My wife has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer

This is not the news that we had wanted but had been half suspecting when all the scans and other tests had indicated malignancy but unfortunately the biopsy had confirmed ovarian cancer following the MDT consultation this afternoon. However, I have to say that it was something that I had suspected all along when she had first had the cancer alert back at the end of January but there is some hope and optimism that can come out of this where the psyching up for preparation for this has regrettably come to fruition.

The first one is that finally at last that things are moving forward where she is meeting an oncologist at the end of this week to discuss a treatment plan which would commence in about 3 weeks’ time. We were also told that the type of cancer that she has got responds well to treatment and should kill and shrink the tumours.

We have been told that she will need chemotherapy which will be done in 3 cycles (each being a 3 week period) having 2 drugs intravenously given over a 5 hour period and then the following week of the other drugs and then the other a week later before the cycle continues.

She has also been told that after the first 3 rounds of chemotherapy that she will have another CT scan to check for the shrinkage of the tumours and to plan the necessary de-baulking surgery that she will need. Additionally, she has also been told that she would need to have both a hysterectomy and oophorectomy before undertaking a further 3 rounds of chemotherapy to get rid of any remnants of cancer cells.following a likely 6 week recovery period after the operation.

I have got my fingers crossed and also touching wood that she should be clear of the cancer by the end of the summer and hope that our lives can get back to normal again. It is going to be a tough road ahead in the next few months but it looks like our local NHS trust can give her the treatment that she needs very soon.

That is all I can say at the moment but the uncertainty about the speculation of what it was is now behind us and we can of course focus on the treatment and her long recovery from this.

  • Hello cjb2

    I'm so sorry to hear about your wife's diagnosis. It's obviously been a difficult time for you both and natural that you may be experiencing a whole range of emotions at the moment. 

    I hope that the appointment with the oncologist brought some reassurance about the next steps in her proposed treatment plan. Don't be afraid to contact the clinical nurse specialist if you or your wife have any questions or concerns about her treatment over the coming weeks. 

    From your post it sounds as if you're taking a very positive approach to the planned treatment over the coming months and undoubtedly this will stand you both in good stead. It sounds as if your wife will be well supported and it's good that you're both looking forward to the future. 

    I'm going to tag in  my reply here. Whilst his wife underwent treatment for breast cancer, I know from his posts how involved he was with her care and what a great support he's been to others here on the forum supporting loved ones. Hopefully, he will pop along to introduce himself but you can also read through some of their journey in his previous posts. 

    If you'd like to talk with one of our nurses at any point you're welcome to call them on 0808 800 4040, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. I know they will be happy to offer any advice, information, and support they can. 

    Keep in touch cjb2 and let us know how you're both getting on. We're here to listen and will do our best to support you over the coming weeks and months. 

    Sending my best wishes to you both, 
    Cancer Chat moderator 

  • We had seen the oncologist this morning and his nursing team this morning and he did seem to be fairly confident that the treatment that my wife will receive which looks likes starting in a couple of weeks with chemotherapy before Easter and in the week after Easter. She is going to receive three different chemotherapy drugs where the first one is Paclitaxol (this one stops the nucleus of the cancer cells from dividing and forming new cancer cells aka Taxol), Carboplatin (which does something to damage the DNA of the cancer cells) and Avaston (aka Bevacizumab) which is a maintenance drug that restricts the blood flow to stop new cancer clusters from developing). The cancer type was confirmed from the biopsy as being high grade serous carcinoma which appears to be the most common type of ovarian cancer.

    She is going to receive three cycles (each being three weeks) with all three in the first week and the following two weeks receiving doses of Taxol before the cycle repeats again. She is also going to have another MRI scan to check that it has not gone into her liver but when I had questioned the doctor over this, he had confirmed that if it had then the chemotherapy would also attack and kill the cancer cells here as well.

