My Mom Was Diagnosed with Cancer and We Are Going to Fight To Win
Updated: May 19
My mom was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, likely advanced, and I am petrified. If you have just been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer or your loved one has, there is hope.
My mom had just started working from home, after 20 years at the same job they switched to remote working. She was just 3 weeks from her 50th birthday and enjoying being at home. It was a Monday in the beginning of March when I got a call from her during the work day. She was worried because she had just passed 3 blood clots the size of her hand while starting her period. She had a call in to her Doctor waiting for an appointment. She said "I bet it's time for a hysterectomy!"
She went into her family doctor who agreed it was hysterectomy time and sent her for an ultrasound. When she went to the ultrasound, the tech had such a difficult time seeing anything that she switched to a vaginal ultrasound. The tech was still having a very difficult time and my mom started having heavy bleeding. She said the pain was so bad, she could barely stand it. The excruciatingly painful ultrasound went on for over 45 minutes.
My mom went to her Gynecologist the next day who said the ultrasounds weren't clear and he couldn't tell what was going on. He would need to do an exam himself to see what he might be able to figure out. During his own exam, he couldn't see anything. My mom's cervix was tilted and rock hard. Her uterus was the size of a woman who was 5 months pregnant. He couldn't get any type of possible biopsy on anything because he couldn't get around her enlarged and painful lady parts. He was very concerned and his voice trembled. He said, "I think you have cancer, I think you have Ovarian cancer." He took some blood work, and said he would be referring her to a Gynecology Oncologist.
My mom could feel the blood drain in her body. She got dressed and walked to the door, headed down the hall to walk to her car feeling numb. Cancer?
Before she made it to the parking lot, a nurse came running down the hall yelling for her to come back. The Doctor told my mom"I just found a CT scan of yours that you had done in November, just 4 months ago and there is no cancer here, everything looks good! I'm so sorry for scaring you, I feel so relieved. Let's go ahead and schedule a hysterectomy for two days from now, you need this ASAP!"
She told my sister and I what happened, and the fear I felt suddenly as she told me it was a false alarm was insane. I felt such a huge relief when she said she didn't have it, but hearing the word "cancer" and my mom in the same sentence was just too much.
The next morning at the crack of dawn, her phone rang confirming surgery by the nurse. Everything was set. Then, around 11:00am, the Gynecologist himself rang my mom. "We are cancelling your hysterectomy. Your blood work came back and your CA125 is 132. This is a sign of cancer. I need you to go see an Oncologist today, I believe you DO have Ovarian Cancer. We set up an appointment for you to see the oncologist today. Get there."
My mom called me in tears. "My gynecologist said he think I DO have cancer, I'm going to the cancer center. I'll call you when I'm done."
In that moment, my world stopped. My mom is my best friend. There isn't one thing that woman doesn't know about me. We share so many amazing memories together and we are as close as a mom and daughter could get. I can call her 60 times a day and she will be cheerful every time she answers. She will listen to me complain about something and give me great advice, even if my problem is petty. She has taken the most wonderful care of me since birth and well into adulthood. She is the best grandmother you could ask for to my kids. This may sound cliche, but my mom is one of those people that truly "doesn't do wrong." She cares about people, she is loving and kind to everyone. She puts EVERYONE ahead of herself. She doesn't smoke or drink. She takes the most amazing care of my dad and has been a better wife than I could ever DREAM of being and I mean that. She takes care of her dad. If you're hungry, she will make sure you eat a 5-course meal and won't ask for a thing from you like washing a single dish. She takes care of everyone, and no one ever asks her how she is doing. How selfish have I seriously been?
I never thought in a million years something like this would happen, especially not now. I am too young, she is too young. I thought my mom would be there for me until she was 95. I expected this from others, not her. Why her? How did this happen? How did I get here? Life was normal, and then BAM!
She doesn't go to the Doctor as often as she should. When she is in pain, she takes an over the counter drug and goes on with her day. She won't ever complain she is in pain, because she doesn't want to put a damper on your day. No one knows how long this has been festering.
I felt a dark cloud cover my world that day, and I knew my life was about to change as I knew it. Everything around me looked different. It felt different to drive down the road. My surroundings felt gloomy, the road didn't seem like the road. I cannot explain it, everything was covered with a dark cloud.
I got on google and typed Ovarian cancer. The first thing I saw was "life expectancy, 2-6 months. Survival rate, 30%. I started seeing stories of people losing their loved ones and losing them very fast, only months after diagnosis. OH MY GOSH. My stomach turned, the tears rolled.
I picked up my sister, and we cried in a parking lot because we couldn't go inside anywhere because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In that moment, I felt like I only had a few months left with one of the most precious people in my life. We began talking about all of the people we knew who lost parents to cancer, and lost them fairly quickly. We talked about how this horrible cancer seemed to bother the BEST of the BEST people that didn't deserve it.
