9:13 am - 08/19/2017

Mom facing potential ovarian cancer diagnosis; terrified

While undergoing a scan for an unrelated issue, my mother was found to have a 4.6 cm complex ovarian cyst and cancer was "a concern."

Her GP looked at the report and while he said he didn't think it was cancer, he sent her to a gyn/onc. The dr. is apparently comfortable not seeing my mom for a month (vacation time of course), but I'm not comfortable at all.

It has arterial flow, is partially solid, has a papillary projection (though no flow within that if that makes a difference) and she has a fallopian tube blocked with fluid (there's a word for it I can't remember.) And she's 74, which...at her age, I can't see how it isn't cancer. It said cancer is "a concern" on the report while a normal cyst merely "can't be ruled out". Everything sounds so grim to me. The lack of septations made me feel a little better until I read that in people her age, most ovarian cancer doesn't have those.

I'm trying to prepare myself for what seems like the inevitable, but I know ovarian cancer at her age is a death sentence. I haven't done anything but cry for the last two weeks. And I feel like that's all I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life.

I'm also terrified of being her only support/care person during this time. I have health problems myself and I have no idea how I'll function. Let alone how I'll function without my mom (I saw ovarian cancer kill a friend of mine in her 30s, never sick a day in her life. I know how it goes.) My only support system is my girlfriend who lives half an hour away. Does anyone have any advice for getting through this?
alittleacademe 21st-Aug-2017 09:23 pm (UTC)
Hello, my dear. The most astonishing things turn out not to be cancer, for the record. And the most astonishing people survive surgery. My grandmother had a mahoosive tumour for breast cancer and it spread to two lymph nodes. She has come through a mastectomy, chemo, and radiation, including pneumonia, at 83. So it can be done. In re: the comment below, you can absolutely have palliative chemo - my father-in-law did, and lived 18 months after his terminal diagnosis (which was lung cancer + secondaries in bones and other places), mostly in good condition, and a good 5.5 years after his first diagnosis (of intestinal cancer). The end came a bit unexpectedly, but peacefully. I would not say that he suffered. He was 72 - I think the end is gentler the older you are. A friend's mum is now at the palliative chemo stage after 7 years of being terminal. 6 years ago she was on life support. Now she's quite frail but still travelling, eating, drinking, visiting, enjoying life.

Ovarian cancer is usually such a death sentence because it is spotted only when women become symptomatic - way way way down the line - not picked up on a scan for something else. That is very much in your mum's favour.

In terms of getting through it:
Online support via whatever social media you use, also elefriends (mental health), 7CupsOfTea, try them all. Call the Samaritans. Flag up ALL your issues to the GP treating you and find out about support groups and disability allowance. If you have any money spare, pay for the biopsy etc to happen sooner. Invest in your relationship with your girlfriend. Try and be kind to your body in terms of eating and sleeping. If you find prayer/religion useful, go for that. Something looser e.g. the Quakers might also help. I'm thinking of you and rooting for you. xxx

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