Thursday April 11, 1991
Today I learned that I have ovarian cancer. I thought the nausea for the past 10 days was the flu but then my belly began to fill with fluid. I had been having little sharp shooting pains occasionally for months above my belly button and the doctors had run all the tests looking for a gastro problem., We never suspected this. Oh, now and then there was a slight pain in my ovaries if I sat down hard.
When the doctor left, Frank and I held each other tight and we cried. Our retired life is just beginning. We have so many plans for the years ahead. What now?
I have agreed, eagerly, to be a part of a study to determine if results with Stage III ovarian cancer are better with surgery first or chemo first.
My mom and my stepdad Frank were supposed to come up to Northern California to visit me for my birthday 2 days earlier and I was so disappointed that she was not feeling well enough to make it, and even more devastated to find out that she had cancer. I felt so helpless being so far away and so very sad at the prospect of losing my mother. She was 56 when she was diagnosed with cancer, the same age I am today. My brother encouraged me to drive down to Southern California (Simi Valley) to visit her and see how well she was coping with her diagnosis. I did that and it helped. She was incredibly strong and determined. She told us right up front that with Stage III ovarian cancer, her chance of surviving for 5 years was only 15%, but she was determined to be in that 15%. I remembered that I had given my mom Gilda Radner's book a few years earlier about her battle with ovarian cancer, and how Gilda had fought the disease but eventually died. I felt somehow there was a connection.