After we pulled ourselves together, we went to my mom's house and waited for her and my dad to get back from the cancer center with some answers. My mom walked in, bawling. I went to her immediately and hugged her. I said "mom," but it was all I could say before she burst into harder tears while squeezing me with all her might. I had no other words. I felt like I was in a bad dream and wanted to wake up. Please wake me up!
She shouted in between tears"I have cancer, the oncologist believes I have cancer and will confirm it with a cat scan. How do I have cancer and I'm not even 50? I never saw myself having to go to a cancer center!" I told her it would be OK, as I watched my dad and sister holding on tightly to one another crying. We couldn't do life without her.
The next several days waiting to go to the cat scan were torturous. Sitting around trying to be positive and continue life normal when my mother was in a depressed funk, was brutal. I spent the next several days trying to research as much as I could, and avoid all of the negative stats of ovarian cancer. I started researching symptoms and sure enough there were several symptoms listed that my mom was experiencing but chalking up to "probably menopause starting!"
I started to feel positive. I kept telling my mom, maybe she didn't actually have cancer! This truly could just be menopause starting, and nothing more. All of the symptoms can be similar.
It was a LONG and stressful 5 days waiting for those cat scan results.
Well, the day of the results came and my mom did in fact have cancer. They believed it to be Ovarian cancer that had most definitely spread to the stomach. Her ovaries had grown, her uterus had grown and there was a sack over her stomach and the lining of her abdomen had thickened. They could also see inflamed lymph nodes. None of this was there in the CT scan from the November scan. This all looked to be pretty new.
They would need a biopsy to see where else the cancer was. What, where else? It could be in more places? I didn't handle this news well, and neither did my mom. That night, she had a panic attack and my dad thought she was having a heart attack. They called 911 and she was rushed to the ER to find her potassium was really low. She kept saying she didn't know how all of us would live without her, she knew we needed her. She knew our love for her and she knew losing her would kill us. The thought of that was making her crazy.
Over the next few days, there was a lot of crying and a lot of self reflection. Life had changed in an instant. Everything I knew, was gone.
What truly matters in this world? Everything for me had stopped. The things I once worried about and stressed over, seemed to minuscule. I was embarrassed for living my life the way I had been. I wasn't making the most out of my life every day, and I was taking a lot of things for granted, starting with how I spent time with my loved ones. I was worried about things that at the end of the day, meant nothing.
Waiting for the results of the biopsy ended up being another 6 days of torture. All the waiting in between tests is literally a nightmare. My dad wasn't sleeping and he already has so many health issues from heart disease to diabetes. I knew he couldn't handle much more. My mom was beyond defeated already and was not putting on any type of brave face. No one was eating, no one was sleeping, we were all suffering. I would picture my life without my mom, and it felt like hell. Awful pictures would pop up involuntarily in my head of a future with out her, and I would quickly tell myself to stop. I really couldn't do life, without her.
My mom wasn't in good shape mentally. She didn't like her oncologist's bedside manner and was petrified to take another call from her because she was so cold in delivering bad news. I told her when the biopsy results came back, call me and I will come straight over and I will take the call with you. I was so scared, I didn't want to hear the results, but I knew my mom needed me to. She spent my whole life holding my hand, and it was time I hold hers. I couldn't let her take that call alone.
During the wait, I decided I needed to find something POSITIVE about Ovarian Cancer. Everything I was finding was so petrifying. I wanted to talk to real people going through this. I vowed to include my mom's story in my blog and reach other women to warn them of this cancer, to help more women never have to experience the pain we are experiencing.
I joined a support group on Facebook and it was the best decision I could've ever made throughout this. I made a brief post about what was going on and the out-pour of women that began reaching out to me was overwhelming. I needed to hear from these amazing women.
There were women with stage 4b Ovarian Cancer who had survived and were cancer-free, doing wonderful. Lots of the women didn't discover the cancer until it was advanced, and many of them were at least to stage 3. They all were so eager to talk to me and tell me, "guess what, this isn't a death sentence, she CAN fight this and WIN, I did." They were so positive, they were so helpful and happy to share their stories with me. They gave me hope, they gave me faith.
Their symptoms were similar to my moms. Things like bloating, heavier periods, feeling full when barely eating, pain in lower back, pain in side, stomach pain, gas, frequent urination, constipation. The problem is, the symptoms are all very close to things that tend to happen around menopause time. Several of the ladies had the same story as my mom, and were completely shocked to find out they had cancer. They were pretty healthy for the most part, and the symptoms weren't anything too out of the ordinary. Nothing that would make you feel like you possibly had "cancer." Many of the women didn't find out about the cancer until their symptoms became extremely severe and they wound up in the ER. A few women had so much bloating that they had to have fluid drained out of their stomachs and then the cancer was found.