    After that, she will be assessed for surgery which would involve the debulking (removal of the dead cancer cells) and oophorectomy and hysterectomy. After the recovery period, there is a further 3 cycles of the chemotherapy treatment again.

    My wife had also been advised that she would continue to receive Avaston for up to a year as a means to restrict or even stop new cancer clusters from forming.

    When the treatment starts, she has been advised to wear the cold cap which may reduce hair loss as it reduces the blood flow to the scalp and hence the chemo therapy does not also act on the hair cells which also multiply rapidly. I have also urged her to get a wig if she feels uncomfortable about hair loss which she is now doing.

    She will also be tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes to see if there is a family history where she had a blood test today and also her blood count where they check the platelet levels as well as the white and red cell count.

    Although my wife is coming to terms with being told that she has ovarian cancer and it is a shock to her given that she has lived a healthy lifestyle through her life, I have reassured her that she needs to let the cancer treatment specialists do what they need to do and at least put this into remission or even cure her entirely. It is a long road ahead for her but I am quietly optimistic that she will come out the other side of this as well later this year.

  • Hiya, just seen i was tagged in this post, but I was busy for a few days and missed it. So apologies.

    Where to begin ...

    It's difficult not to be disheartened at the beginning. You come into this journey not really knowing what to expect, what to do, which things to say to your partner and so on. It can become a pit of despair early on. As far as understanding your partner, the best piece of advice i learned along the way was, just to listen to her. Don't try to be superman. I tried to do everything for her. I felt hopeless. Eventually, i began to annoy her, and truth be told, i was annoying myself. I sank into a pit of despair, because i felt hopeless being in what seemed like a hopeless situation. You will never be able to control the situation, so don't waste much emotional energy trying to control something you can't. What you can control is being there for her when you need to be there for her. By that, i mean listening to her. If she needs chummed to an appointment, tag along with her, if she just needs a good cry or to vent, just be that person she can rely on to be that person.

    My wife's initial diagnosis was pretty grim insofar as "good" diagnoses went. She was literally worst case scenario as far as stage 3 went. The tumours were large as far as breast cancer is concerned, and it was in her lymphs. Add to that, it was aggressive as aggressive could be. Like i alluded to above, inwardly, i felt disheartened and began sinking that bit deeper into that pit. I began to compensate by becoming overbearing. I was acting like i was some sort of super hero.

    You're at this weird point. You have the diagnosis, and know what you're dealing with. But you as the carer now have this time on your hands to sit and overthink stuff. That "stuff" is usually to do with things the doctors don't even know. You'll be overthinking everything. try not to do that. Go for walks so you can at least attempt to put things in perspective for 10 mins. That's 10 mins of you feeling like you that you won't get sitting in the house.

    Anyway, the thing i learned the most about cancer, cancer is a fluid thing. What you think you know today isn't what you will know tomorrow. It works both way. What is overbearing or seems like bad news today, can become something you take comfort in tomorrow. My wife was initially down for a full mastectomy, then tomorrow happened and she had achieved a full response to the chemotherapy, and everything was downgraded. She ended up getting a lumpectomy, and she's been cancer free for 2 or so years now. The odds she received of it returning during the first two years were initially very high. But after her treatment, they went down to being miniscule. This is why i can't overemphasise the need to look at a cancer diagnosis as anything but it being a fluid type of illness. What you think you know today, isn't what you may think tomorrow.

    I wish you and your wife all the best. Always remember, the part you will play in this is every bit as important as her part in this story. so look after yourself too. You need her, she needs you.

  • Offline in reply to ProfBaw

    Thanks for this ProfBaw.

    There have been some days where I had felt desperate and this was down to the uncertainty of not knowing and waiting around but the one thing that I dio know that is my wife will now be able to start the first round of her chemotherapy next Tuesday on 26th March and will continue to have treatment as to whether it is chemotherapy or debaulking surgery for the next 6 months or so. It may be fortunate (unfortunate that she has got cancer at all) that she has the most common type of ovarian type of ovarian cancer but she has been told by her oncologist that this type is treatble with 3 different chemotherapy drugs that will have a 3 pronged attack on the cancer. The fact that she had got stage 3 was advised by the doctor that this is used to determine her treatment programme.

