Last updated: February 2023
How it all started
In September 1999 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was just getting ready to turn the big 40. My tumor was the size of a golf ball on my right breast and just a hair away from attaching to my ribs.
My treatment was a radical right mastectomy with no reconstruction. I endured 2 rounds of chemo and then intense radiation. The treatment seemed worse than the disease. I was told that I was cancer-free, and to keep up on my regular check-ups. Have a good life.
Fast forward to 2018. For almost a year I had been experiencing what I thought was either something with my heart or some horrible heartburn. My doctor found nothing. Had gone to a hospital they found nothing wrong with my heart. I was sent home. I knew something was wrong. I told my doctor. Forward to February 2018. I'm at work and again I'm feeling massive heartburn. I go to Urgent Care and they suggest that I go to the ER. I go.
Something felt wrong
I spend 8 hrs in the ER waiting to get a diagnosis. I'm given a shot of morphine for the pain which by now is unbearable. Meds wear off and I'm now growing impatient. I tell the nurse I can't stay any longer and that I need to leave. He informs me it would be against hospital rules but by now I was going to leave. The nurse gave me discharge papers and made me promise that I would call the doctor on my papers first thing in the morning. I left knowing something was terribly wrong.
Finally a diagnosis
As promised, I called the doctor. I was given an immediate appt. I arrived with my partner to hear the news. I was told I had Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Surgery immediately was the answer, but because of my weight, I wouldn't survive the surgery. I was told I would live perhaps a year maybe longer and maybe less.
Treatment and surgery
Instead, I began intense chemo. I lost even more weight down to 84 lbs. At one point hospice was suggested as they didn't think I would make it to the end of that round. I did. Next was another round of chemo and then the surgery to remove the mass. The surgery went well but a lot of parts were removed. I had total hysteria, they removed my gallbladder, appendix and took pieces of my kidney liver and lung. Anything that showed cancer they removed. My surgeon was elated. He was sure he got everything.
After the surgery, I was back in the last round of chemo. My blood work still showed cancer tags. I was put on a treatment of a Votrient that was an oral form of chemo. I had some nasty side effects and I wasn't reacting well.
I tried an immunotherapy drug. Shots in the butt once a month. Still not working. I'm down to the last treatment possible for me. Now it's back to chemo along with a clinical trial. I had my first chemo at the beginning of the month and my trial drugs and got back my first bit of good news. My tumor tags have come down. I seem to be responding well to this treatment. I am by no means out of the woods but I have some hope again.
I never knew that this would happen to me. I just turned 60 this year. I was just turning 40 the first time. 20 years had gone by. I was led to believe that 20 was the magic number. That 20 years clear meant I would be safe from cancer, and now here I am.
My name is Ursela. I'm 60yrs old and I love living. I have hope. I get scared. I have constant pain. I'm a mom to my son. I am strong. I still have a life and I want to live. I want to help anyone that I'm able to. I AM THE STORM!
This is my story.
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