For treatment, I learned that it was pretty common to go through a debulking surgery to remove as much cancer as possible, followed by chemo. These women were tough and brave, they were positive. They weren't scared of hair loss or chemo, they were fighting for their lives.
They all told me to STOP googling because a lot of the stats are outdated anyway. Medicine has come a LONG way, and you CAN survive this!
After days of talking to these women, I felt like there WAS a light at the end of the tunnel. There were women who had the Ovarian cancer spread to their intestines, their lungs, their abdomen, their colon, their liver...and they fought it and won. They were now cancer free and in remission. Many of them had been in remission for several years.
My mom could do this.
I told my mom everything the women had said. I began researching and found out everything I could about naturally curing cancer. I knew my mom would do surgery and chemo, but I wanted to see how we could make her body as healthy as it could be, so it would be ready for a fight. I found that switching to a plant based diet, avoiding dairy and certain meats could do wonders for the body. I was scared for her to take any supplements, because I didn't know how that might affect the chemo. I have read that high doses of vitamin C can "protect" the cancer cells from the chemo. I began to back off a little bit of the research because I was beginning to confuse myself. I just knew that no matter what, I would take care of my mom and we would get through this, even if she was in the most advanced stage their was. No matter how bad it was, we would figure it out.
I told my mom, "I promise you, I won't let anything happen to you. I promise."
Her 50th birthday we tried to be happy. She wasn't herself that day, she was scared. She cried that night and said that looking at all of us was hard, because what if she wasn't with us anymore this time next year? I told her she would absolutely be with us.
After the long wait was over, her oncologist called with the biopsy results and I drove over to her house. She asked me to hold her hand while we received the news. I put my arm around her and put the Doctor on speaker. She explained it something like this:
"The biopsy came back, but it doesn't look as though this is ovarian cancer after all. It looks like it started in your stomach. I think it's time to start chemotherapy. I am not going to be your doctor anymore because this isn't my specialty since it's no longer gynecology related. I have set up an appointment for you with another oncologist, he is a new Doctor at the center and you will see him this afternoon. I know it's short notice, but you need to get the ball rolling."
She was so positive and uplifting in her voice. Myself, my mom and dad all had a great sense of relief. Maybe this wasn't so bad!
We drove to the cancer center and went in, it was a Thursday. I felt like the dark cloud over my head had finally begun to move away. I felt as though perhaps this was just a cancer in her stomach that was just starting, and maybe we had caught it early.
My mom and I sat in the Doctor's office waiting to meet the new Oncologist, both feeling so much more hopeful than before. He walked in and as we smiled, but he acted grim. Something was wrong, I could feel it. In a sad voice, he asked if we knew of the findings. Why was he acting this way?
He showed us the CT scan. He said the cancer had spread around the lining of her abdomen, the lining of her intestines, the lining of her lungs, and lymph nodes, it was also in her pelvis. We both starred at him confused. "So... it's not in her ovaries right? This is just a stomach thing we are dealing with, right?" The look on his face dulled even deeper. "Ma'am, the biopsy showed this cancer came from somewhere else. It has spread from it's originating place, your colon. You have colon/rectal cancer. What you're seeing is areas that it has spread to."
My blood started to drain again and I felt as though I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This is what this feels like? Losing your mom? Losing your best friend.
I immediately asked about treatment. His response was, "we can do chemotherapy and try to shrink it."
"TRY?? TRY?? You can TRY to shrink it?" I asked if he had any better answer and he just starred at me blank. My mom started rocking back and forth, saying "oh God, oh God."
She then said "can you cure me?" I knew that was the worst question to ask in this case, and I really didn't want him to answer because I knew what was coming and I knew my mom couldn't handle it. It was too late. He proceeded with, "because this has spread from your colon, surgery isn't an option anymore. It's spread to too many places, it is stage 4 at this point. It has now become an advanced disease. There is no cure, we can try to treat it and manage it for you but there's not much we can do."
My mom passed out. I screamed and cried for her to please wake up. We got her onto a bed, and I laid on top of her chest hugging her. I felt in that moment I had already lost her. I was going to lose my mom soon. This was happening. People go through these types of traumas every day, and now I was finally experiencing this.
All I could think was, please don't tell her how long she has to live. I can't hear it and she will pass out again.
He said he needed her to go for colonoscopy to confirm that the cancer had originated in the colon/rectal area. She would be going the next morning. I was shaking like a leaf and couldn't wait to just get outside and breathe some fresh air. I couldn't breathe.
I demanded he leave us with something positive. He told her that chemo would be starting in a week, and to not worry because he would treat this and that might extend her life. He has patients with this same cancer that had been on chemo for almost 5 years. FIVE YEARS OF CHEMO?! Would she spend the rest of her life on chemo, sick and miserable until she died?
