Robyn C’s Story

Hi, my name is Robyn and I would like to share with you my experience of going through ovarian cancer. On Thanksgiving of 2008 I was having extremely painful abdominal discomfort. I was at my sister’s for Thanksgiving. I remember the pain was so uncomfortable I stayed in bed. I had no idea that this was the onset of a series of symptoms that led to ovarian cancer. Throughout the coming weeks I was having more and more problems with abdominal gas pains and constipation. I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome many years prior to having the abdominal pain and constipation. I just knew that something was different. Throughout the coming weeks I would go to my doctor and several times I went to urgent care with difficulty resolving the constipation. Regardless of hearing the same diagnosis I just kept going back. I was extremely frustrated and not satisfied with all the outcomes of my doctor’s visits. In late December, 2008 I went to the gynecologist for my annual Pap smear and mammogram. The physical exam appeared to be no problems. The results of my pap smear were normal. In January, 2009, I felt a lump on the left side of my lower abdomen. I went to my doctor for a follow up. I asked him if it could be a result of the constipation because it shifted from the upper to lower part of the left side of my bowel. He felt it and told me if it did not go away I would need a CAT scan.

During this time I noticed I was having difficulty urinating. I felt a pressure on my bladder. I then went to have a transvaginal ultra sound. I remember the technician had a curious look on her face. He told me I had a 10cm mass on my left ovary. I knew at that moment I was in serious trouble. I asked him if I was going to die. He replied we will not go there and that I would have to have a hysterectomy. I went into shock! All I could think about was I did not have the luxury of time or money to take off work for an extended period of time. I could not believe this was happening to me! I am extremely health oriented person. Where did I fail? It all felt so surreal. I called my coworker and told her that I would not be back to work that day. I drove to a different campus and had a CT scan. This all had occurred on a Thursday. The technician told me it would take several days for the results to come back. I also had a CA125 blood test done that day. After the CT scan my stomach blew up. I looked six months pregnant. I thought it was a reaction from the dye of the CAT scan. The urgent care doctor looked at the CAT scan and told me the mass grew to 12cm. He checked results of my CA125. It was elevated to 135. I went numb! He told me this was of concern, yet it wasn’t conclusive. The following day I went to work. I received a message at work from the GYN oncologist saying I needed to see her immediately. The following morning I had an examination. The doctor told me there was a strong possibility I had ovarian cancer. I could not allow myself to feel how terrifying this was for me. The oncologist came in, did an exam and informed me I needed to have surgery immediately. I signed the surgical consents. I remember thinking, just get this mass out of me and move forward. I refused to think that I was going to die. I did know deep in my heart that it was ovarian cancer. During the next few days I got everything organized. Anybody who was an arms length away I asked them to pray for me. All were very responsive. I will always appreciate that! Friday I had my surgery. I remember waking up feeling tremendous pain and sedated from the surgery. I heard my husband say Robyn. I remember opening my eyes and asking him, do I have cancer? He nodded his head and softly said yes. I was told I had to have six rounds chemotherapy. At that time they did not know the stage of the tumor. They took out an approximate 26cm., equivalent to the size of a small basketball. Prior to receiving my first infusion I asked the nurse if we could pray. There we all were, myself,my husband and the nurse praying. I had my first infusion and was released a couple days later. I had 10 weeks off from work. My treatments were scheduled every three weeks. Being productive person, it was difficult after the sixth week to stay at home. The oncologist told me I would be able to go back to work after 10 weeks if I was stable. At 10 weeks I still had 3 more chemo treatments left. I didn’t care, I needed to go back to work, staying home and having the time to think was not helping me. I found out I was a stage 1b. The oncologist was pleasantly surprised as she thought from the size of the tumor I was going to be a 3b or 3c. I was and am still thankful. I went back to work and had some very trying moments but continued to fight to stay alive and have only positive thoughts.

I had and currently have tremendous support. More importantly I have grown spiritually. My faith is what got me through. My last chemo was 5/09. I continue to go for follow up appointments every two months. Every time I leave I have a sigh of relief that I made it through another exam. I thank God daily that I am alive. I am so deeply grateful for everyday I have. I do know that I have no guarantees for tomorrow. All I can do is live a day at a time and be mindful to be in the moment for that is all I do have. Thank you for allowing me to share this experience. My hope is for anybody who does read it this, will receive support, empowerment, education or all three. If so, I have accomplished my goal.