    Although it is a relieft that the treatment is starting, it does bring in new unertainities but I think that I will be able to deal with this myself given that I have more factual information about the treatment and what to look out for but my wife is also relieved in one way but still suffering from a level anxiety not so much about the cancer but waiting for the treatment to start. Despite the tough road ahead in the short term, I hope to look back on this at the back end of this year and say that between us that we had both got through this together.

  • Offline in reply to cjb2

    Hi, mate. Bear in mind, my wife had breast cancer, and your wife is dealing with OC. Thus, her chemo might have differing effects. Things we wished we knew beforehand.

    1)Chemo tends to be accumulative in nature. Meaning the first 1-3 cycles might give you a false sense of security as far as side effects go. My wife thought her first chemos were a breeze, but gradually felt more of an impact as treatments wore on. 

    2) A misconception a lot of people have is to do with sleeping habits. We went into this thinking people with cancer slept a lot. My wife suffered awful insomnia. This is mainly caused by hormone treatments and steroids 

    3) About steroids. Your wife may undergo a personality change for a day or 3 each cycle. Steroids made my wife very argumentative. We argued a lot. Long walks became my best friend. 

    4) Do her a favour and either buy a soft toothbrush or a bona fide baby toothbrush beforehand. Don't be like me that had to go to Tesco at ridiculous o'clock during the night to get one. Chemo can affect the oral cavity badly. Should any gum or other oral issues arise, get them seen to pronto. Those can stop people from eating and drinking. 

    5) Lastly. The best thing you can purchase for your wife is a digital in-ear thermometer. Those things can literally save a life. Saved my wife more than twice. Got to watch carefully for infections. Funnily, she grew to despise the thing, but she will be the first to admit it saved her on more than one occasion.

    As far as the worrying goes, your wife will begin to worry less as the treatment begins because she'll become focused on that. Whereas, you may still worry because you'll still have all this time to sit and think.

  • Offline in reply to cjb2

    It has not been confirmed that my wife will start her treatment next Tuesday (26.03.24) where she is having all three drus to get the remission process started and then having Taxol for the next couple of weeks before having a rest week. After that 4 weeks later, she starts round 2 of the chemotherapy. In terms of her general wellness, she is carrying on as normal as possible and distracting her mind and trying to not think about it. Given that it is just my wife and mysef living at home at the moment, I have converted the lounge into a recovery ward (as I do not want her going up and down the stairs especially after she has the debulking surgery) where she has got a decent size comfortable double bed, audio and visual system for DVD's and somehwere to have her meals. She also has a view out onto the garden on a South facing window which she would not get in a hospotal ward

    Although she has got a lot of anxiety about the treatment and the side effects of the chemotherapy, I am keeping on reminidng her that the treatment will get rid of the cancer and she can go back to her normal life again. I think that she is also trying to sort out a wig as well just in case that does have to go through that mental trauma of losing her hair and she is also having plenty of foods that have high levels of antioxidants such as fruit and vegetables as well as proteins as a means of being a fourth chemotherapy drug to fight cancer. She has also said that after the Princess of Wales had gone public about her health that she had got some reassurance especially after she had said that it is not something that anyone with cancer should fear

  • Offline in reply to cjb2

    My wife had her first lot of chemotherapy last week where she had the Avastin, Carboplatin and Taxol where she had managed to keep on the cold cap when she had the latter. She is due to have another dose of Taxol tomorrow but not the others which is the one that kills the cancer that has already formed by stopping it dividing and forming new cells.

