Barbara’s Ovarian Cancer Story Part II


Ovarian Cancer: Process and Survival

Post Surgery

Read Part I for data concerning prognosis and surgical procedure…

The subsequent few weeks after my discharge from the hospital, had been very busy. My sister, Nance, and my mother embellished the home and Christmas tree. My sister Lauren visited from Washington and cleaned, cooked and lent invaluable assist to all of us. There had been visits to the surgeon for follow-up and the oncologist for the preliminary go to. John and my sisters accompanied me. It was so very useful to have another person ask questions and write down data. It may be an awesome expertise, particularly once you’re a little bit “spaced out” on vicodin for ache administration, as I used to be. I signed on to be a part of a scientific examine utilizing totally different mixtures of medicines for eight as an alternative of the traditional six cycles. Laurie had introduced a ebook together with her that provided a variety of data on methods to take care of an ovarian most cancers prognosis and subsequent remedies. One suggestion was to analysis scientific research. There is a substantial amount of “cutting edge” analysis on the market however you will have to hunt for it, do your homework, and produce the knowledge to your physician. My oncologist’s workplace was conducting a trial, I used to be accepted, and I used to be scheduled to start therapy on December 21.

Even although I used to be dreading the entire course of, I knew I needed to method it in a lot the identical method I did the surgical procedure, nearly like an athletic occasion or a race. I wished to go in as robust and as ready as doable and with a greater “attitude.”

Attitude is outlined as a way of performing, feeling or considering that exhibits one’s disposition, opinion and psychological set. We might not be capable of management a scenario, however we will select our angle about that situation- sufferer or fighter; passive or aggressive; depressed or striving towards pleasure and happiness; caught within the “why me’s” or trying to find the “what can I learn from this.” With the assistance of many individuals and thru a lot studying and analysis, my “attitude-adjustment” course of unfolded.

A booklet entitled “Preparing for Chemo” suggests a number of issues that I instantly put into motion.

1) Get your hair reduce quick in order that when your hair begins falling out, it is much less traumatic and will not clog the bathe’s drain. (This labored for the drains however I used to be nonetheless traumatized.)

2) If you propose to put on a wig, store for it earlier than beginning chemo. My sisters and my expensive good friend and hairdresser Patty, helped with each of those steps. Watching my lengthy hair fall to the ground was very arduous and but made me really feel the tiniest bit extra in command of what was occurring to me. To my shock, everybody liked my new hairdo. The compliments boosted my ego after I actually wanted it. Nance and Laurie accompanied me to the wig store. Laughter is excellent medicine-and we laughed lots as all of us performed with the wigs earlier than deciding on two very good ones. Four hundred {dollars} later I used to be armed with my hair prosthetics and a sore stomach from laughing. At this writing, I’m sporting my very own very quick hair after 9 months of wigs and hats.

3) The booklet suggests having a dental test up and cleansing earlier than beginning chemo. Also essential is giving your private home a radical cleansing and maybe scheduling somebody to come back in as soon as per week thereafter- a clear home can decrease publicity to infectious brokers.

4) Building up power by way of train and a great food plan can assist decrease a number of the unwanted side effects of chemo. This booklet and different useful literature, is accessible by way of oncology workplaces and affords good sensible data. I additionally discovered the library and the web to be good sources.

Shortly after my homecoming, from the hospital, I acquired a phone name from Lindy, a volunteer with the Cancer Society (arrange by my husband and the most cancers assist workers on the hospital.) She had been identified and handled for Stage IIIc ovarian most cancers seven years in the past. Hearing from her gave me an actual enhance and a few good ideas for coping with the upcoming chemo. She shared her experiences with surgical procedure, hair loss and full restoration! She remains to be most cancers free! In addition to recommendation on make-up to camouflage the truth that one has no eyebrows or eyelashes, she informed me how useful acupuncture was for her. She felt that it actually minimized a number of the chemo side-effects and “rebalanced” her physique’s power. I had had a couple of classes of acupuncture a few years in the past, and I instantly knew that this might be proper for me. I imagine in its efficacy and positively really feel the classes have been very useful.

