Liz's Resilience: Ovarian Cancer
It was only a month after Liz started her dream job at Unity College that she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. She had not even unpacked her boxes and settled into her new home in rural Maine when her doctor told her the news. Like every other challenge she has faced in life, Liz is meeting this one with courage and optimism, determined to do everything she needs to do to recover. But it has not been easy.
This past few years have been rough. She’s been laid off more than once due to cutbacks, “right-sizing,” and in one case, because her employer lost a big contract. Each time she has weathered the blow, gotten up off the mat, and eventually found another job. When she landed the position at Unity, she packed up her belongings and struck out for a new life in a new town. The future was looking bright.
Instead, medical bills are mounting, and she struggles to make ends meet because her income is reduced and she has yet to pay off her moving expenses. Her employers at Unity College have been fantastic, reconfiguring her job and being extremely flexible about medical appointments and time off. She is surrounded by a group of loving friends and family, “Liz’s Posse,” who do whatever needs to be done – laundry, grocery shopping, organizing medical bills and cooking. Her medical care is top notch – she can’t say enough about the doctors and nurses at the Alfond Cancer Center in Augusta.
The word that best describes Liz is resilience. Sometimes it’s hard to believe she can maintain her positive attitude, as the setbacks have hit her like an endless series of waves. She gets knocked down, but she gets back up every time. This time she needs a hand to regain her footing.
Her treatments are going well, and she will have surgery later this year, followed by more chemotherapy. The future can still be bright, but right now, Liz needs our help. Your donation in any amount will be deeply appreciated by this resilient woman and all the members of Liz’s Posse. As she goes through the next months of treatment, including surgery and more chemo, she will need to concentrate on healing. With your help, Liz will be able to stay ahead of medical bills and meet her basic living expenses like rent and heat. Every donation will make a difference.
One synonym for 'resilience' is 'buoyancy.' Liz is not only resilient, she is buoyant. Every donation will help keep her afloat.
It hasn't started snowing yet but we are expecting up to 14 inches. It isn't unusual for there to be a blizzard or nor'easter on my birthday. So come on storm!
Lots has gone on since my last update. I was out of work for a week because of the c-diff. I tried to go back to work that next Monday but ended up getting a UTI and had to go to the emergency room to take care of it. Because of the amount of chemo I have had my system is more compromised this time around. I ended up having to have 3 courses of antibiotics for the UTI. After talking to Pam, Susan and Kay I decided to go out on short term disability.
I just had my second round of chemo last week. It hit me harder then then first round. I had a hard time eating and drinking fluids. I have also been more nauseous. I went for my follow up appointment and they ended up giving me IV fluids and nausea medication in my IV. I was able to eat better yesterday after the fluids and am feeling much better.
My next chemo is scheduled for March 20th. My white blood count is down so I am eating as much iron rich food as I can. I said to someone recently I have not eaten this much red meat in years! But I do love a good steak! Hopefully my numbers will be up so I can have my chemo on the 20th.
I have already reached my max out of pocket for my insurance. One good thing about it is that I don't have anything except copays now. The downside is trying to pay the bills. That is the hard part. I couldn't do it with out all of the help I have had from friends and family like you. Thank you so much. It makes this birthday extra special,
Last week was not a very good week for me. I ended up leaving work at noon on Monday. By Monday night I had both diarrhea and was throwing up all night. I ended up staying home on Tuesday. Wednesday I went into work even though I was feeling lousy. We only had a 1/2 day of work (which was a good thing) because of the storm. I decided to stay out of work on Thursday and went to get IV fluids at the cancer center because I was so dehydrated and still having problems eating or drinking anything and keeping anything down. They decided I should also do a sample to see if I had anything going on with my digestive system. Friday I took my sample to the hospital first thing. Later that morning I had what they call a paracentesis. That is where they take fluid build up off your abdomen. They were able to take 1 1/2 liters of fluid off! After the IV fluids on Thursday and the paracentesis on Friday I was feeling better but still having digestive problems.
Dr. Kim called me later Friday afternoon and told me I had a bad bacterial infection called C-Diff in my digestive system. It is a specific kind of bacterial C infection that causes mild to life-threatening forms of diarrhea and colitis. Because my system is compromised from the chemo he wanted me to go to the emergency room immediately and that I may have to stay overnight.
I didn't have to wait too long in the ER. I was able to have my blood drawn and they decided that I could go home with oral antibiotics that I would have to take for 14 days. Since Friday I have been able to eat and drink much better. My friend Robin did some shopping for me to get some things I needed. Thank you Robin! I just stayed home and rested, and watched movies and the Olympics all weekend.
I am starting to feel I am on the mend. I am sure it will take me a few more days for the antibiotics to work their magic but am much better then I was all last week. I have been bleaching all the surfaces around the house and at work. Just one more hiccup in this road to recovery. But I am on my way. I see Dr. Kim again tomorrow and hopefully I can stay on track for my next chemo which should be next Friday.
Its been a very busy end of 2017 and beginning of 2018. I had my last visit with Doctor Ramdin in September. She was moving to PA to be closer to her family.
I have a new doctor, Dr. Kim. My numbers were great in September. The CA 125 cancer marker was 12! It needed to be between 0 and 30. I had more blood work taken late in December .
I had my first appointment with Dr. Kim in the beginning of January. He let me know that my CA 125 number had gone up. It went from 12 to 1000. I had my ct scan done again and there are a few spots that need to be cleared up. The cancer had not spread anywhere else. It's only located in my abdomen. I also noticed over Christmas and over the last month I was feeling more bloated again. I will start losing my hair again in about 14 to 17 days. Back to the hats!
