[updated July 5, 2011]
Today I got a little emotional at my annual checkup.
Come with me on the way-back machine to August 9, 2001, when severe abdominal pain sent me to the emergency room: “Everything Changed,” originally published in The Kansas City Star in 2002.
On call that night about ten years ago was Dr. Steve E. Buie, my family practice physician since 1988. He ordered a physical exam, CA-125 blood test, Xray, ultrasound and CT scan.
Two days later, Dr. Buie came into my hospital room and announced, “We think you have ovarian cancer.” (Some women with identical symptoms — bloating, gas pain — go undiagnosed for months or even years. Meanwhile, the cancer advances.)
Dr. Buie insisted I see a gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Verda Hunter. One month after my visit to the emergency room, Dr. Hunter — whom I also credit with saving my life — performed the surgery. My tumor was the size of a small grapefruit, and my cell type was the most aggressive of 30+ kinds of ovarian cancer.
Do you feel lucky? Do ya??? I did not. I planned a funeral.
Dr. Hunter started treatment within days of my surgery. My enrollment in a clinical trial meant I got three chemotherapy drugs instead of the standard two.
Chemo ended in February of 2002. On September 12, 2011 — pending results of blood tests — I will celebrate ten years surviving stage III ovarian cancer. In February, I will celebrate ten years of remission.
Nine summers, going on ten. Some fortuitous day, Steve Buie decided to become a doctor. I thank him, and Dr. Hunter, for my life.
Update: All tests normal.