My first acupuncture session was 4 days after the primary chemo therapy. The meds they gave me to forestall nausea labored very properly. I did not have a lot of an urge for food and felt a little bit achy and drained however the one actual aspect impact I skilled was a horrible, hand-wringing itching and tingling in my arms and ft. Amy, my acupuncturist, has labored with a number of folks present process chemo, may be very educated, and had a great therapy plan in place for me. I scheduled to see her 2 days earlier than and 4 days after each chemo session. After my first go to together with her, I did really feel higher, extra energized and the itching had positively dissipated a great deal. She gave me some ideas on dietary supplements and a few Chinese herbs to make use of.

The aspect impact of itching, burning and tingling is known as neuropathy and is pretty widespread with the sorts of chemo protocol I used to be on. After my second and third classes, the signs worsened! I turned to the web to study extra about neuropathy and what, if something, I might do about it. I discovered an article by Cindy H. Makencon, web site:, entitled “coping-Tips for dealing with neuropathy.” She provided a substantial amount of useful data together with studies of research on the advantages of taking pretty massive doses of L-Glutamine Sulfate and Chondroitin. I forwarded this data onto Carolyn, the analysis nurse accountable for my scientific examine, and he or she shared the knowledge with the oncologist. I had already began taking L-Glutamine after I met with him. He had additional researched and developed a brand new therapy plan for me which included massive doses of L-Glutamine, a change in one of many chemo meds, and the addition of a medicine referred to as neurontin. The mixture of all these items labored! The neuropathy step by step subsided and I’ve had no additional issues.

I imagine a couple of different components contributed to my with the ability to deal with the chemo fairly properly. I continued to extend my train routine, progressing to strolling on a regular basis after which again to the fitness center for step-classes, albeit modified, and lifting mild weights. Exercise builds muscle power, will increase oxygen and blood move and for me, was and is an actual bodily and psychological power enhance.

I got here throughout a ebook entitled: “Herbal Therapy & Supplements- a Scientific and Traditional Approach” written by Merrily A. Kuhn, RN, Ph.D. and David Winston, a herbalist and ethnobiologist. The ebook was a part of an at-home examine course that I wanted to finish for my RN Continuing Education Credits. The ebook affords a complete information to many widespread and a few much less widespread herbs and dietary supplements, their makes use of, antagonistic results, contraindications, and drug-herb interactions. After cautious analysis, I began utilizing a number of herbs and dietary supplements designed to reduce chemo unwanted side effects and enhance my immune system. I used to be cautious to make use of issues that don’t stimulate estrogen within the physique as my most cancers was estrogen-receptor constructive. I began taking these dietary supplements one or two issues at a time in smaller doses in an effort to monitor any unfavorable reactions, earlier than including extra. Most importantly, I notified my physician that I used to be taking dietary supplements and having acupuncture.

At the tip of this text, I’ll provide a whole checklist of the dietary supplements and herbs that I’ve been utilizing and a few data concerning the rationale for every of those additions.

For a number of months, our kitchen counter resembled a drug and complement retailer. I needed to write up a day by day schedule of what to take when. It was value it! Once the neuropathy was below management, I tolerated the rest of the chemo remedies fairly properly. I used to be in a position to work full time and train, and my urge for food and power ranges had been good. Physically, acupuncture, train, food plan, and dietary supplements had been, and nonetheless are, useful instruments which helped me take care of the chemo and get better from its severe results.

