Tootsie

Tootsie

Friday, December 9, 2016

Tootsie

Good Friday morning.

NOT RANDOMNESS - The Facts About Ovarian Cancer (First Posted in 2011)

My Mom has ovarian cancer.

She asked me to talk about it on the blog to help raise awareness, and, of course, I agreed.

Mom's story began one year, four months ago. She went for her regular check-up, and the doctor discovered a tumor. She had not been sick prior to going to the doctor. Except for a few "things" most women experience from time to time (fatigue and bloating), she had no clue she would walk into the doctor's office for a check-up and walk out of the same office diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Today, I'm going to give you some of the facts regarding ovarian cancer.

Each year, about 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While it is the ninth most common cancer (other than skin cancer) in women, ovarian cancer is the fifth highest cause of cancer death in women. Most women who develop ovarian cancer are older than 60. It is found more often in white than African-American women.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague or like other conditions. This may make it hard to diagnose. It often has spread to other parts of the body when it is found.

Because of this, it is nicknamed is "The Silent Cancer."

I want to give you a complete list of the symptoms, although you may have one or more of them at a time.

General abdominal discomfort or pain (gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating, cramps)
Bloating and/or a feeling of fullness, even after a light meal
Nausea, diarrhea, constipation or frequent urination
Unexplained weight loss or gain
Loss of appetite
Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Unusual fatigue
Back pain
Pain during sex
Menstrual changes

These symptoms do not always mean you have ovarian cancer. However, it is a good idea to discuss them with your health care provider if they are new symptoms, last more than a few weeks and/or occur numerous times a month.

As I stated before, my Mom had no idea anything was wrong.

Needless to say, she is an advocate of regular check-ups, early detection and awareness... and as her family, we have become advocates, too.

Mom's Personal Story

In May of 2011, Mom went for her regular check-up. At that time, her doctor discovered the cancer. As I stated before, my Mom was not sick. She was living an active life. She was not in pain. She had bloating and she was more tired than usual, but neither of those "symptoms" raised red flags.

And that is how ovarian cancer works. By the time you have "unusual" symptoms or pain, the cancer has usually spread.

She had exploratory surgery a couple of weeks later, and the cancer was officially diagnosed. She had Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer.

After she recovered from the surgery (five to six weeks), she began chemo treatments. The treatments were scheduled three weeks apart, and except for one of the six treatments, Mom stayed right on schedule.

Except for the cancer, her health was excellent.

She finished her last chemo treatment in November of 2011... and she checked out "cancer-free."

However, with ovarian cancer, it is important to have three-month check-ups for two years after treatment. This cancer reoccurs often, and early detection is vitally important.

Nine months from the end of her first round of chemo, Mom had her third three-month check-up. A pet scan revealed the cancer had returned, and within two weeks, she had a new port put in and began another round of six chemo treatments. This set of treatments is scheduled to finish the week after Christmas... and then she'll begin her three-month check-ups to make sure the cancer doesn't return over the next two years.

Many of the women who have treatments the same day as my Mom are having their second, third, etc. set of chemo treatments for ovarian cancer.

Skip Ahead from 2011 to 2016...

In February of 2016, Mom had her last chemo treatment. After 75+ rounds of chemo, there were no other options for her other than clinical trials. (She researched the trials, and after much thought, consideration and prayer, decided not to pursue further treatments.)

In April of 2016, Mom's doctor told her she probably had about six months to live. She eventually told me and my sister, but asked us not to tell anyone else. It would be God's decision when her life would end, and not a timeline given to her by a doctor.

The cancer continued to spread throughout her abdomen and lymph nodes...

And she continued to set goals.

She wanted to celebrate Easter with her family.

She wanted to have another birthday.

She wanted to meet her great-grandson, Sawyer, born July 31, 2016.

She wanted to take another fall trip.

She wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family.

She wanted to attend every celebration and event in between along the way...

And she did.

Up until eight days before her death, Mom was driving her car and taking care of her 95 year-old mother (MamMa).

When people saw her, she was well-dressed, accessorized and wearing make-up. I heard people say time and time again, "You look so good."

The picture at the top of the page was taken only two weeks before her death during our Thanksgiving celebration at Palisades in Oneonta. Her mother, kids, grandkids, spouses and two great-grandchildren were in attendance.

The union of two, Harold and Tootsie, has grown to 16... and is still growing as we speak. (Great-grandchild number THREE will be here in a few more days.)

Mom died Monday, December 5, 2016 after a five year, seven month battle with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer...

Which, by the way, she won.

I would like to thank everyone for their prayers, phone calls, cards and texts over the last few days. It has been greatly appreciated.

I would also ask you to continue to pray for my grandmother and all of the grandkids as they begin living life without "Grandmother." She had a daily relationship with her family, and they are most certainly going to miss her earthly presence.

That being said, they also know and are happy she is spending Christmas 2016 with Granddaddy this year.

It has been a long time.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda
Firstborn Daughter of Harold and Tootsie Smith
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