Monday, September 15, 2014

"My Trifecta" - Joanie's Story


How did I end up at 44 diagnosed with stage IV ovarian, peritoneal, endometrial cancers: all primary, what I call a trifecta?

I had debulking surgery followed by continual chemotherapy and now 4 years later I have tried 21 different chemo protocol combos to keep the cancer stable. My message to you is simple, listen to your body. In 2009, I had heavy periods, family history of ovarian cancer, general gastro issues and most were explained with irritable bowel or perimenopause. I was the healthiest I had ever been. In December of 2009, I had a mammogram which showed enlarged axillary lymph nodes. This doctor felt a biopsy was necessary. The nodes came back as reactive. I questioned, reactive to what? More visits to the gynecologist who failed to do a transvaginal ultrasound and a ca125 blood test even though I had a family history of ovarian cancer. I insisted something was not quite right. Finally, my internist heard me and ordered a PET scan for “peace of mind”. Unfortunately, this was not the case and the radiologist mis-read my scan as lung cancer. I met with a thoracic surgeon who explained the surgery which included cracking my ribs etc…but said that if I was his wife, he would be more concerned with the pelvic area and recommended I see a gynecological oncologist/surgeon. It was now March 2010 and I met with numerous surgeons and ended up having my surgery at UCLA where I am now treated.

I cannot say I would have or should have done anything different.

My situation is what it is. My chronic condition of living with cancer is something that I have accepted, but not quietly. How have I continued for 4 years on chemo? I have a great support system of family and friends. I have a wonderful husband and a 12 year old son who motivate me every day to stay strong. I refuse to give up.

My philosophy is find the sunshine in every day and NEGU (never ever give up) #NEGU.

I have continued to have an amazing quality of life with some ups and downs. I have had chemo in Waikiki, went on a cruise to Greece with hand and foot syndrome caused by Doxil, and went on a cruise to the Caribbean, plus numerous other vacations with my family.
I encourage you to spread the word about gynecological cancers. Listen to your body and know the symptoms. They appear as whispers, but turn into screams. Don’t ignore the signs!
- Joanie Triestman

Read more about Joanie’s story:

Thank you Joanie for sharing your story and advice with all of us. 

#gyncsm co-moderator

Read another survivor story: Tina, ovarian cancer survivor

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