October 19, 2009. The day we met with Mom's doctor again and heard what we already knew - it was definitely ovarian cancer. Clear cell - not the type of ovarian cancer with which 85% of women are diagnosed when they hear this dreadful news. Clear cell - more aggressive, harder to treat ovarian cancer.
She was diagnosed Stage 1C, the c because the tumor had ruptured (I mentioned that in another post so I won't go into it again here) but still - Stage 1. A good stage, it means the cancer was caught early. The doctor was still so positive.
Chemo was going to start pretty fast, the doctor didn't want to waste any time. She wanted to kill off any cells that might have escaped during surgery. I'm not 100% sure I'm yet clear on exactly all that we were told but it's my understanding clear cell is also a "surface" cancer. It likes to lay on the surface of things, like scales that aren't attached and they can slough off...floating through the body until they "land" elsewhere and start to grow there. Some of those cells probably escaped (definitely we'd find out later) and the doctor wasn't going to let any grass grow under their feet. She wanted them dead.
So did we.
Chemo would be quite arduous. Three weeks on and the "day" of chemo was exactly that - a day. Then she'd have one week off. It ended up scheduled so Mom would be "off" the week of Thanksgiving. Chemo would run through March and then in July she'd have a follow up CT scan and re-test on the CA-125. The number that particular CA-125 showed would be Mom's marker. It would be what her CA-125 would be measured against in the future. If it went up from that number the cancer was back. I should have written those numbers down, I don't remember exactly what they were. I do remember her highest CA-125 was in the 500's, which her doctor said was very encouraging - she had seen that number in the 5,000's. Normal is between 0-21. I think Mom went down to 19 at one point.
Chemo did exactly what you'd think it would do. Mom lost her hair, her energy, her appetite and her strength. We kept holding onto that March date, praying it would be the end of it and we could get back to life as normal.
That first round of chemo we didn't really think too much about things. This was just a blip on our family's radar. Mom would get through it, we would help as much as we could and then we'd go back to being our normal dysfunctional group. There isn't too much to say about those few months. I did a lot of extra work at work - Mom was out of the office a lot in that time but thank God for an awesome employer. There was no question they were helpful and supportive. Mom would come in every time she could drive herself down to the office because she would much rather hang out with the guys we worked with than sit at home and feel sorry for herself. Our co-workers carried her through a lot in those first few months. I'm still amazed at how blessed we were by them through the entire thing.
Next up...that first CT scan.