Stage 2 Ovarian Cancer – How Leg Pain Saved My Life
I had never given a thought to ovarian cancer, and why would I? When it comes to gynecological cancers you hear about breast cancer all the time, uterine cancer, and cervical cancer when you go for your annual Pap smear, but you never hear much at all about ovarian cancer. I think it’s getting a little more noticed these days but several years ago I really didn’t give it a thought.
I’m sure I probably heard the words before at some point but until I was diagnosed with stage 2 ovarian cancer I was pretty ignorant of signs and symptoms and had no idea what to look for. Not to mention I was a very healthy person – rarely even got the flu or colds – and the last thing I expected to hear from my doctor was the dreaded word, “cancer.”
As it turned out, I had probably been having early warning signs for some time, possibly years, but I attributed them all as just regular old signs of getting a little older (but not that old! I was only 43) and entering that time in life where different things start to bother you or basically fall apart, kind of like a car that is reaching the end of your warranty. You know how that goes, your warranty runs out and you’re in the repair shop every other week.
So I had been having very typical symptoms and had no idea, symptoms such as indigestion (never had that before), bloating, change in menstrual periods (heavier), and some pelvic pain shortly after my periods. The pelvic discomfort/painIt was really a strange symptom I thought because it wasn’t right along with that time of the month but several days after. But then it would go away and I would just figure, you know, getting older, et cetera.
But then I started having this annoying leg pain. It was sort of a radiating pain, so I figured it must be something to do with a nerve. I have a little medical knowledge so I thought, could it be some sort of back issue like sciatica? No, I didn’t think so, because it didn’t follow the usual M.O. for that type of nerve pain. Instead of being alleviated by rest it was alleviated by getting up and walking. Maybe a muscle strain? How about fibroids? Yes, that was it, I decided, fibroids. I went online and researched all the symptoms and everything added up! A huge fibroid must be pressing on my sciatic nerve and causing this intolerably aggravating leg pain. I made an appointment with my gynecologist and she agreed, yes, that must be it. Whew, great, nothing that serious to worry about.
My gynecologist sent me for an ultrasound where a large mass was seen, so I was immediately sent to a gynecologic oncologist. This was extremely scary but I was reassured by hearing this is the best person for any type of GYN problems (not only cancer but anything abnormal) that are out of the norm because these doctors are very specialized. However, it is very scary to be sitting in the oncologist’s office wondering if you may have cancer. You look around the waiting room and see all the obvious chemotherapy patients, and it’s quite overwhelming.
As soon as I had my exam, my doctor scheduled surgery, and soon! My surgery was done six days later and the diagnoses was stage 2 ovarian cancer.
I was then scheduled to begin chemotherapy. I did not want to hear this! All I could think of was losing my hair. In the grand scheme of things this is such a small thing, but believe me, when you are faced this it just seems so awful and dreadful.
But there was good news hidden inside all of the bad, and that was that I only had stage 2 ovarian cancer and not a later stage which is most often diagnosed (due to the fact that no one realizes they are having any symptoms to be worried about). It is only a very very tiny percentage of diagnoses that are made at stage 1 or 2. The majority of all ovarian cancer diagnoses are made at stage 3 or 4. These later stages are a lot different in terms of prognosis (but not hopeless! there is always hope).
I am happy to say I made it through it all and am now cancer free. I do believe though that if I had not had the leg pain I would not have gone to the doctor anytime soon, probably not for quite some time (I really dislike going to the doctor and always put it off), as my symptoms were just so nonspecific and seemingly very benign, and my disease may have gone unnoticed and kept growing to stage III or IV.
So please heed your body’s communication with you and if you have anything going on that seems really out of the ordinary for you, even if it is ordinary for others, any early warning signs whatsoever, have it checked out by a doctor. It could make a huge difference in your ultimate diagnosis.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are my chances of living with colon rectal cancer and ovarian cancer?
I had a dime size spot on my colon, I also have sickle cell and fibroids in my uterus, then they told me I have ovarian cancer also.
I have undergone chemo but it is not working, the doctor told me that my body is not able to fight it. I am scheduled to begin radiation next week. Can anyone help me? Am I going to die?
wow I will pray for you…But one question for you right back as part of my answer…why not live as though you were dieing?
Relative has fibroids/ ovarian cyst (fluid filled) after ultrasound. Doc said ‘nothing indicitive of cancer’-?
…but he still did the endometrial biopsy. Thickened uterine wall with symptoms of longer periods- in the middle of menopause. Could this be a benign condition?
Yes it can be and apparently it is.
had ovarian cyst/fibroid surg & was diagnosed with endometriosis. now i have fibroids back and septated cyst.
6 months after surgery the cyst was back.. with heavy periods.. and now it’s become a septated cyst. do i need to worry that it might lead to ovarian cancer. been told to closely watch & have had regular ultrasounds, but would removing it be safer. also have had vaginal itching lately. is it related?
