Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Decisions of Life

I was hoping that my follow-up hospital appointment would give me some closure on the last few months of Derek's rude invasion of my body.

Yesterday's appointment didn't give me that and instead it gave me a serious amount of thinking to do and some very difficult decisions to make.

The pathology results showed that Derek was a Borderline Ovarian Tumour (BOC). I was told by the consultant not to look on the Internet because the information is very limited and in most cases, explanations of BOC include the word cancer. He stressed it is important to know that I didn't and don't have cancer. This was and is a huge relief and I think a giant cloud has lifted from my family and friends. But it is still very hard to understand what Derek was - apparently it is so complex that even doctors don't fully understand. My lovely friend Peta found this for me though:

What is borderline ovarian cancer (BOC)?
BOC is probably best defined by what it is not. ‘Ordinary’ ovarian cancer is when cells grow uncontrollably on the surface of the ovary and are able to spread to other organs. Most cases of ordinary ovarian cancer are found at an advanced stage (stage 3 or 4). This is when the cancer has spread beyond the ovary. Although BOC arises from the same type of cells on the surface of the ovary, their growth is much more controlled, and they are usually not able to invade other tissues.
For this reason, some doctors prefer the term ‘borderline ovarian tumour’ rather than ‘borderline ovarian cancer’.
Because BOC behaves in a much less aggressive way, in most women the condition has not spread beyond the ovary when it is diagnosed (stage 1 disease). This means that for women who have had surgery to remove an early disease, the risk of it coming back is very small (less than 5%). Most experts recommend that no special follow-up is needed after surgery for stage 1 BOC.

It then goes onto explain that there are some difficult cases and of course, I am one of those:
- Stage-1 borderline ovarian tumours in young women treated with limited surgery to allow you to keep your ovary. There could be an increased risk of the disease coming back in the ovary you have kept.

I already know that there is a smaller version of Derek (now named Eric) on my remaining left ovary so the disease has spread. It was always the plan from when originally discussing with my consultant Mr Metcalf, that we would do the procedure in stages, giving me the chance to think about fertility options etc.

It was always more my worry that I wouldn't be able to have children and that it would be taken away from me, so to be faced with the reality that I now have those decisions to make, is all very overwhelming.

I have two options: I can either leave little Eric where he is, have him monitored regularly and try to conceive naturally and when I am ready to. I can have some eggs frozen also and to keep them as a back up plan if Eric suddenly grows at the same speed and I have to have my left ovary removed.
The other option is to have my eggs frozen asap and to have the surgery to remove my remaining ovary at the earliest possible chance. This will ensure that all the 'nasties' are out and I have no risk of the tumour spreading onto other areas in my pelvis (such as my bowel) which will involved greater surgery.

I cried all afternoon yesterday. All I wanted was for it all to be over; to come away from the hospital with a clean bill of health and to know what it is all behind me. I think until I have more surgery it is always going to be at the back of my mind that I have something 'alien' inside me. There are too many what ifs to leave it there - what if it suddenly grows, what if I fell pregnant and the hormones made it grow at speed - how would that affect the baby, what if it does spread.. what if... what if....

In three weeks time I have to go back with my decision, which at the moment is to have it all removed as soon as possible and to have some eggs frozen for when I am ready. I don't want to rush anything or feel under any pressure to have children before I am really ready to.
And if it doesn't work and I can't have children well that is something that I will have to deal with when it happens.

At the moment I am just very thankful for a such a loving and supportive family and circle of friends.

2 comments:

aerate harsh ladle said...

Oh dear, Jo. No advice, but here's a scenario you may not have considered. At the age of 31, I had a child. She was born with downs syndrome and, for a number of reasons, I had her adopted. My then husband refused, after several months of not wanting to talk about it, to consider having another. I decided to stick with the marriage, but it failed a few years later. Too late for me to do anything about starting a family.

If you have the chance to almost certainly guarantee you can have a child, with or without a partner, the option of harvesting & freezing eggs for the future deserves serious consideration. In many ways, it puts you in a stronger position than many other women.

My heart goes out to you.

Sarah x

Jo said...

Thanks Sarah.
Sorry to hear of your experience - thanks for sharing, what an arse of an ex husband. Have been reading your blog so know I can say that.
I am definitely seeing a fertility clinic so will get some eggs frozen for the future.
xx