Roller Coaster – guest post

Our thought this week are with Maggie, an ovarian cancer blogger who says “I am a survivor. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister just happy to be alive.”  Her spirit continues to inspire readers of her blog It Is What It Is….

The Roller Coaster is Leaving the Station

I visited the oncologist on Monday, September 28. I had a VitC treatment that morning and had had blood drawn, the usual routine. I knew before my visit that things were changing. I knew from the CA125 and I knew from my body. My CA125 jumped from 154 up to 1091 in just a few short weeks. I cannot put into words how devastating this was. I knew it would be elevated because of the surgery and irritation in my pelvic area, but a 600% increase was indicative of more than just irritation from surgery. I had a physical exam with the oncologist and this confirmed her suspicions that the tumor is growing again.

I started a new chemo regime on Tuesday, September 29. Two weeks on, one week off. My new drugs are carboplatin and gemzar. I had carbo during the fall of 2007. It is a first line drug for ovarian cancer and it makes me feel yucky. Nausea, flu like symptoms and fatigue are my new side effects. Week one I have both drugs and then week two I get just gemzar. Gemzar is another chemo used for ovarian cancer, and like any chemo it’s nasty stuff.

For the first time since I have been seeing Dr. C she used words like ‘aggressive’ and ‘quality of life.’ Those words can just stand by themselves for a moment while I breathe.

Richie and I and M and C were just devastated by this news. Up until this point, I have believed I can reach remission. And I still believe that, but I will have to work harder to reach that and I am tired. I have been working hard for two years. I still have hope, but now I am faced with making decisions and having discussions with my family that I hoped to never have. As is my nature, I am working on finding the positive side of this, on finding the angle that will allow me the most peace. And here is it….

I never wanted anything more than to be a wife and mother. I had no grand dreams of a career outside the home. I knew that marriage and family were in my future. I was lucky enough to meet my soul mate, the love of my life and to have two beautiful children with him. I have lived a very happy and fulfilling life for the past twenty years. I have my dream, I am living my dream. How lucky am I? I think I am very lucky. I think I am very blessed. I have a very, very good life.

I am not giving up. I will continue to fight hard because I really want nothing more than to raise my children and grow old with Richie. But I would be a fool to not face the reality of the situation. It would be unfair of me to not prepare for my death – be it in two years or twenty. I owe it to Richie, M and C to leave nothing to question. How cruel would it be for them to ever wonder if they had done enough? I must help them find the peace to survive me. In order to do that, I have to find my own peace.

So now, while still fighting for my life, I must prepare for my death. I have a lot of decisions to make and questions to answer.

Nothing in life prepares you for death. Nothing. We live our lives being alive and thinking and doing, death is something that is always far off in the future. So I will live the life I have right in front of me. When I feel poorly, I will rest and relax and let the drugs do their job. When I am feeling well, I will run the errands, fix meals, do the laundry and be happy that I have the energy to do the things I can. I don’t want to miss the orchestra performances, the band concerts, ballet or Tae Kwon Do. This is a good life that I have and I am very thankful. I am thankful for my family and friends and for all you have done to help us through this very difficult time.

I have been feeling good this past week – it is my week off chemo. I have been busy doing things while I feel good. This past week we had parent/teacher conferences – C is doing well, a little bit of the class clown, but obviously intelligent and capable of good things – and college night at the high school. M is looking at a wide variety of schools and in her usual way is starting early, getting prepared and taking in information.

On Friday I had a VitC treatment. I had blood drawn that day, part of the monitoring that the oncologist’s office does, and we had such good news! My CA125, which was almost 1100 on September 28 has gone down to 78, after just one round of the new chemo! What a roller coaster! What a full life! And how lucky I am to be living it!

from: It Is What It Is….


About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.


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