Hello to everyone,
I am writing this from far north in Estonia, I am 20 years old and my 53 year old mother was diagnosed with 3rd stage endometrial cancer in early December of 2020. She had complained about lower abdominal pain month prior and visited several doctors until a tumour was discovered in her left ovary. More tests were done, including biopsy to determine the cancer type, also several scans across the entire body.
Initial diagnose was bit more positive, tumours were located in the left ovary and the uterus. Unfortunately after few more scans it was clear that the cancer has spread further- left ovary, uterus, surrounding lymph nodes and lower part of abdominal cavity. No upper body metastasis.
Current plan is rather minimal, previous plan included surgery but now they have decided to start with chemotherapy (she had her first treatment today). She is feeling okay currently (just few hours after first therapy ended), treatment lasted more than five hours and she received two different types of medication (that I cant name). She will receive another dose in 3 weeks and third dose 3 weeks after second time. Then they decide further steps.
Of course news like this always shock everyone, my mother was slightly upset but held up quite nicely. Me and my brother's family immediately tried to look out for positive sides and outlooks. Rather shy and seemingly cold reactions as it is usual for northern europeans, nothing new here. Dark humour is common among estonians and so it is among our family, so that is lightening up the mood a bit. But yes, I think we all have cried by now in the family. I try my best not to do it in front of my mother because I like to maintain a mentality that cancer diagnosis does not equal a death sentence, which I know is true. I like to take it as any other disease, which has much higher survival rates as ever before. Although sometimes I do feel like I might be fooling myself.
I have battled with depression since last year and was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which sometimes does play role in the way I see the whole situation. But most of the times I try to see it as realistically as possible. And keep myself in check.
She seems to worry about how others go through these difficult times more than about herself. She has plenty of loving family and friends around her, with the only negative side being the ongoing pandemic which makes meeting with friends impossible.
My questions mostly would be:
1. How severe can the chemotherapy side effects get? She was given quite a long list of possible effects and prescribed medication for nausea and muscle/bone pain.
2. If anyone has gone through similar situation themselves, what might be some advice that is important and often not spoken about.
3. What is the outlook for this type of cancer and stage? I do realize that every person is different and every body reacts differently. She is otherwise healthy woman. How likely is that she does come out of this as a cancer free person (I am not scared of unlikeliness).
Hello @frostbite and welcome to our community!
Sorry to hear of your mother's diagnosis, but it sounds like she has an incredible support team in yourself, your brother and the rest of the family ❤️
To tackle a few of your questions...
Chemotherapy and the side effects people may experience, can vary from person to person. You may like to download this booklet on Understanding Chemotherapy, it will help you with this.
There are definitely others here that have gone through, and are going through, chemotherapy and would be happy to share their thoughts. But everyone's experience can be different.
Let us know how your Mum is doing!
Cancer Council Online Community Manager
Update 3rd of March.
Hi again everyone,
my mother received her last set of chemo on Friday, she is currently feeling very weak and nauseated, but it is expected since it is her third time. Overall I would say we expected it to be worse (after reading "horror" stories about chemotherapy), in reality besides few days of feeling ill she was doing very good. The hair is obviously gone, but she has not lost any weight and is very active.
She will have a new scan on 18th to see if the medication actually has worked, we are all still hoping she could have a surgery which was previously too risky to be done. Fingers crossed, since the virus is currently having its peak here and hospital beds are very limited, it may affect oncological departments as well.
Update, end of April.
My mother finally had the surgery yesterday after 4 rounds of chemo. She had a hysterectomy that lasted about five hours. And the surgery was a big success, she had minimal blood loss and it went very smoothly. She is now recovering in the hospital and should get home to rest in a week.
Also, during the first scan in January, doctor found signs of possible cells in the abdominal cavity but it was very hard to tell where exactly and how widespread. During surgery they found nothing! Which according to the doctor means that the chemo worked very well for her and has killed most if not all cancer cells in the abdominal cavity and peritoneum.
Is the cancer gone? Probably not, but it is a big win for sure.
Is your Mum also looking into anti-cancer and lifestyle? Not that you can stop cancer, but there is so much research these days, that documents increasing or lessening the risk of cancer re-occuring. Is this something that strikes a chord with you and your family?-☺🙂
A very late update,
This is a very late update but hopefully also a final one on this journey.
After months of chemo, extensive surgery that went very well, my mom had radiation therapy as last part of the treatment. And the good news is- it worked!
My mom is officially cancer-free since last May. She has also returned to work from this autumn. Of course she will have check-ups every six months for quite some time, but that is understandable.
She has some problems with fluid collecting in her legs (due to surgery) that make them occasionally swollen but she is also seeing doctor for that.
We had our celebration and reflected with her how much of a close call it really was. We went through her initial diagnosis documents and the fact that her first treatment plan was described as palliative care was pretty shocking.
I am very thankful for her doctor and surgeon who were so supportive and detail-oriented. They did everything possible to defeat the cancer and used new treatment methods not used in Estonia before, so it was a big step for better treatment plans for everyone.
Thank you for the support!
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