I thought that after I put those sobering statistics up for all of you yesterday, I'd be a bit more positive today and feature a cool ovarian cancer survivor (you know, there are many of us out there...). Check out Gina DePalma. I may not be a kick ass pastry chef but I think I'm a bit of a cowgirl, too!
I have so much to catch up on with you all -- from the Souther Swing photos to Monday's appointment with Dr. E to a shot from tonight's festivities. Where does the time go? Well, I'm off to Vermont at 0500 hours tomorrow morning, which is when my parents will pull up to load my stuff in the car. Wish us luck on the New Jersey Turnpike and 95...it's a jungle out there! I'll be back with all of my updates on Monday or Tuesday when I've returned from the festivities.
- Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer among women in the United States (2004).
- Ovarian cancer has remained the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among U.S. women since 1999. Mortality rates are slightly less for minority women than for Caucasian women.
- Approximately 174,236 women living in the United States have or have a history of ovarian cancer.
- One in 72 women will develop ovarian cancer (lifetime risk). One in 95 women will die from ovarian cancer.
- The overall five-year relative survival rate for all women with ovarian cancer is 46 percent. This means that compared to women in the general population, five years from the time of diagnosis only 46 percent of women with ovarian cancer are still alive.
- However, the survival rate improves greatly to 93 percent if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage before it has spread. Only 19 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at this local stage.
- Approximately 75 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage after the cancer has spread beyond the ovary.
- The five-year survival rate for women with ovarian cancer has not significantly increased in the past 30 years—a mere 8 percent.
- Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer from 1975 to 1979 experienced a five-year survival rate of approximately 38 percent. Today this rate is approximately 46 percent.
- The issue of ovarian cancer recurrence is complicated. Research suggests that between 70 percent to 90 percent of all women with ovarian cancer will, at some point, have a recurrence of their disease. The risk of recurrence varies based on multiple factors, including the stage at diagnosis. For example, approximately 70 – 80 percent of patients with optimal stage III ovarian cancer will have a recurrence. In case you're wondering, I'm optimal stage IIC (30 percent recurrance rate)/IIIA and have the desirable synchronous primaries as well, so realistically, I'd put my odds somewhere around 50 percent.
- From 2001 to 2005, the most recent period for which data is available, the median age at diagnosis for ovarian cancer was 63 years. Approximately 13 percent of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 45 years or younger.
- Over the past decade there has been a slight decrease – less than 1 percent per year – in ovarian cancer incidence rates, however, during the same time, the actual incidence numbers increased by approximately 3,000 women.
- During most of the past decade (1996 to 2005), the ovarian cancer mortality rate has remained stable while the breast cancer mortality rate has decreased 2.2 percent per year (1990 to 2005) and the cervical cancer mortality rate has decreased 3.4 percent per year in a similar time period (1995 to 2005).
In case it wasn't clear before, now you know while I'll continue to try to live life to its fullest everyday from here on out AND why I'll be crusading so hard against this cancer for the rest of my days.
The Rehoboth beach crew's teal toes, including Claire's, Skei's, Irene's, Heide's, Lee's, Macon's (yes, that's a guy), and Chris' (another guy!)...I'm probably leaving out one or two.
As you'll see any kind of teal will do! That's Michelle's and my feet on the lawn of The Sanctuary in Charleston with our teal toes.
Do you know how many notable people have battled this disease? Well, there's a lot. The list includes people like Coretta Scott King, Kathy Bates (surviving), Gilda Radner, McDreamy's mom (surviving), Angelina's mom, Dinah Shore, and Louisa from The Sound of Music (surviving). Check out the full list here.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Digging out of what, you ask? Well, let's see: bills (think I have another fight with my insurance company on my hands...), mail, dog hair, blog photo postings (am going to get those Southern Swing photos up soon and a full recap of yesterday, as well), birthday thank you notes, my ovarian cancer awareness month project, which will most likely not make it to everyone until the month is over, etc. etc. I have a lot of catching up to do over the next month before I go back to work. And, in case you're wondering, I still have a lot of medical appointments as well. I'll give you a full run down on what the next several months look like for me after my last chemo planning appointment with Dr. E on Monday but the bottom-line is that while my formal treatment is over there is still much ahead, including a new anti-estrogen drug I will take everyday for at least the next five years but probably for the rest of my life (Tamoxifan), regular blood work, regular CT scans and perhaps other scans, a visit to the plastic surgeon to see what I can do to improve the look and feel of my scar short of a tummy tuck because, uh, well, there's really nothing to tuck and I hear it's a miserable surgery anyway, and much, much more.
