Victoria Schult

I know this about breast cancer but ovarian cancer is right there with it and this is my story. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 3C on April 11, 2014. I had seen my obgyn and internist since the previous October for originally a pain in my lower left side. Thinking it was a cyst on my ovary I went to my obgyn and seeing nothing she ordered a pelvic cat scan. The cat scan came back negative the end of October. Shortly after that my husband started experiencing heart problems and ended up having emergency surgery to have a pacemaker inserted. My pain was put on the back burner until after the holidays. But before New Years I went to my internist with bloating & painful gas issues but she told me she thought it was digestive issues, complicated with stress from my husbands health problems and the holidays and put me on a probiotic. My health has always been excellent. I had just turned 60 and kept in shape with walking and tennis and eating properly. There was no reason to expect cancer -I didn't have any cancer in my family!

From January-March I was feeling much better. My husband and I went to Florida for a week and had a great time walking the beaches and seeing friends. The week after we returned in March my stomach started blowing up. I went from normal to feeling 9 months pregnant in 10 days. My internist sent me for thyroid, & gallbladder tests but everything was normal. Finally I went for a pelvic ultrasound and the masses were discovered. I went to see a gynecological-oncologist and she told us the masses were very suspicious of ovarian cancer. She ordered a C125 blood test and to have my stomach drained. My stomach wasn't full of gas, as I thought , it was full of fluid!

They drained a gallon of fluid out of me the next day! And my C125 level came back elevated to indicate I had cancer in my system. A cat scan was ordered for the next day and on April 11th we met with my doctor. She officially told us I had ovarian cancer stage 3C. We couldn't believe it! My cat scan in October was negative -how could I have cancer 5 months later! The cancer had spread to my omentum which was why it was stage 3. She told us ovarian cancer is hardly ever caught earlier because there are really no warning signs or early detection tests.

Because of my good health and healthy lifestyle she believed there was no reason why I couldn't beat this even with the statistics! I never thought why me! In fact with 1out of 7 women developing ovarian cancer I was sort of glad it was me and not one of my 8 best girlfriends because they don't lead a healthy lifestyle and wouldn't be able to fight it like me!

The hardest part was telling my family and friends. Everyone was emotional but with my positive attitude, it made it more comfortable for everyone to hear the news. I didn't feel any different. If my doctor hadn't told me I had cancer I wouldn't believe it!!! So I declared my motto was 'Fight Like a Girl'! My dad coached boys football, baseball& basketball is whole career and was blessed with 3 daughters. We asked my dad to coach our girl's softball team one year back in the 70s and at each practice he would shake his head and yell 'you run like girls; you throw like girls; you catch like girls! So in honor of my dad I'm going to fight this cancer like a girl and beat it!

I was scheduled for a laparoscopic surgery, to see how much cancer was inside me, the next week. If my doctor felt she could remove 100% of the cancer a full hysterectomy and removal of the omentum would be performed. If not, she would stitch me up and I work start a 9 week chemo regimen to reduce the masses. To my dismay, the later was done. There were too many cancer clusters on several areas she felt she couldn't remove a 100%.

So on April 30th I started 3 cycles of chemo (3 weeks each). My C125 level was at 760. Three days later I walked a 5k with 45 family and friends for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) and ovarian cancer awareness. It was amazing!

I had no side effects from chemo! In fact I had more energy than I had in the last few months! My doctor said it was because I didn't realize how bad I had been feeling. Tennis had to be put on hold, which was very hard when you play 3-4 times a week. Luckily I work at the tennis club so i could still my friends and watch my team play!

By week 3 I had a port inserted and my hair was beginning to thin and come out. I decided right from the start this cancer would not dictate my life and I made the choice to shave my head. My 11 year old grandson shaved his head too in solidarity! He also made over 50 teal rubber brand bracelets to hand out for my family & friends! He's my biggest supporter! Teal is an acronym 'Take Early Action And Live' which is why teal is the color for ovarian cancer.

Week one of each cycles they take a C125 level. So after 3 weeks of chemo my cancer level dropped from 760 to 104 or over 650 points!! I had kidded my doctor this better be working because I was feeling great! No wonder, the chemo was working overtime!!

By the end of cycle 3, my cancer level had dropped to normal 29. The only side effect I was experiencing was neuropathy in my toes. Surgery was scheduled for 7/14. I had two weeks off of chemo which built up my blood levels before surgery. Surgery was a success and all cancer was removed!

Recovery was 6 weeks but another 18 weeks of chemo started 2 1/2 weeks after surgery. My cancer level has dropped to 10 after 6 weeks of chemo. I've had low levels of my WBC and hemoglobin but my body has rebounded on its own each week. Although, my doctor is watching both levels very closely! I have been more tired with chemo after surgery but if that is my only side effect I will take it. The neuropathy hasn't changed either so I'm just dealing with it! If I remain on schedule my last chemo will be the Friday after Thanksgiving. How perfect!

My goal is be playing tennis again in January! I'm soooo looking forward to a healthy 2015!! By the way we share the same birthday September 19- Happy Belated Birthday Joan!!

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