis, and felt strong and positive about the future. For me, positive thinking when I actually feel that way is a help in coping with this from day-to-day. But I let myself feel the full range of emotions as they arise, and try to face the reality of recurrence being so common. I grapple with heading down the chemo path again and then having it come back anyway, then again, and again, and spending most of what's left of my life feeling lousy. I realize it's all that medicine has to offer at this point in time, but that doesn't mean I have to keep doing it. For me, it's a quality of life issue. Does anyone ever want to just live out the rest of whatever time you have left without any more of this brutal treatment.

    September 24, 2008 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Eileen

    Today is September 23rd and I am still mourning the loss of my 87 year old mother who passed away from ovarian cancer on August 26th. My mom was a tough New Englander as they say, and although she was being treated for "old age bowell issues" by her gastroenterologist for a year, I saw that her abdomin was continuing to enlarge, she could eat only a small amount before she was full, and loss of weight, she continued to believe her doc was correct. We were able to finally get this tough lady to see an oncologist and was told 2-3 months. Three weeks later she was gone. She never used the word pain, just discomfort, spent the 3 weeks she had with laughter at old photos, having her grandchildren and great grandchildren visiting and leaving me a note to remind me of her love and wishes. She was born in her home 87 years ago and wanted to die there, no chemo. She said "I don't mind dying, I am ready to be with your father again, I just hate missing out on what will be going on without me." She did it her way, but I can only say, never hesitate for a second opinion, you owe it to yourself. I worked in the medical field for years, and I never hesitated to tell our patients to check out their condition with somebody else. To my mom.....I will miss you each day and only hope to have your courage when my time comes.

    September 24, 2008 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Kathy

    I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when I was 37 years old. Stage 2C. Today I am 53 and cancer free. To all of you just diagnosed, please get the very best doctors you can and never, ever give up. I feel I was blessed with misfortune as it made me really start living. I have learned to love every day I have on earth and to realize what is important in life and what is not. May God bless and watch over you all.

    September 24, 2008 at 14:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Geurin

    I was diagnosed in August 2006 at the age of 27. Today, I am celebrating over two years of being cancer free. Positive is the only way to be. What else is there? You could step outside and die in a car wreck today, but that doesn't stop you from living every day to the best of your ability. I have found that humor has made the cancer easier for my family and friends. If we can all cry and then laugh then we can heel and move on. It makes it easier for us to talk about it.

    I am also eternally grateful to Dr. Yap at SEGO in Atlanta. She is amazing and I will be indebted to her for the rest of my long, long life. :)

    September 24, 2008 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Connie Leitner

    I am thankfully a six-year survivor of Stage IIIC ovarian cancer. I have lived three years longer than the docs thought. I lean on God for my life and for His healing.

    Do the research and find out about the CA-125 – it's no good and certainly no help to us ovarian cancer patients. It's simply a marker once you're diagnosed and it's a lousey marker even then.

    I deal with reality, but I'm still a very positive person. I seek the Lord's face in all that I do. The reality is there is no such thing as cancer free when it comes to ovarian cancer. You must be ever vigilant and look for the signs, the signs that whisper that it's back. It came back for me in the summer of 2007 because I recognized the symptoms, not because the docs knew it was back. I kept bugging the docs until they gave me a Petscan and saw that I was right. Chemo ever since.

    Be vigilant my ovca sisters. Don't live for cancer, but be aware of the whispers.

    God bless,

    Connie

    September 24, 2008 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Kathy

    Madelynn: My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer one December, many yrs. ago. . She underwent chemo for about 3 months, then decided she didn't want to do it anymore. She would literally pass out from being so sick after the treatments. We respected her decision for a while, but later convinced her to go to another facility (closer to home) for chemo again. (This was our selfish nature wanting to keep her with us a little longer). She agreed and went for a couple months,but, again, decided she didn't want it anymore. She passed away the following December. The answer to your question is YES, there are patients who decide they want no part of this brutal treatment. My biggest fear has always been ovarian cancer, with my chances of getting it being strong since it runs in our family a lot. I have always thought that I wouldn't choose chemo if I was faced with that decision, but I think nature takes over when you're facing death, and the desire to live a bit longer becomes first priority. Everyone chooses what's right for them and if quality of life is most important, everyone around you should respect your decision. I will pray that you choose a decision right for you. May God bless you and keep you. You sound like a brilliant and strong lady.

