Just when you think that you have faced your biggest challenge in life, don’t be surprised to find yourself faced with an even bigger one. My first challenge was ovarian tumors; my second is chronic myelogenous leukemia. And no, I am not opening the door to a third, just in case anyone is wondering!
In 2004, I had ovarian tumors removed from both of my ovaries. In 2005, I had major abdominal surgery to remove any other areas affected by the disease; this included a full hysterectomy, my omentum and another mass that was attached to my abdominal wall. The consensus; if you had to have ovarian tumors, you chose the “good” kind. It was basically the best bad news that I could have received. Yes, I had ovarian tumors, but they were not cancer (malignant); yet they were not, “not” cancer either. (Non-malignant)
They were actually borderline serous tumors, neither here nor there. They quite possibly would have become cancerous if they had not been removed at such an early stage. Since they were borderline tumors and I still have little floaters of the cells, cruising around in my abdomen, counter clockwise, I must continue to see my gynecological oncologist every six months; for the rest of my life. The theory is; if they pick a spot and choose to settle in and grow, we will remove them. Lucky me, I get to visit both side of the Comprehensive Cancer Facility! This health issue stole one entire year from my life.
Since ovarian cancer is often hard to detect and can go undetected until it is in an advanced stage; my suggestion to all women is to take your health into your own hands. Request a vaginal ultra-sound and CA-125 along with your regular PAP (does not detect ovarian cancer), mammogram and yearly exam. I do not know at what age you should begin requesting these tests, but I was told that when I began to worry about ovarian cancer, at age 35, (after the birth of my third child) that I was much too young to be concerned. I was told that my yearly exam would be sufficient. I told my doctor that that wasn’t good enough for me, as I had recently lost two friends to ovarian cancer and I didn’t plan on being the third. I know it is a bit extreme, but hey, I planned to be around for a long, long time!
He relented and suggested the above tests, I think that he did them just to ease my mind. Ten years down the road, he saw what he thought were cysts. He told me not to worry and to have another ultra-sound, with a colleague of his, in six months. I immediately worried and made an appointment for the following day with his colleague. Upon his recommendation, I had my ovaries removed the next week. They were removed laproscopically. Lab results: Borderline Serous Ovarian Tumors. He was stunned at the diagnosis and I was relieved that we had caught it, before it turned into full blown ovarian cancer.
The above tests may be a bit overkill for most, but they aren’t overkill for the ones whose life that may be saved, because of them. The tests may seem extreme and your insurance may not cover them; mine did not. But the $425 that I spent every year, out of my own pocket, quite possibly saved my life. I consider it money well spent. Again, this is only my opinion.