Oh, and as for the future of this blog, I still haven't decided how long it's going to "live." I know it will live through the one year anniversary of my diagnosis (March 10, 2010) but I don't really know beyond that. I'd like to keep it to provide good news to everyone on my scans and blood work, my progress on my triathlon training (more on that in October...), as well as the various ovarian/gynecologic cancer awareness-building and fundraising activities I undertake, but part of me thinks it will need to be re-branded at a certain point, right? I mean, we know that Cancer was there now and we also know it's now gone so at some point, I think the name needs to evolve. I had a nurse suggest to me yesterday that perhaps the new name should be, "Jennie Won, Cancer 0," and I liked that a lot. Or it could be "Sans Ovaries," which is my Twitter name. Let me know if you have thoughts on re-branding/launch timeline.
Okay, I'm off to do stuff. Thanks to all of you who sent messages yesterday. They brightened my day as I lay there getting infused for THE LAST TIME!
I want each and everyone of you who has written, called, commented on this blog, sent me a Facebook message, written my parents, cooked me a meal (let alone a vegan one!), given me a generous cancer gift (from autographed get well wishes from Glenn Close to pretty pajamas to life-changing books to massage gift certificates and on and on), etc. to know that the ways in which you've supported me over the past six+ months has made all the difference in my outlook and is one of the main reasons that I am and will remain cancer-free. It is true that our friends are the family that we choose for ourselves and, as I have said before but will say again, I have chosen well. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything. I hope that I am able to repay each one of you for your generosity someday but if not, please know this: I promise I will spend the rest of my days crusading against this awful disease, particularly raising money to find a good diagnostic test for and building awareness about ovarian cancer or "the disease that whispers" as it is known in cancer circles.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Time to go pop those pills...for the last time!
We had dinner with Bobby's girlfriend, Ansley, our first night in town. She suggested Wild Olive and I'm so glad she did -- absolutely delicious northern Italian dishes.
Reunited and it feels so good! River and Ansley's dog, Coach, checking each other out.
If you look closely, you can tell just how excited Coach was to see River. Sorry...I couldn't help myself!
The dynamic duo.
Mom took a brief break from painting the dining room set to enjoy some time lounging on Sullivan's.
I took many breaks from painting. This is just one of them!
The bride-to-be, Michelle, during her cocktail hour "sprinkle" at The Sanctuary.
Me and Mom in our favorite Adirondak chairs on the veranda of The Sanctuary.
My yummy cosmo!
Michelle showing off one of her gifts. What is that Michelle?!?
Michelle, me, and Mom.
A perfect Low Country sunset. Gorgeous!
Michelle on Sullivan's (a.k.a. my favorite beach in town). This was her first beach trip in several years and she loved Sullivan's as much as I do.
Heading out to downtown for dinner at the Blossom Cafe on Michelle's second night with us.
Enjoying the view of the Cooper River Bridge from the Market Pavillion Inn's rooftop bar following dinner.
Next stop: Richmond. This photo was taken sometime around 1:45 a.m at my friend Dave's house in Richmond. Obviously, it was a fun dinner party. Congrats to me for staying awake that late and congrats to Kindra for figuring out the timer on her camera! From left to right: Dave, me, Karl, and Kindra.
All smiles! Kindra and me.
I'm holding up okay following this treatment but am tired right now. I packed a lot in today: a 30-minute walk with River, the dog park, brunch, a short 50 -100 yard "walk" with my grandfather for his daily exercise, a trip to Border's to shop for my grandfather's funeral music with him (don't ask...he's recovering from knee surgery at my parent's right now and is very focused on planning his Naval Academy funeral service in his down time), a dessert on the patio of La Madeline per my grandfather's request (it's next to the Border's and as soon as he saw it, he had to have a dessert...he's got a wicked sweet tooth!), a long chat with my good friend Ali whose wedding I'm in the first weekend of October, and that about covers it. Now I must give myself a shot of Neupogen before heading over to the Riddy's for some baked ziti and salad. Double yum for the day! Don't worry, I will be home in bed early, though.