    September 24, 2008 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Madalin

    I am 53 years old and was just diagnosed two weeks ago with ovarian cancer. I'll be starting 18 weeks of chemo in the next 3 weeks or so. I'm glad I found this blog because I have been a little scared, not knowing what to expect. I've been positive and upbeat, but as some of you said, sometimes you just feel sad. I also am wrestling with whether or not I'll go back to work or take off a few months while I have the chemo. Any suggestions about that?

    September 24, 2008 at 23:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Aleta Coxen

    I am 47 , DX on June 9th 2008 , its been a whirl wind of a summer. I was being treated for IBS and even my OB missed it. During a cruise with our best friends I got worse. My stomach was so bloated I couldn't eat, walk or sleep w/o pain in my back and just down right uncomfortable. A trip to the OR the day after we returned is where we were told I had Ovarian Cancer . June 23rd I had a huge surgery , and I just had my 4th chemo treatment . My CA-125 was 1600 before the surgery and is going down , now at 85. Chemo SUCKS....there's no nice words to say about it , they numbers going down is the only reason I'm still doing it , and the fact I have a wonderful husband and three children. This BEAST has had one good side , I (my family) have found out just how lucky we are to have friends and family who we KNOW love us and care for us deeply , there are no words to say thank you for everything they have done for us. We can not get through this w/o them , we have been overwhelmed by their kindness , and for that I am greatfull. I will fight this with all I've got for them and me! Good luck to all of you and your families. :-)

    September 25, 2008 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Jan

    I was diagnosed with stage IIIC in January 2008 at which time, I had a complete hysterectomy. Since the prognosis for ovarian cancer is not good, my husband and I decided to get the best care that I could and went to the best hospital about 180 miles away. There was a fist sized tumor on my ovary and some on the surface of my liver and my diaphram, but none in my lymph nodes. The doctor was able to skim off the cancer on my liver and diaphram, and of course he removed the tumor. I had 3 cycles of carboplatin and taxol via an IV port. Then while having an Intraperitoneal port installed, numerous sprinkle sized tumors were seen on my abdomen. As a result, Doxil replaced the Taxol. I then had 6 cycles of Intraperitoneal carboplatin and a concurrent 6 cycles of IV Doxil. While removing my abdominal port in August, the doctor took a "wash" of my abdomen and put it under a microscope. It showed no cancer. I credit my cancer free verdict with the quality of care I received at the best hospital with the best doctor, the Intraperitoneal administration of chemo which is 6 times more effective than IV chemo, and Vitamin D. Part way through my chemo treatments, I learned of an association of insufficient Vitamin D levels and increased cancer. Since I had insufficient Vit D levels in my blood, I began taking 8000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily. The other thing I would like to share is that I heard that L-Carnitine, an amino acid, helped with fatigue. I started taking 250 mg daily of L-Carnitine and within 2 weeks, I had no more fatigue.

    Along with many others who have commented here, I appreciate your coverage of ovarian cancer.

    September 25, 2008 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Carl Santaniello

    My wife is in recurrence with ovarian cancer – I am her caregiver-
    We were dissappointed to say the least when we found out that
    her cancer was back, but my wife never gives up – she is convinced
    that she will beat this disease. It obviously has positive effect because her CA125 marker numbers have dropped over 830 points in just 8 weeks of treatment which has her doctors in amazement.
    To all cancer patients- don't give up- that is why they call you a survivor.
    With the current state of research – cancer patients have a greater
    chance of long term survival than ever before. Think Positive –
    Faith can move mountains.....

    September 26, 2008 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Juan

      Gina and I miss you and Ellen soo much. Both of you have touched our lives...

      February 14, 2011 at 12:01 | Report abuse |
  35. Martha Sutherland

    I was diagnosed on August 9, 2006, with Stage IV ovarian cancer with a 4,300 tumor marker level. I only went to a doctor after my stomach bloated–never been been sick in my life. Never smoke, never drank, exercised, took vitamins for years and had my fair share of fruits and veggies–did everything right. I am inoperable because the cancer has spread to my right lung. I breezed along just fine until late December last year. The cancer totally blocked my colon, and after thirteen days in the hospital, with life-saving surgery the first of the year, I left the hospital with a permanent colostomy and a feeding tube. My surgeon did not want to operate with the cancer pretty well spread over my abdomen, but finally had no choice. I have had far, far more trouble dealing with a colostomy than cancer itself. I have a large stoma, and have had trouble in trying to find the right appliance. At any rate, long story short-to survive, I must have chemo. Last week I had my 72nd chemo session. I have gone down the list of drugs, and my oncologist put me back on Taxol by itself the first of the year. My CA 125 had gone down to 80, but the past six weeks, it has gone up to 121 which I'm not greatly concerned about since I started out at over 4,000. I'm now 64 years of age and work full-time eight hours a day, five days a week. I have not been sick one single time with chemo and drive myself to and from the sessions. Chemo has been a piece of cake for me. The only thing I deal with is fatigue and, of course, the colostomy. According to "statistics," I shouldn't be here, but I feel God is not finished with me yet.–and truly believe in the power of prayer. I am actively involved in a local public awareness campaign to make women aware of ovarian cancer through speaking at civic clubs, forums, have been in a TV series, and the subject of magazine articles. Our local TV was allotted 2 minutes for the national Stand-up-2-cancer program a month ago, and I was privileged to be a part of the 2-minute segment. My mission for the rest of my life (whether 3 months or 3 years) is to spread the word and to encourage women to listen to their bodies. Cancer is my enemy, and I'm engaged in a fight for my life!

