Deborah from Canada shares her story with Pseudomyxoma Survivor:
I was working as a daybaker and would come home and fall asleep on the sofa soon after I got home. I was exhausted and, despite exercising regularly and watching what I was eating, my waist kept expanding over a period of seven months. I also experienced some backpain that felt like my muscles were torn apart (like Velcro). I thought I'd injured my back lifting and moving boxes of supplies in the bakery refrigerator. When my mother asked me if I was pregnant I began to feel unsettled.
I went to my regular physician who gave me a prescription for muscle relaxants for my back and a note to give to my employer to take a few days off to rest. At the end of the examination, she asked if I was pregnant and I said "No". She didn't pursue the issue of my increased girth and I walked out of her office - looking back it is clear I was in a state of denial that anything was wrong.
Three months after this, I reported to work despite feeling fatigued and ridden with back pain but left within an hour after informing my employer that I was going to the hospital.
I went to the emergency room and was there for 12 hours, being poked, prodded, scanned, x-rayed and asked repeatedly if I was pregnant. That part was a bit annoying. Otherwise I can't complain about their care. They fed my mother who was with me and was very worried about me - but no food for me because they wanted to do a CT scan.
I was admitted to hospital that night being told "You are full of something bad." and that a specialist would see me in the morning. I was too hungry to be worried and after the night nurse gave me toast with jam, I fell fast asleep. My mom stayed up all night at home worrying with my dad. The next day, the doctor came and told me he suspected ovarian cancer and two days later they operated removing 15 pounds of mucin, my appendix, my omentum, did a full hysterectomy and sent a tissue sample to the pathology lab. The doctor suspected stage 4 ovarian cancer. After a couple of days of recovery in the hospital, I was sent home to wait.
It was now the beginning of December and it wasn't until the beginning of Febrary that I got a call from the doctor saying that "It's not ovarian cancer, it's cancer but not cancer and we'll need to see you regularly at CancerCare". I said "Ok" and he ended the call.
I sat on the sofa relieved on one hand (no ovarian cancer - yeah!) but bewildered on the other (it's cancer but not cancer - what!?!). So I called him back.
He told me not to worry and he'd answer my questions at our next appointment in 2 weeks. At the appointment he told me "We'll monitor you - the treatment is watch and wait. If it reappears, we'll deal with it."
He never told me the name of my condition and I didn't ask - I can't explain why I didn't except that I hadn't learned to be assertive as I am now! It wasn't until almost 1 year later when another physician was covering for him during his absence that I learned the name of what I had. The covering physician strode in saying "So you're the Pseudomyxoma Peritonei! I'm Dr __".
I asked him to repeat that - he said his name again - and I started laughing. "No, I mean the name of the cancer, and write it down. I need to Google it when I get home." He was much more forthcoming than my regular doctor and so I finally learned what I was dealing with.
There are more stories on our Survivors' Stories page and Deborah's story will be continued in a later post.