Oh, and I think that I'll finally get around to posting Southern Swing trip photos tomorrow. We'll see how things go!
So, I'm waiting for the call from the hospital for Day 2's Cisplatin infusion. I'll get there around 9 ish probably, start getting infused around noonish, will take my Benadryl nap (amen!), and then hang out the rest of the afternoon waiting to do my rotisserie chicken flipping at the end of it all. Good times! I will feel very bloated (my abdomen will be filled with about 2000 cc of fluid) and tired at the end of today's session and will probably just come home, drink an Ensure, and call it a day. Sounds awesome, doesn't it? Just so the poison does its job...that's all I care about!
Okay, so now that you know I'm back from Charleston in one piece and how I'll spending my day (and tomorrow and part of Friday for hydration therapy), I'm going to run and get ready for all of the fun and games. I promise to get the photos from our trip posted soon. Happy hump day!
I'm feeling good but have had a pinching cramp in my side for the past several days close to where I think my abdominal catheter hangs out under my rib cage. I can't figure out if the catheter is rubbing something OR if I just have a deep muscular issue from my lack of stretching. Hmm...regardless, it's highly uncomfortable, particularly if I take a deep breath or cough. Otherwise, no complaints. We're hitting the road early tomorrow to head to Richmond for a quick overnight stay with the Kirkebys (a.k.a Kindra, Karl, Henry, and Jack) before our return to reality (and treatment...boo!). I'm excited to see the progress on their new addition!
As promised, see below for the "after" pictures of the dining room project. What do you think? It was definitely a labor of love (and there's a thin line between love and hate...) but I think we're on the road to achieving the right look for the room. To be honest, my mother did far more painting than I did as the fumes really bothered me and I developed mild carpal tunnel syndrome from pressing down on the spray can with my pointer finger. (I know...how wimpy, right?) Oh, and be sure to check out what's coming next...wall/ceiling paint, a rug, custom placemats and window treatments!
A full Charleston pictorial round-up is promised before the end of the week. Have a great Monday everyone!
Voila! The new look of the dining room chair. Please refer to my recent "Before..." post for a refresher on the old look.
A shot of the entire "new" set in the dining room. The chandelier is from Ballard Designs. My grandfather made me the the sideboard in the background, which my cousin Heather painted and glazed for me years ago. I'm a big fan of reworking and recycling furniture!
Another view of the set with the corner cupboard in the background. My father got the corner cupboard from a job site. Good eye, Dad! Eventually, the dining room table will have some sort of coral piece as a centerpiece.
A close-up shot of the interior of the corner cupboard. We plan to add some coral accents to the shelves because coral will be the third color of the dining room.
What's next: My mom is getting double-sided custom placemats for a Christmas present from me (no surprises in this family!) -- one side will be the coral seashell print on the left and the other the khaki stripe; we're EVENTUALLY going to paint the dining room walls the coral color at the top of the left paint swatch and the ceiling the light blue on the top of the right swatch; we're probably going to make simple fixed roman shade curtains out of the khaki stripe for the window treatments; and I like the large loop sisal rug sample on the right with a navy border for the rug in the room. FYI - large loop sisals are MUCH more comfortable to walk on then small loop sisals or sea grass rugs.
Welcome everyone! From left to right: Alisa, Heather, me, Jill, S'Nokes, and Layla. I'm spening New Year's in the BVIs with Heather, Jill, and Layla, all of whom I spent last New Year's with in Jackson Hole. Needless to say, we're looking forward to this year's warmer temps!
Pretty ladies: My cousin Heather, who is a nurse and yogi and my wellness guru, and Kristin.
My mom's toast to our friends, my dad, and moi! For someone who REALLY hates public speaking, she did a FANTASTIC job!
Camera troubles again, hence the sideways view. Blowing out the candles on 33! Bet you can't guess what my wish is for next year?!?
My college roommate and dear friend Shannon couldn't make it out from San Francisco for the party but she sent me these gorgeous flowers. She was so thoughtful to have the florist do them in a teal vase and include a teal ribbon (you know, for ovarian cancer awareness...). Thank you, Shannon!