    September 26, 2008 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Judy

    I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August 2004 at age 51. After reading all these posts I still just shake my head that ovarian cancer is so often ignored by the press! I went to a support group immediately and it was SUCH a help.

    September 27, 2008 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Grace

    Dear Madalin: I would like to offer a little advice, and just to let you know there are people out here and you are not alone. I am a Registered Nurse and had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2003. (Had chemo, surgery and radiation) and had a lot of other unrelated things wrong with me also at the time. I was 53, and so quit work for good. Whether you take time off from work will depend on these things in my opinion
    1. Do you have family and friends who will come by and make up for the camaraderie you might miss that you currently have at work?

    2. Some chemo causes an incredible fatigue that is hard to believe, and you might want to sleep a lot–at work you probably could not take naps, so keep that in mind.

    3. If you are going to sit at home and worry and find you do not have as much fatigue, then I would go back to work.

    4. Do you depend on your work solely for income and insurance? Do they have short and long term disability to care for you during your treatment period? If so, then I would take the time off, rest and good nutrition is very important and struggling with work and chemo treatments, going to the store, fixing snacks, etc. plus dealing with possible fatigue could be tough. You can always go back to work if your disability plan with allow you to come and go. I would talk to my PR person and find out what your disability rules are.

    These are just some ideas, I wish you the best and may God bless you! Grace

    September 28, 2008 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Madelynn

    Reading all your notes lets me know that I am not alone. I have to say that during my treatment, the overwhelming feeling I had besides the usual ones, was gratitude. The doctors and the nurses spent their lives preparing and helping strangers like me, and they do it with such patience and compassion. One of the after-effects that I had was an incisional hernia from the original surgery. In my support group, I found out that was pretty common. I had the surgery for that this past January, and they opened up the same incision again to fix it.I wish us all good news and the strength to still find some joy in life.

    September 29, 2008 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Madelynn

    Dear Kathy:
    Thanks for your kind, supportive words and for sharing your mother's story. I'm sure her passing was a terrible loss for all of you. It sounds like you did all you could for her. She had to be the one to decide how much she was willing to endure. That's the same decision we all have to make. I wonder a lot about that, and what it is like to die of this cancer. Can I ask how she was near the end? I'm very sorry to learn that ovarian cancer runs in your family. Two of my sisters have had breast cancer, and one of my sisters died this year of a brain tumor. I'm considering genetic testing, if only to add the results to our family medical history.

    September 29, 2008 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Donna C. Mullen

    I lost my very beautiful,active, talented Mother to ovarian cancer seven years ago. I think of her every day and will always marvel at her bravery. She never thought of herself except to express disgust that she could not do more. She was diagnosed with stage 1V at 78 and was given two years, but because of her determination and courage she lived almost three. It is a terrible disease and I am so happy that people are talking about it and bringing awareness to it. My Mom suffered for six months before her doctor did anything. He kept sending her home and said she had a virus!!!!! That still haunts me!! My heart goes out to all who are fighting this nasty disease and I pray there will be a better method of detection for OV soon. I get checked every 6 mos. and do what I can to be proactive and I hope all women who read this and have a history are proactive. Right now that is all we have!!

    September 30, 2008 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Angie

    Karen – Good luck with your treatments and in just plain dealing with ovarian cancer. Your words give encouragement to others with this nasty disease. I had to laugh because I was one of those people who thought they had to stay positive all the time or I would have a recurrence. I found it is impossible to stay positive all the time, but a person must certainly try to stay positive as much as possible or we will end up in the looney bin. I was diagnosed in November 2006 with Stage III ovarian cancer and have had three major surgeries, plus chemo, plus radiation since then. Only 1% of women with ovarian cancer have the type I have and it is chemo resistant – so no more chemo for me! This isn't a pleasant thing to live with, but I find I think about it less and less everyday. As with everyone who is stricken with something like this, all of my priorities have changed and what happens to other people is much more important to me than what happens to me.