    There have been some minor side effects where she had a bit of nausea a few days ago but that has now eased and the oncology department had said that was mainly due to the Carboplatin. She has so far not had any hair loss yet

    I suppose that one positive sign that she has said is that the bloating has seemed to had eased since she had the chmeotherapy but does also do a lot of sleeping and has mentioned about her feet being a but numb. The oncology deparment has suggested that she walks about a bit more.

    She also had another MRI scan last week where the doctor was not sure about one of the tumours on the surface of the liver. However, the same doctor did say that the chemotherapy will kill all the cancer cells present wherever it has spread.

    I think that she is more anxious about the treatment rather than the cancer itself especially the debulking surgery and removal of the affacted organs but have reassured her that this is the major part of the treatment that will remove the dead cancer cells from inside of her abdomen.

  • Offline in reply to cjb2

    It has been several months since I had last posted any updates and a lot has happened in that time where it has been mostly good news.

    She has been received since the end of month 18 weekly cycles of the two chemotherapy drugs, Paclitaxol (this stops the existing cancer cells from dividing), Carboplatin on a 3 weekly cycles (this damages the DNA of the cancer to prevent new cancers from forming and Avastin (Bevacizumab) which is an immunotherapy drug that stops blood vessels forming on new cancer cells and hence these die off. The bloating and the abdominal pains had stopped altogether after about a month of chemotherapy had started. She had used the cold cap and has kept about 95% of her hair on her scalp. There has not been any weight loss and this has remained largely stable during the cancer treatment. Her CA125 levels had been recorded at 88 at the end of January, had climbed to 256 by the end of March and the most recent at the end of last week has indicated that it had dropped to 11 (well below the 35 level that would indicate that cancer is present in menopausal women). The CT scan and the MRI scan after two 3 weekly rounds of chemotherapy had shrunk all the tumours in the peritoneal by approximately 40%. Her gynaecological specialist had advised that the ascites have seemed to had disappeared (where he had said that there did not appear to be any fluid present) and the cancer has not mutated so her original treatment plan has not changed. The liver and kidney function through weekly blood tests is within the required limits to allow treatment to continue. She also had a lesion on the surface of her liver which has seemed to have disappeared following the chemotherapy and a couple of minute granules in the liver which have been dissolved by the treatment. It appears that although diagnosed with stage 3C that the cancer has not got into the lymph system and was contained in the abdomen. She is also able to do the local weekly park run where she walks about 2.5 miles. She has also had a diet of blueberries (which have a lot of anti-cancer ingredients in them) as well as nuts and the 5 fruit and vegetables per day.

    However, it has not been without its problems where these have namely been:-

    She has a PICC line fitted where she has got used to this now. She has been suffering from extreme anxiety about the diagnosis and sometimes struggles to comprehend why she had got the cancer in the first place. Since this has happened, she has been put on anti-depressant drugs which have made her feel nauseous at time but has been told to take the anti-sickness tablets. The Carboplatin has also caused its own problems where she has been nauseous about 2-3 days after receiving this. She has also had some tingling in her feet but this normally resolved itself where she had been wearing heating socks to increase circulation. The MDT has advised that she has needed to have all 6 rounds of chemotherapy before being considered for de-baulking surgery. She will continue to have Avastin for up to 12 months. She has also been advised that she will need to take a PARP inhibitor for up to 10 years (possibly Niraparib) We still do not know if it is related to the BRCA 1 or 2 gene which would determine her treatment programme in the future although she has been tested for this.

    Overall, the treatment appears to be going well and her gynaecological specialists appears to be confident that she can put this ordeal behind her very soon although a complete cure could be a possibility. However, she knows that she will have to remain on preventative treatment after the main part is complete for the foreseeable future and this is all down to the McMillan Cancer Centre who has managed to reverse her condition. She stills suffers from anxiety but when she is in this state then she just needs to read the list of notes that her doctor had told her where the treatment is working and looking like she will make a full recovery. The doctor does remind her that she is still at the long treatment process over several years to at least control the ovarian cancer and even totally eradicate it.