Michelle Merchant's Story On the 11th March 1996 I presented to the Gold Coast Hospital for a routine hysterectomy. I woke up from anaesthetic to find out that both my ovaries. I was informed that I had ovarian cancer on the right side and both ovaries had to be removed as ovarian cancer would eventually move into the healthy ovary.
I was put under an oncologist to commence chemotherapy which would be 6 cycles to be administered via injection into the vein every three weeks. I was extremely sick from the chemo and lost my hair. At the end of the 6 months I was told that due to the way I responded to the chemo I had about 2 ½ years to live but I wouldn’t see 5 years.
I was devastated with the news as I was just 34 1/2.
Over the next few years I managed to find another oncologist and an oncology surgeon who worked to keep me alive through operations and more chemo.
I have had thousands of injections of chemo and had 6 operations since the first one to remove cancer nodes.
Throughout this time my body has become sensitive to a number of chemo drugs.
On the 2nd February 2012 I presented at the Mater Private Hospital with extremely high blood pressure, swollen legs and extreme head ache.
I had a reaction to a drug call gemcitabine (gemza) which destroyed my platelets. The blood that normally flows through the veins had become like water and seeped out into the soft tissue around the veins and formed large blood blisters on my right thigh and calf, these erupted like a volcano and proceeded to eat the flesh away on my right leg. The disease is called TTP. This reaction happens to 1 in 400,000 people. I spent 3 ½ months in hospital and wasn’t sure if I would make it. It took until November 2012 before I was out of bandages and dressings totally and I could no longer use this drug to treat the cancer. My leg is very scared and looks like it was burnt but I still have 2 legs and be able to walk.
I have also become sensitive to Carboplatin which kept the cancer in check but due to the volume that I have received over the years I have anaphylactic reaction to even the smallest dose. Recently under the supervision of my oncologist Dr Paul Mainwaring we tried to desensitise me to the drug so that I may have been able to use it again but unfortunately I reacted so badly that it was dangerous to continue and this drug is no longer an option for me either.
Presently I’m using a drug that I have used in the past called Calyx (doxyrubison) this drug is not working as I would have hoped and I find myself in the position of needing better drugs and more options.
Ovarian cancer has a limited amount of drugs that are available as it is not considered a popular cancer, if there is such a thing, and therefore it doesn’t receive the same media coverage of funding as some of the more popular cancers.
Dr Paul Mainwaring has suggested that if I had the funds to purchase other drugs as they have not been put on the PBS my chances of survival would be improved. He believes PD-1 inhibitor is the drug he has recommended if I was able to purchase it at $3000 - $3500 per injection. I would to be on the drug for at least 12 months with an injection every 2nd week.
I have been fighting this disease for 20 ½ years and would like to continue to do so. I have come to a point in my life where I need to ask for help as previously to this I have always managed to work through most of this with the help of my immediate family.
This brings me to the place where I am now and I’m asking anyone and everyone if you could help me to raise the money to purchase the drugs to keep me alive. I’m desperate and don’t know what else to do. I work full time and try not to be a burden on society but my options are running out.
Most women that are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are usually dead within 5 years I’ve been fighting for over 20 years and I hope to continue to be able to keep fighting for another 20 years with your support through the purchase of some better drugs. Thank you for reading my Story Love Michelle
We are hold a Teal Takeover Ball on the 27th August 2016 at Southport yacht Club for more information please visit Chicks Conquering Cancer Facebook Page.