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Nancy Martell's Story
By Don Martell – Husband
Ovarian cancer entered my life via a phone call from my daughter. I was on a trip with my company in Las Vegas when my cell phone rang. My daughter was upset and telling me that mom’s stomach had become large and very hard in just the past two days, and that mom was in a lot of pain. Upon arriving home, to my shock, she wasn’t kidding. My wife’s stomach looked like she was three-months pregnant. Now, let’s stop and rewind more than two years before that phone call.
2003 The Warning Signs:
My wife’s daily activities began changing gradually. She began spending more and more time in the bathroom. She finally broke down and visited her gynecologist. The gynecologist told my wife that she had irritable bowel syndrome. He gave her a prescription for an over-the-counter laxative, and sent her home. Well the laxative did its job for what it was designed for, but the pressure and bloating feeling continued. So back to the gynecologist we went, and he told her to go to get a colonoscopy. Well, she did that, and she was fine. The doctor that did the colonoscopy told my wife that he thought her problem was gynecological-related and sent us back to her gynecologist. This cycle went on for about two years.
The bad news:
When finally diagnosed with ovarian cancer it had already progressed to stage IIIC. If the gynecologist had caught the cancer when we first went in, it would have probably had been stage I. You can find more about the different stages online. In a nutshell, a stage IIIC patient has a 5-year, 30% chance of survival vs. a stage I patient who has a 90% chance of survival.
What you need to do:
Due to the lack of care my wife’s gynecologist provided, I decided that I would review every test result and the decisions that the health professionals made from those tests. Guys, make sure you take the lead on this. You need to be the one reminding your loved one to ask the questions. During the exam, it is difficult for the patient to remember everything. So please be prepared, and make sure you get answers to all your questions. I now attend every exam and come to every appointment with questions on paper.
What to look out for while your healthy:
Ovarian cancer does not have any one specific symptom. It is not something like a cold or flu in which you just wake up and say, “Hey I think I have the flu.” It could be a backache, a cramp or bloating feeling that won’t go away, or even a missed or long period. Make sure you tell your gynecologist about any issues you have below the belly button. If you’re not happy with your answer then get a second opinion.
December 9, 2008:
My wife has gone through debulking surgery, three years of chemo, and a bowel obstruction surgery. There were two times that they did not expect her to make it. She has shown everyone that positive thinking, determination, and angels do what surgery and chemo can’t. Last year we did not have a Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s due to her bowel obstruction. This year, she is feeling much better. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and look forward to a normal Christmas and New Year’s.
Don Martell - Husband of an ovarian cancer survivor
Updates by the Author Below:
I wrote this for my wife. Two weeks ago, we found out that the cancer is now in her liver and lungs. She had chemo last week and again today. We don't know if this will work but we need to try. Donald Martell - 06/17/2009
Well, we received bad news today. Nancy will be coming home with hospice care on Friday or Monday. She is not getting any better, and there is no known procedure to help her. She wants to be home, so that is where she will be. I know all of you want to see her but she is not up to visits, and she does not want to be seen in her present condition. She is still beautiful so I don't understand what she is talking about. Please know that I will do my very best to call all of you with updates. Love ya all.
Don Martell - 06/23/2009
We got Nancy home today after a full week at Crouse Hospital. She sure did smile when we pulled in the driveway. Hospice will be here at 1 p.m. tomorrow. I already picked up the medications so she is covered for pain. All of the medications are working very well. She is very relaxed. She thanks everyone for the kind words and well wishes.
Don Martell - 06/25/2009
Hospice is looking for a pink wheelchair for Nancy. They want her to ride in style. Based on her condition lately, I do not think that she will be able to use it outside the house. When she wakes up, the first thing she wants to do is get out to the mall. Unfortunately, she falls asleep before we can get her dressed. The hospice nurse is great. Nancy is very comfortable with her. Thanks for all the support. It is appreciated.
Don Martell - 06/30/2009