    Thanks, again, for your words. We need to all stick together and conquer this thing!

    October 1, 2008 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Kathleen

    My mom was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer at age 62 after taking Hormones for Hot Flashes years earlier. This was in 2000. The cancer was found outside the ovarian area by the liver but not in it. My mom went through Chemo and was cancer free. Then last year in 2007, the dr's noted a new growth stating it was cancer but just as big of a pencil eraser. In 2008 September they scheduled surgery for her to remove three small tumors and go back through chemotheraphy. Unfortunately on last week she has surgery and found that it is now in her liver. They didn't know that so when they opened her up to get the stomach cancer, the cancer was in the liver and there was no liver specialists. Now we must wait and get a liver MRI and move forward. It's terrible watching your mom suffer.

    October 28, 2008 at 23:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Cathie

    I am so thankful to find this blog. I had surgery Aug, 08, for a large Ovarian tumor. The surgery was extensive, as I believe it usually is. They said the tumor was somehow "contained" although on the outside of the ovary. The pathology was good after the surgery. I am now going for my 3rd month of chemo. I don't know how anyone could work during this regimin. I have been pretty sick the first week of treatment and lost 8lbs by the end of that week for the first 2 months. I feel like I spend the best part of the month trying to regain the weight so I won't lose ground for the next round. I seem to have more memory problems than usual and that is also a concern. There is a history of Cancer in my family so I guess I was not too surprised at the age of 61 when I found that I have Cancer. In spite of that the diagnosis has hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to sell my business and my life consists of the fight to survive. At this stage I am hoping to "get through" the chemo and have some good time in remission. I am not afraid to die but I am very fearful of an extended illness. While in Chemo I have met women who are in their 3rd and 4th round of Chemo. I don't know how anyone does it except that Chemo seems to be the only choice if you are fighting to survive.

    November 11, 2008 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Patt

    I was very faithful in seeing my Ob-Gyn every year. I saw him in January 2004 and was given a clean bill of health and in June 2004 after seeing a general practitioner for a bladder infection, (he found a large cyst) I was diagnosed with 3C ovarian cancer. Before I could see a new Ob-Gyn the cyst had ruptured and I had emergency surgery. I was referred to a Gyn-Oncologist and he performed debulking surgery. I then had 8 rounds of Carbo-Taxol (every six weeks). Two years after completing the Carbo-Taxol my CA125 had risen so they started me on Doxil which I receive every 4 weeks. I just had my 27th infusion of Doxil. My CA125 is rising slowly now up to 70.1. I hope to have at least a few more Doxil infusions before I must switch to another drug. I have been more than fortunate as I only had mild side affects to the chemo and never missed a day of work. I do believe a good positive attitude along with strong support and prayers from family and friends is why I have done so well. I pray for all that suffer from this horrific disease and that some day SOON they will find a cure.

    December 2, 2008 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Rachel

    In honor of September being National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, this Friday, September 18, 2009 at 12:30 PM, we will be holding our Third Annual Live Webcast on Ovarian Cancer. The webcast will be held at the Omni Parker House Hotel (60 School Street) in Boston in the Press Room. Coalition members, survivors and doctors will be answering your questions. To view the live webcast, visit http://www.ovariancancerawareness.org and click under the event “Live Webcast” where it states, “click here to watch.” You will then be asked to log in with your name. The live feed will begin at 12:00 PM and the broadcast will start at 12:30 PM.

    September 16, 2009 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. joan osborn matteuzzi

    My Mom had a CA 125 of 1600. in Sept. 2009 when she was diagnosed. The tumor had already spread to her lymph system (sternum and neck) by the time they found it. It was judged inoperable, stage IV ovarian cancer. AFter 4 or 5 sessions of chemo, which really devastated her (Taxol and another kind), her CA 125 is now at 130. Thank God it is not in the lungs. She is 80 so at that age I understand tumors grow slowly, does that sound like a lot of nonsense? Because of her difficulty with the chemo (itching, tingling in fingers, numbness in fingers, loss of memory and reasoning powers, dizziness, fatigue) the docs have put her on Tamoxifen rather than chemo. I have urged her to use progesterone cream because progesterone slows down cell growth, as well as drinking Kombucha tea which supports the immune system and detoxifies the body. I also talked her into taking turmeric. She was diagnosed in Oct. 2009 and we are now in January 2010. I hope she will be around and feeling OK for a long time.

    January 26, 2010 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.