Six years, eight months, 3 weeks and 2 days ago our lives changed forever. My mother, Darla Sharpton, entered the doctors’ office to hear the results of her gall bladder scan. Instead she left with a death sentence.
I was once ignorant to the signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer, however, six years and two days ago my mother of only fifty years was sent home to die with advanced stages of this silent killer. For exactly one week I watched the deterioration of my best friend, my mentor and my loving mother before she passed peacefully the night of August 1, 2004. EOPPC (Extra Ovarian Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma) was her official diagnosis; one of the rarest forms of Ovarian Cancer. This is said because unlike most cases, my mother had undergone a complete hysterectomy (no ovaries at all) 8 years prior to this devastating diagnosis. While Cancer was no stranger to our family, my mother never imagined she’d have to worry with this particular female Cancer given the preventative surgery she had undergone.
Abdominal distension, pressure and fullness, irregular bowels, painful intercourse to name a few are symptoms my mother experienced but honestly dismissed due to her medical history of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and scar tissue from the removal of fibroid tumors. My mother visited her OB/GYN regularly and always left with the satisfaction of knowing everything appeared normal.
Since there is no early detection test for Ovarian Cancer, my mother was not accurately diagnosed until Stage IV. It was described as a non-operable tumor. She would have to endure round after round of painful chemotherapy that diminished her strength but not her spirit. My mother never once complained about the pain although her abdomen filled with fluid (Acites) which they had to constantly drain so she could simply breathe.
My mother was healed when I was only twenty-nine years old, my sister only twenty-four. My mother was not able to attend my wedding or be there for the birth of my only child, her only grandson. This disease is not restricted to the patients themselves – for we as family and friends fight this battle with them each and every day, even when they are gone. Although my four year old son never got to meet my mother, his MiMi, he has already participated in fundraising events to support research for the disease that stole their precious time.
Please remember researchers have shown where this is an inherited disease, so any one of us who have lost family to this killer could potentially be fighting the same battle at any given time. Know your body and ask questions.