The day that my mom, Jolynn Farley, was told that she had ovarian cancer I went for a walk to clear my head. I walked into the gift shop and a necklace caught my eye. On one side there was a silver dove and the other side had the word “Hope”. My mom and I both wore these necklaces during the 15 month long fight she had with ovarian cancer. These necklaces would help remind her as she was going through her chemo treatments that hope was there for this disease and we would fight her fight together. I would like to share my mom’s story with you to help raise awareness of this silent killer, ovarian cancer.
In January of 2010, my mom started having difficulty breathing and noticed her stomach was quite hard. She was admitted to the hospital with kidney failure. Her creatine was over 8.0. An ultrasound was done of her kidneys and revealed that both ureters were blocked. After a urology consult and ct scan a large ovarian mass was revealed. The gynecological oncologist that she had been referred to did a physical exam and could not palpate the mass, which meant it was quite high/deep/internal. My mom had gone yearly for her pap smear exams and had just been to her regular gynecologist at the end of 2009 and all her test results showed normal. Regular yearly exams don’t usually include an ultrasound. Insurance companies will not pay for this added expense. We aren’t sure how long the ovarian mass was there. After researching this disease when my mom was diagnosed, there were signs and symptoms but she would attribute them to something else. Neither my mom nor I had a lot of knowledge about ovarian cancer and what signs and symptoms to look for. My mom always wondered if she would have had an ultrasound could this have been caught in a much earlier stage?
In February 2010, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer, cell type Squamous Cell. That is when everything in our lives changed forever. Our family spent the next 14 months right by my mother’s side, helping her in every way we could to fight this awful disease.
During the rest of 2010, my mom underwent several kidney stint replacements due to kidney failure caused by the ovarian tumors and had several blood clots in her right leg. The nephrologists and oncologist concur that the blood clots were an effect of the tumor encasing major leg vessels. The gynecologic oncologist did surgery to remove the left ovary but the right ovary couldn’t be removed due to the tumors; it was described as “like concrete” and it was frozen to the right ovary and encasing blood vessels. She also experienced anemia and had to receive blood transfusions.
My mom had 18 weekly chemo treatments and 10 day radiation treatments from April 2010 to September 2010, there was a slight growth and the doctor chose to take a break from treatment. Six weeks later the scan showed significant growth. She had two courses of a different chemo, but not consecutive due to the all the hospitalizations. We had so many hospital stays during these month, one lasted 15 days straight.
In January 2011, my mom started experiencing vomiting severely due to a tumor causing a partial small bowel obstruction. She was hospitalized twice in January for the same thing. Once we got her home, she was put on an all-liquid diet due to her not being able to keep any food down.
On February 18, 2011, my mom was sent home with hospice care by the oncologist and could not receive any more chemo treatments. My mom continued on an all-liquid diet during her hospice care, a total of 69 days with no solid food. All the hospice care nurses were amazed that she had been without food for that length of time. We had many friends and family who helped us take care of my mom during this time. My mom passed away on April 23, 2011. On this day, I gave my mom my hope necklace and I have hers. I keep her necklace with me daily, to remind myself of the “HOPE”.
My mom and I had many talks about her illness and the one thing she made me promise was for me to involve myself in spreading the word of awareness for ovarian cancer and continue to “Fight her Fight”. She wanted me to share her story to help other women understand how important it is to pay attention to all the warning signs of this disease. The strength that my mom showed during her fight with ovarian cancer was amazing. Her favorite quote was, “I’m fine” whenever you asked her how she was doing. She would have a smile on her face as you can see in her photo above, wearing her hope necklace.
Thank you for everything your organization is doing to get the information out to all women and their families about ovarian cancer.