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Abbreviations & Acronyms
dx diagnose, diagnosis
FSH follicle-stimulating hormone
IBS irritable bowel syndrome
IVP intravenous pyelogram — study to look at the kidneys and ureters
NED no evidence of disease
s/s signs & symptoms
SLS second-look surgery
TAH / BSO total abdominal hysterectomy / bilateral salpingectomy and oophorectomy — removal of, respectively: uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries
tx treat, treatment
US ultrasound
WAR whole abdominal radiation
   
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Starla Taylor

Submitted on 08/27/2003
Photo of Starla Taylor On January 9, 2002 I was canoeing through the mangroves of the Everglades. We paddled all afternoon trying to reach the Lard Can chickee, a raised platform camping shelter. We didn’t make it. We had started too late in the day and as days turn to night early in January (even in Florida), we elected to be safe and turn back. That evening a vein popped out in my neck. It was concerning and unusual. It didn’t go away. Upon returning to my hometown I went straight to my doctor. He immediately took a chest x-ray. When he returned to the examining room to speak with me, I knew it was something serious. He sat down in front of me and looking me in the eye said he wanted me to see the best pulmonary specialist in town on this same day. As there were no openings in that busy doctor’s calendar, he sent me to the emergency room of the hospital where that doctor worked knowing I would eventually be seen by him. My right lung was filled with so much fluid it was pressing on my pulmonary artery and that is what was bulging from my neck. I had spent the previous week paddling and biking and hiking in Florida Keys and Everglades with the use of only one lung. I had noticed shortness of breath but chalked it up to being almost 50 years old and out-of-shape. How wrong I was!

Subsequent tests showed a mass on my one remaining ovary. Surgery was done by an gyn-oncologist. I was sent home with shots of blood thinner to be self-administered twice a day to dissolve the clots in my spleen and liver. The lab report indicated ovarian cancer. An appointment was made to begin chemotherapy in three weeks. Although life had changed in a day, friends and family (who all live a long distance away) kicked into high gear. People I do not know began praying for me. Cards and calls and food came. A dear friend called and said I should go see this wonderful doctor at Johns Hopkins who specializes in ovarian cancer. Although my husband and I know Johns Hopkins well as he is a patient there and a cancer survivor, I did not have the energy to deal with yet another medical facility. My friend didn’t quit. He went to my husband and told him he had to contact Hopkins for a second opinion. Russ made the call and I was given an appointment within two days with Dr. Rick Montz. In order to be prepared for that visit we had to obtain copies of medical reports and lab slides that were located in 3 different facilities IN ONE DAY. All were provided. All came together so quickly and easily that God had to be opening the doors. Dr. Montz advised a completely different treatment plan. It required lung surgery as soon as possible to prevent further accumulation of fluid in my right lung. He arranged for Dr. Yang, a thoracic surgeon at Hopkins, to do a pleuracentesis. Although lab reports indicate ovarian cancer also in my lung, Dr. Montz suggested “watchful waiting” rather than immediate chemo as MPSC is resistant to chemo. My CA 125 went from 487 prior to initial debulking surgery to a baseline of 21. Three months out it registered at 11; at six months it was 8. CT scans indicated no visible cancer, but the most recent one indicates an accumulation of abdominal fluid. I know the cancer is still there, but I have been given the gift of time. How long I do not know nor do I need to know.

The changes MPSC effected in me are likely not noticeable to those around me – even those who know me well. MPSC has made me a more thoughtful person and has strengthened my faith. I am thankful for the lessons MPSC has taught me. I have met many people I would not have otherwise known. I see caring and love in others that before I overlooked or didn’t trust. This trial has helped me separate what is truly important in this life from those things that are simply pleasant. I always have served others and been quite active in my community, but now I do so with more purpose. I cherish every moment spent with my family and friends.

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