We broke the news to our other family members, and it was hard. I stayed the night with my mom that night. I prayed to God that night, a deeper prayer than normal. I told God how I realized all of the mistakes I had been making in life. What matters in life? Is it money? Is it cars? Houses? The person who ticked you off in the grocery story or the cousin you found out is gossiping about you? Debt collectors calling? Lost your job? Someone got a promotion over you? Does any of this matter?
I'll tell you what matters. People. People matter. Money, success, vacations... none of it mattered anymore, not without my mom. I vowed to change and truly value life. Some of the things I valued, just had no meaning anymore. This was a huge wake up call. Please, give me a second chance and give me more time with my best friend.
It was time I loved my husband the way he deserved. It was time I cherish the moments with him and our children. It was time to appreciate my in-laws more, my grandparents, my sister, my dad, my friends. It was time to no longer worry about the dumb stuff that would stress me out. It was time to appreciate the time my mom spent making holidays perfect and special for all of us. Now, it was time to make her days extra special. I had no idea how many days I had with her, but I promised to do everything I could to make them wonderful.
I chose to take off of work, which would be tough financially but my husband was supportive. I would be her caregiver and I would find a way through this. There were survivors out there, and my mom would be one of them. "Just give me at least 5 more years" I would think. Please, I need more time.
I started researching and found Chris Beats Cancer. I found his story amazing and the reviews on his book on Amazon were making me cry happy tears. I looked into CBD oils, diet changes and read as many survivor stories as I could. I was standing strong and I would PUSH my mom through every bit of this. I wasn't scared anymore, I had no time for fear. I would find her a beautiful wig, I would help her stay active and get through chemo in the best way we could. I would make her life the best it could be. I would make our time together and her time together with others, incredible.
The next morning, Friday, was her colonoscopy to confirm the colon cancer. I was feeling confident that no matter what, my mom would be around for the long haul. We were going to fight this, I didn't care how advanced it was. That afternoon my dad called me to tell me my mom did NOT have colon cancer. We both cried and were in serious shock. Her colon did not have cancer and neither did her intestines like the oncologist said. Did God answer my prayers?
The Doctor said it seemed as though the cancer was ovarian like originally thought.
We found a better rated Doctor that had been recommended by several friends and acquaintances and booked an appointment for Monday. We ditched the Oncologist that told her she was a hopeless case. We went through the weekend feeling better again.
Fast forward to today, it's a Saturday night as I write this and her appointment is Monday, as in 2 days from now. That awful appointment with my mom passing out, was just 3 days ago.
My mom knows it might still be bad news on Monday. It might be advanced, but guess what? We're going to fight it, and we're going to win. This roller coaster is one of the craziest and scariest rides I've ever been on, but I do intend to get off a stronger person in the end. I intend to get off with my mom fully in tact.
I have spoken to too many amazing, brave women over the last few weeks who have beat this for us to think we can't. We are going to continue researching, continue to have a positive attitude and do everything we can to appreciate life. We cannot let that big scary C word consume us for one more day.
We are here to LOVE, to value one another, to live happily. Stop arguing with people you love. Stop stressing out over things that don't truly matter. Make every moment count. Be kind to people. Live life to the fullest. Fix the problems in your life with people, those people matter.
You never know how scary cancer is until you or a loved one is diagnosed with it. I know I had never been deeply affected by it in this way until it hit my mom.
I don't know what kind of journey is ahead of me, but I can tell you I'm going at it with 100% effort. Only God knows what will happen and it's time to put it in his hands. I will do my part to the fullest, and the rest is in his hands. I believe with everything in me, my mom will get through this. I tell her every chance I can how much I love her and appreciate her. I do the dishes, and I cook for her. Why did I constantly let her just take care of me? She deserves to be taken care of, and it shouldn't have waited until she got cancer to do so.
Start living your life, I mean really living. Be brave, be strong, know that there are survivors every day. If you or a loved one has this, go at it with full speed! Don't be defeated, women ARE beating this and what you're finding on Google isn't worth reading. There are women beating seriously advanced cases and now in remission. You CAN beat this too.
Be there for the people you care about and if your loved one has cancer, be there for them. Help them push through this. Pray for the them. Be their rock and make them strong, they're going to need you. If you have cancer, be strong for you, be strong for the people in your life and declare you aren't ready to leave yet! Pray. You still have so much to see and live for. Use that as your motivation, and I truly believe you can beat it. Do not give up, put up that fight. Others are fighting every day and winning, you GOT THIS.
Sending all the love, good vibes and prayers.
*This post is for informational/entertaining purposes only. This is just my personal story and is not meant to be advice of any kind. I am not a professional or medical Doctor. Always seek your Doctor for anything that pertains to your specific situation. By using this website you agree to the disclaimer.