Dr. Kim had me start Chemo again last Friday. I am doing Chemo 6 times every 21 days. After that I will be put on a chemo pill specifically for ovarian cancer. It's like what they put breast cancer patients on. That should keep the cells from growing back. I have completed all my paper work for FMLA so that I can still work but have protections for my job.
I am in great spirits despite this setback. I am doing everything I can to beat this back again and will! It's all about being proactive!
I have increased my funds a bit to help with the ongoing expenses I have again as well as the ones I will be getting during the next 6 months. When will we have affordable health care! I appreciate all the help I have gotten from you in the past. It makes a big difference. It's great to have friends and family like you to help me through this. You are very special to me.
I just wanted to let everyone know I could not have done this journey with out your help and support. It really makes a difference! I am still digging out from all the bills but I have been working full time now since May. I am back to my original job here at Unity College as a Development Officer. I will be back on the road talking to Alumni and Corporations in January. I can't wait!
I have a new Chemotherapist that I will be seeing in January. Dr. Ramdin who I loved moved to PA to be closer to her family. I get that! I will miss her. She was great and easy to talk to. She worked with me to keep me as healthy as I could be during my treatments. I wish her well on her move.
I still get tired more easily then I used to but I am hoping 2018 will get my energy back up to 100%. I am looking forward to spending a week with my family in Buffalo. I have not been to Buffalo in 2 years so this will be a treat! I am looking forward to just hanging out with Susan, Kay and Pam and seeing my cousin Sally and other friends. Life is good!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my very special friends and supporters. You do make a difference in someone's life. Especially mine. Thank you!
I am so sorry that this is happening all over again. You will be in our prayers for God to give you strength and that wonderfully positive disposition that you were able to rely on to help get you through the last bout. Sending love your way. Ginny and Bob
So sorry to hear about these set backs, which I remember from my mom's experiences with ovarian cancer. The parenthesis gave her much relief, and the c-diff can be a tough one. Continuing prayer Liz ~ Cindi (Krespan) McGee
Good to hear your update Liz. Wishing you well as you continue your journey. I can't imagine how hard this has been for you but your determination and positive outlook is amazing. Lifting you up again in prayer. ~Cindi (Krespan) McGee
Good news Liz! I'm so glad that the treatments have helped you. You are a strong lady and we love you!
Thank you so much for this update. It’s a great Christmas gift to know you are doing so well. It was an honor to be of some help and I applaud your courage and perseverance. Merry Christmas Liz, and have a wonderful 2018.
Hi Pat, I didn't have back pain. I had major abdominal bloating that continued to get worse very fast. I was lucky to have a doctor that was concerned because of my family history and had me go get tests the day I went to see her. Ovarian and Uterine cancer are silent killers and many women don't know until it's too late. The CA 125 test should be done as a routine test just like mammograms.
Did you have a lot of back pain that was unusual That was how I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and found out after I had historicrect. I just had a touch of ovarian cancer that is one of the symptoms Pat
Congrats on zero! This is great news.
Awesome news Liz!! So happy to hear it.
Congratulations and keep up the great work!! Best of Luck for totally staying away from any treatment forever and enjoy a well earned summer off chemo!!
What an inspiring and comprehensive update. Yes, you amazing us all, and we were so glad to be able to be there and help you through the surgery. The Clements and Patterments are an unstoppable team!
Hi Liz- Glad to hear the strength is coming back and taste and less numbness. When you are all done after the next bout of chemo it will even get better!! I also had the IP Port and I really think that is what allowed me to do so well in my survivorship. The dosage does get right in there to the tissues and under the abdomen so it really helps to get all that stuff that might be roaming around!! Hope surgery does go well with quick recovery!! My Best to you and I will be thinking of you next week. Jane Piduch
Liz -thanks for sharing and giving us the update. I will be sending prayers your way! That is such good news about the cancer gone. It is your positive spirit that has made the difference. You are in the home stretch now. Stay positive and keep that"fighting to conquer " spirit up.
What a brave & busy woman! Personally, I think the beer was a brilliant idea ~ even the ancients knew it had healing powers! We'll keep a six-pack on ice for you. Jen & Mary
Liz I just wanted to let you know my mom was diagnosed with ovarian ca more than 30 years ago stage 4. Was given 6 months to live and has been in remission and still alive. She had surgery and chemo. So hang in there. We are all rooting for you
I am so impressed and happy that you had such an enjoyable holiday.
You're an inspiration, sister-dear!
I'm so glad to hear about your progress. It takes time to get better. I've been on infusion treatments since March, every other week for 5-6 hours each time. I still don't have all of my feeling in my hands and feet, but it's slowly coming back. Keep up your positive attitude! You are a roll model for many! Have a very Merry Christmas! Gerri
Hi Liz- So glad your Dr. can help the symptoms- drugs are a wonderful thing when you need them and make quality of life better!! The fatigue is awful- I couldn't make it up my stairs some days without stopping- but believe me when I say that does get better and symptoms go away slowly when chemo ends!! Yes- you will be amazed at yourself for surviving and making it through this journey- and you will be sooo much stronger for it!! Keep on baking and Merry Christmas to you, Pam and Sue. Sally will be spending the day with us!!
Keep the faith! You are going to get thru this. Those cookies sound yummy!