Ive had the same prob i had a cyst removed from my uterus it was 7cm in dia. i beat endometriosis with hormones that was 10 years ago no sign of it. i think removing it is a good option depends on you age. i suffer from vaginal dryness with itching it may be related as i have only had it since having my cyst removed in feb 2007. i would find a good gino and talk to them about your problems good luck and i hope it all works out for the best
Do ovarian cysts usually need to be surgically removed?
I was told today after getting MRI results that I need to see an oncologist. I always thought that most ovarian cysts and fibroids are not cancer. I have no symptoms, no pain, no bleeding.
Do you think I’ll have to have that godd-awful test called a ‘Hysterosonography?’
the report mentioned that I should go for a transvaginal sonogram for more information.
Typically, ovarian cysts are functional (not disease or cancer related) and occur as a normal process of ovulation. During the days before ovulation, a follicle grows. But at the time of expected ovulation, the follicle fails to break open and release an egg, as it is supposed to. Instead, the fluid within the follicle remains and forms a cyst.
Functional, or physiological, ovarian cysts usually disappear within 8-12 weeks without treatment. They are relatively common, and are more common during a woman’s childbearing years (puberty to menopause). Ovarian cysts are rare after menopause.
Functional ovarian cysts are not the same as ovarian tumors (including ovarian cancer) or cysts due to hormone-related conditions such as polycystic ovarian disease. Some non-functional ovarian cysts must be treated to go away.
An ovarian cyst can cause pain if it pushes on nearby structures, ruptures or bleeds. Pain may also occur if the cyst is twisted or causes twisting (torsion) of the fallopian tube.
Symptoms of ovarian cysts can include:
* Pelvic pain – constant, dull aching
* Pain with intercourse or pelvic pain during movement
* Pain during bowel movements
* Pelvic pain shortly after beginning or ending a menstrual period
* Abnormal uterine bleeding (change from normal menstrual pattern)
* Longer than usual menstrual cycle
* Shorter than usual menstrual cycle
* Absent menstruation
* Irregular menstruation
* Abdominal bloating or swelling
Often no symptoms are noted and ovarian cysts are found only be routine examinations. Usually birth control pills may be prescribed to help establish normal cycles and decrease the development of functional ovarian cysts.
Simple ovarian cysts that are larger than 5-10 centimetres and complex ovarian cysts that persist should and will usually be surgically removed via laparoscopy (minimal invasive surgery).
I would recommend that you discuss all the details such as the type of cyst, size of cyst etc with your doctor/gyno and ask them to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
I have suffered from many bilateral ovarian cysts over the past 10 years and have had to have surgery 2 times to the cysts removed (it wasn’t anything too serious).
I hope this helps to answer your question. Good luck 🙂
Ovarian cancer questions?
I am just nervous because my midwife (gyn care provider) told me my ovarian cyst on a recent ultrasound couldn’t be identified so the doc could “not rule out cystic neoplasm”, i.e. tumor.
In the past, I had laparoscopic surgery to remove a baseball sized fluid filled cyst with a “dermoid element” in the same ovary. That was 13 years ago. They couldn’t suck out the dermoid part and so just left it in there. It used to be a lot smaller than 2 x 2, so I think they just thought it would be ok. Meanwhile, I always had ovarian fluid cysts (NOT polycystic, but one or two per ovary of, say, 3×4 cm…for many years.)
I kept the condition monitored with ultrasounds for about 8 years. Then, I sort of realized that I was no longer going to have huge ovarian cysts, so I stopped telling my gyns to give me ultrasound.
While pregnant last year, ultrasounds discovered small fibroids (common condition that should be monitored) in the wall of my uterus. During routine gyn care this year, I reminded my midwife of this fact and she ordered an ultrasound to monitor the fibroids. “Oh,” I said, “you may as well look at the ovarian cysts while you are at it.” So, I had them examined, and a new result came up…no fluid cysts, but something more solid. Could this be the dermoid, just identified differently because it’s a different office?
My midwife told me she wants me to go to a gynecologist now to check this out. She said either they would do another test, if they didn’t trust the ultrasound I just had, or just go ahead and do exploratory surgery.
I am nervous. Ovarian cancer is more common than I anticipated. What is the likelihood my 2×2 thing is cancer? And what is my prognosis if it is?
I am overweight, put on 70 pounds with pregnancy and weigh 215 now! How does this affect any abdominal surgery? Will they really do that?
Thanks for any advice you have.
Exploratory surgery? How old is this midwife? Exploratory surgery for anything is rarely done anymore.
I’m not sure I’m completely following you as it seems you are asking 2 different questions. A cystic neoplasm is not a tumor. Tumors are solid.
Dermoid cysts are nearly always benign, but they should be completely removed preferably in one piece. They can recur if not completely excised and the association of dermoid cysts with pregnancy has been increasing.
I’m surprised they left some of it behind and it is the most important part.
Ovarian cancer is not real common and guessing you are under 35 less than 5% of the 25,000 cases each year are diagnosed in your age group. So I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
Try to get your hands on any of your past records and give the doctor a copy. If you get copies of past scans make them available for comparison when you have a current one done. As a patient this is probably one of the most important and often overlooked thing you can do for yourself.
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