On one other stage, the emotional and non secular aids had been an much more highly effective a part of the therapeutic course of. Previously, I discussed my visualizations concerning pre and put up operative therapeutic and seeing myself wholesome and most cancers free. Now, it was time to take it a step additional and embrace it as a strong adjunct to the chemo drugs. Rather than seeing the meds as a poison, I began to visualise it as “nectar from the gods,” washing by way of me and being taken up by my immune cells as a potion to destroy most cancers cells. Just a few weeks earlier than my first therapy, I learn an article a couple of younger native woman who had battled most cancers at age 16. She wrote a ebook about her expertise and included her ideas on seeing her chemo as “nectar from the gods.” I admired her outlook and included it into my work. My husband, John, created a particular tape for me to take heed to whereas receiving the infusion of chemo. This guided train included rest, therapeutic messages, and ideas for picturing my immune cells caring for issues and utilizing the chemo successfully. Before every chemo session, even earlier than they began the IV, he would do a rest train with me. This ritual grew to become an important a part of the method. By engaged on my “attitude” in direction of the chemo and by connecting with these elements of myself that may be highly effective self-healers, I felt I used to be taking again management of what was occurring. Feeling that you’re a part of the therapeutic course of as an alternative of a passive receiver of medicines and so on., may be very empowering.

Rituals and routines are very comforting, particularly once you’re experiencing hectic occasions. My “chemo ritual” advanced from the very first session. The night time earlier than, I meditated and did my therapeutic visualizations at bedtime. John drove me to the oncology middle. I chosen my chair and we settled in along with his rest train. My sister, Nance, arrived bearing muffins and foolish magazines. After visiting and chatting, John left for work and Nance and I munched muffins and laughed on the National Enquirer tales. About an hour earlier than the infusion was accomplished, my brother, Tom, would arrive for a go to and to take me dwelling. Somewhere within the session, my sister, Laurie, would name from Washington to test in and infrequently John would “pop in” in his travels. I all the time had firm and felt lovingly supported. Sabrina included me in her meditation each morning and my mother would cease by the day after the session for tea and a chat. Every three weeks from December 21 by way of May 27, we adopted this routine. The nurses and my household acquired to know each other and we grew to become an actual staff!

Returning to work seven weeks after surgical procedure was one other normalizing routine that made me really feel like I used to be taking again my life. Except for the day of chemo and the next day, I’ve labored full time, feeling productive, wholesome and regular. My co-workers have been very supportive and caring. They even threw me a commencement get together to have a good time the completion of chemo.

Even earlier than my final chemo, I used to be researching what to do to forestall a recurrence of the illness. I discovered data on a scientific examine for Ovarex, a vaccine designed to forestall a recurrence of ovarian most cancers. After many telephone calls, letters and haggling with my insurance coverage firm, I used to be accepted right into a examine being performed at Stanford’s Cancer Center in Palo Alto. It concerned month-to-month infusions for the primary three months after which each twelve weeks for the remainder of the 12 months, with routine labs and CT scans. I’ve skilled solely gentle unwanted side effects and really feel lucky to have entry to 1 extra device.

This previous 12 months has been one in every of classes for me. I might have most well-liked the “universe” had given me a mild faucet on the shoulder as an alternative of this Giant Thump on the pinnacle to let me know I had issues to study myself and the way “I am” on the earth. Here are a number of the issues I’ve discovered from this expertise:

1. Pay consideration – maybe if I had agitated extra forcefully with my physician that one thing was NOT proper, she would have responded with extra consideration. LISTEN to your physique and belief your instinct.

2. Don’t take something without any consideration – folks, job, well being, hair. When you face the lack of these items, you notice how particular individuals are, how the day-to-day routine of a job is a present, how treasured good well being is and even how a lot better a “bad hair” day is than NO HAIR!

3. There are an amazing many sources of invaluable data on the market by way of folks, libraries and the web. Taking benefit of those sources allowed me to create a complete plan to revive my well being and combat the illness utilizing a mixture of Western and different therapies.

4. We do have decisions in how we take care of a disaster – in all probability the only option for me was to succeed in out and ask for assist. The extra folks I informed about my well being points, the extra constructive power got here my method. I felt empowered quite than susceptible and armed with my helmet (a wig, which, by the way in which, I acquired enhances on) and my armor (acupuncture, dietary supplements, chemo, prayers and visualization) I used to be able to do battle. I used to be “Warrior Princess” as an alternative of most cancers affected person.

