At Easter 2010, I felt uneasy, something was wrong but I couldn’t pin anything down. I had just had blood tests for my quickly approaching 40th but nothing had reared its head. Was I drinking too many coke zeros, at one a day? Time to give them up. Was I lactose intolerant, coeliacs? Nothing like self-diagnosis. Suddenly I couldn’t lie on my stomach – there was a fist sized lump. Too busy though to get to the docs.

Pseudomyxoma Survivor Trish shares her storyFinally three months later, in July 2010, I went to the doctor. I got there to be told that my right ovary had become the size of a baby at four kilos. All signs pointed to ovarian cancer. I turned 40 quietly … too many other things to worry about! What did I need to do to look after my six-year-old how long did I have?

My first operation was in August 2010. I lost my omentum, appendix and had a total abdominal hysterectomy (eight kg ovary in the end). We were told I had a lot of mucus and that I would see a Professor who knew about it. Recovery was slowed by MRSA.

My next appointment was with the WA specialist Professor Moroz. We were shocked to hear that I would need this massive operation and that I had missed out on it being done in WA by two months, due to funding, I was now to wait for Sydney. When?

A question we asked many people and finally we were sent to Sydney after three months. Professor Morris told us we were not urgent but would be operated on in three to six months. Ooh, the waiting was cruel. Was I getting worse would this hinder recovery.

At six months (July) and a very grumpy husband – our life was on hold. No information still. Suddenly an email, go and get vaccinations, was it now? Anxiety was high. No, it wasn’t, we were still waiting.

Finally the date, 25th October 2011. After all those months we still felt unprepared. I spoke to my now eight year old, I love you, I will always love you. Be good, be all that you can, listen to your heart and pray because God loves you. I will always be with you even when (if) I go to heaven you only need to talk to me and listen to the words of your heart. That will be me.

We left early on the Sunday morning to catch the plane, almost too much for me to walk out that door away from my son, will I be walking back? The next day hospital preparation and bowel prep to begin at 4 -YUCK but necessary.

5am on the Tuesday the 25th October, wash and then walk to the hospital. I held my husband’s hand so tightly. I was first cab off the rank. I’m not wearing those stupid mesh undies – they are just going to cut them off, I whinge to my husband. We giggle before I hug and kiss him. How can ‘I love you’ say everything? … But it does. I giggle with the doctors tell stupid jokes and then fall asleep on the narrow bed.

Michael was told it would be relatively easy, looked like a quicker surgery. It took longer than expected 10 hours he sees me later than expected I am okay it went well.

I awake groggy in ICU – I was alive, again, grateful and mildly surprised. I can tell you some stories of how morphine messes with your head. Haha, I have cold chemo for five days in HDU. Walking with a plethora of drains and have sponge baths … Interesting! The topics you chat about when a male nurse washes you! Ahh, leave your shame at the door and pick up a large bucket of humour when you go to hospital.

Almost to the ward- no, I now have a perforated stomach and back in to surgery. Back to ICU then HDU. Finally I got to a ward. But now it was PE’s and DVT’s, blood infections and temperatures. When was I going home? Not until my temperature was normal. Plebotomists loved me as they took blood from my feet. Doctors cursed me at 2am in the morning as they attempted cannulas. I was becoming a pin cushion and no one realized I was not eating.

Finally we got to go home after five days in the cancer care house, love Bezzina House. Injections, tablets, walking and sleeping lots. I was home eight weeks after I left. There is no place like home! I begin to eat little by little. Coming back to full strength.

Four months after coming home and six months after the operation. I am working full time although I have realized that it was a mistake and will be working part time next term. I am extremely fortunate to have a husband who supports me very well and has asked that I look after myself more. A Deputy Principal is a very stressful job! I am grateful for every day. I take umpteen tablets and now have a very good relationship with my medical surgery.

Coming up to the six months check up. Worried – a little! But would do it all again – YES for my son, my husband and my family. Thank you to all the amazing doctors and nurses that keep the doctors from killing us – their words not mine. You are angels on earth.

But for the grace of GOD go I? Amen.

– Trish

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