Sunday, July 13, 2008

Will somebody please explain to me what just happened?

So, Ethan suggested I start a blog.  My first reaction was panic, but then realized that it would be a good way to pass along news to you, and might even be beneficial for me.

I am sitting here at home, with a 4" incision on my belly, still reeling from the surgeon's words after the operation telling me I have ovarian cancer.  It happened so fast.  On June 16th I went to our family physician asking her to look at a lump I noticed on my left side.  She ordered an ultrasound which happened a week and a half later, and I got the results from her within a few days- large cysts on both ovaries.  One the size of an orange, the other a grapefruit.  She also let me know they weren't the usual fluid filled cysts, they had solid parts as well.  She made me an appointment that same day with a doctor specializing in minimally invasive surgery to figure out the next step, and also had me go in for a CT scan.  The specialist did another ultrasound exam and decided to make an appointment for me the following Monday the 30th with an oncologist, he said "just in case" it was cancer they wanted to be prepared for any scenario.   So at this point it was scary, but still the chance of cancer seemed very remote.  My friend Allison and her son accompanied me to this appointment, as Ethan was in L.A. for the memorial of a good friend.  Thank goodness they were with me, I started panicking a bit when I saw the harpist playing in the hallway of the medical center!  The oncologist I met with let me know that he didn't think laparoscopy (minimally invasive) surgery was the way to go.  The CT scan results showed enlarged lymph nodes and some other red flags.  He suggested the laparotomy should be scheduled for Thurs. July 3rd, just 3 days away.    After much debate we decided to trust the oncologist's call.  The surgery went well and I stayed in the hospital for 3 nights, then went home with Nurse Ethan.  While I was in the hospital the surgeon visited to let me know it was indeed ovarian cancer and it had spread to a few other places within my abdomen.  They had removed my uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, omentum, appendix and a few lymph nodes.

Nutshell version:
-June 16th:  Showed family MD lump in pelvic area
-June 25th:  Ultrasound
-June 27th:  Results from ultrasound: large suspicious looking cysts on both ovaries.  Appt. with specialist.  CT scan
-June 30:  Appt. with oncologist
-July 3:  Surgery
-July 6:  Home


  1. I'm so glad you're doing this blog! It'll be a good way for you to both spread your news and process things. Your first post has already pointed me to something I had never heard of before: the omentum.

  2. Hi Annabelle - wow - that is a big adventure! I can't believe how quickly that all happened. I hope that you recover quickly and get a clean bill of health... my love to you, Ethan and Sarah.

    PS: Hi Bronwyn!!

  3. Annabelle, thanks for starting the blog. This way we don't all have to call you for updates. Instead we can call and comment on the comments. I am looking forward to being part of your big Hawaiian adventure!

  4. Yay Annabelly--a good beginning to a very worthwhile place for us all to connect and stay up to date and cheer lead and coordinate and make funny remarks and all that stuff. Many kisses and hugs to you! Did you get outside for some fresh air lately? I'll call tomorrow.

    m a

  5. wow I never thought I'd equate you with peewee though i suppose i can see a resemblance. :) Maybe you'll find his bike along the way.

    Thanks for doing the blog. Is good for you and the rest of the clan.


  6. I had to look up "omentum." Can I give you mine?

  7. Oddly enough, you're not the first person I've heard mention that harpist. They may need to seriously rethink their choice of calming instruments.

  8. Harpists should be BANNED from hospitals! What are the thinking?

  9. Annabelle,
    I'm just getting to your blog... I asked Ethan to give you a hug for me through a Myspace message, then he replied that you are recovering from chemo. My guts dropped. This is how I learned the news... I didn't think I was reading things right. 'Chemo=Cancer. My friend is fighting cancer? No. No way' was what was going on in my head... So I asked Ethan for details and he directed me to your blog. Thank you for writing this blog. I think it's just as important for people living with cancer as it is for our loved ones...

    My journey here with you begins now as I start to read for the first time these entries you've made over the passed four months. The words "big adventure" is putting it mildly... more like "monumental" or "ginormous."

    And now my head is spinning back in time... I was with Ethan, Greg and Thom at Jack Marquette's memorial party on the day you just went in for a routine OB appointment, then unexpectedly was swept into this new reality.

    Now it makes sense to me why Ethan appeared tense at Jack's memorial, not like his usual self. I shot photos of him pacing around... Hard to get a steady picture without a blur because he paced so much... It's different now having this kind of explanation in the background, as if it's saying "this is what was really going on..."

    Ethan couldn't say what was going on because things were unknown but felt, and he related to me that he felt torn for being away from home and how he was anxious about getting back to you. I thought it was silly some because it was "only the weekend. Go hang out with old LA friends. You rarely get to see any of us because you've got this grown up life now as a businessman and family man..." Dumb of me... I can only imagine Ethan's hurt and guilty feelings. I'm having this reaction now as I learn about what's happened... I can also imagine the hurt and frustration you must have felt for being on your own when your doctor said "this may be cancer." God! Life is so unpredictable. An unexpected crisis can pop up at any time, we may be on our own when that happens, and we may have to fight for our lives... put into a place where we have to act strong for our loved ones and not let them fear life without us...

    It's bothering me to say this in a public way, but I've been nervous about a lump in my abdominal area... left side... a swollen lymph... so all last week I've been reading message boards about what the symptoms are for ovarian cancer... and tearfully I'm here reading about how this has become your life, fearing for my own life, and fearing what my OB may tell me next week might have to send me into CT Scan Central... I have to cry. I'm so sad, Annabelle. It's just not fair.

    your friend since 1984