5. Laughter is GOOD MEDICINE!

At this writing, my labs and CT scans are utterly regular. I’m again to my regular routines of labor and train. I’m sporting a “Jamie Lee Curtis” hairdo. I’m enthusiastic about adorning and searching for Thanksgiving and after we all come collectively, we’ll have lots to be glad about! Before we dig into our feast, I will probably be asking every particular person to write down on a chunk of paper, one factor that they’re grateful for. Each of us will then withdraw one in every of these papers from the basket and attempt to guess who wrote the message. It will probably be straightforward to guess mine. I’m grateful for all of the love and assist from my household and mates (with a particular because of my son, Matt, and my husband for shaving their heads to assist me and to my son, Mike, and his band for dedicating songs to me at live shows and their fund elevating for the Cancer Society.) I’m grateful for the prayers and finest needs that got here my method from folks I don’t even know. I thanks!!! Well, after all, that is a couple of factor on my piece of paper however so what! It’s time to have a good time!

Happy Thanksgiving 2004 and have a good time every single day of your life.

Barbara’s Complete Ovarian Cancer Fighting Supplement List:

Three Imperial Mushroom Capsules – obtainable by way of acupuncture workplace

A) Reishi- Immuno stimulant: enhances immune system; use is sanctioned by the Japanese Health Ministry as an adjunct therapy for most cancers; Increases exercise of chemotheraputic brokers and reduces antagonistic results resembling nausea, decreased white blood cell counts; helps defend the liver towards injury attributable to viral, drug and environmental toxins.

B) Shitaki- strengthens immune system response; improves survival occasions of most cancers sufferers when used concurrently with chemo.

C) Maitake- finest identified for most cancers combating properties; many medical doctors in Japan use it to decrease blood strain and blood lipids; efficient as an anti-tumor agent and immune system modulator.

Echinacia- utilized in Germany together with chemo within the therapy of most cancers. May improve white blood cell counts in individuals present process chemo.

Cat’s Claw- reduces unwanted side effects of chemo; utilized in scientific follow in Europe for most cancers & HIV; has essential immune enhancing properties; helps improve the variety of T-cells, the true troopers of the immune system. In Austria, it’s used along with typical therapy (chemo, radiation &/or surgical procedure) to deal with a whole bunch of most cancers sufferers per 12 months.

Graviola- scientists have been learning this herb because the 1940’s – 4 research had been printed in 1998 re: important anti-tumor properties and selective toxicity towards numerous sorts of most cancers cells (with out harming wholesome cells; Purdue University has performed a substantial amount of analysis on the Annonaceous acetogenins household to which graviola belongs) a lot of which has been funded by the National Cancer Institute or the National Institute of Health.

Acidophyllis- rebalances intestinal flora (particularly essential once you’re taking a variety of drugs.)

Multivitamins with Vitamin E

Calcium Supplement

IP-6 with Insositol- has been studied extensively for over 20 years; has highly effective results on the immune system.

Wheat Grass Juice- will increase hemoglobin; rebuilds the blood; improves physique’s means to heal wounds; washes drug deposits from the physique; neutralizes toxins and carcinogens within the physique.

Green and White Tea- Chinese imagine inexperienced tea is a remedy for most cancers and a long life tonic; boosts immune system operate; analysis being completed all around the world and within the US by the National Cancer Institute re: anti-tumor exercise. Both inexperienced and white tea are wonderful antioxidants.

Website for researching herbs- Plant Database Raintree Nutrition

I used the guided relaxations/visualizations CD’s from the Stress Education

1. #209 Stress Management for Pre and Post-op Survival

2. #208 Stress Management for Healing


Health Update from SELF Magazine by Jennifer Nelson November, 2004

Ovarian most cancers: a not-so-silent killer

“Early diagnosis is crucial. When disease is caught before it spreads, 80 percent of women will survive.”

by Barbara Ehlers-Mason, RN and L. John Mason, Ph.D.

Written in November, 2004, one 12 months after the Surgery for Ovarian Cancer, in November, 2003

Stress Education Center (707) 795-2228 web site:

Source by L. John Mason

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