I’ll begin this post by saying that it’s been a long time since I have blogged about ANYTHING! Normally I wouldn’t use this blog to tell more personal stories, but in an effort to raise awareness and do some fundraising, I’ll make an exception. This is my journey, thus far, with Gestational Trophoblastic Disease.
Since the birth of our son, in 2005 my husband and I have been trying for another child with no success and numerous and complicated losses (which I won’t go into here – they are just as complicated as the story I am about to tell you!). Finally after having trouble and considering fertility treatments, we got the news that we were pregnant literally days after we moved to a wonderful new home. We were going to have a baby!! We were over the moon, and still at the same time a little cautious due to our previous experiences. Due to my medical history we were sent for early ultrasounds – at 6 and 8 weeks along. Due to the holidays I didn’t hear from the doctor with my results until January 5th.
It was a phone call I’d never forget. She said that she had scheduled me for an appointment over at the hospital the next morning – she suspected that I had a Molar Pregnancy. Up until that moment, I had never heard of it and had no idea what on earth that meant. I went to the hospital to have some more tests done. Another ultrasound and bloodwork confirmed that I had a complete molar pregnancy. They found a large, rapidly expanding growth and my hormone levels were over 500,000 (so high that they had to do a manual count). The doctor explained that instead of a baby, essentially there was a grape like tumor in my expanding uterus. One sperm fertilizes an empty egg, and begins to replicate with only male genes – no female genes. The body thinks you are pregnant, you have all the symptoms, some of which are amplified due to the fast growing invasive tumor. I had a D&C that afternoon to remove the mole.
After weeks of recovery and weekly bloodwork to follow up on my progress my doctor referred me to the oncology department at Sunnybrook. The tumor was persistent. At this point the molar pregnancy is considered a rare but highly curable cancer called Gestational Trophoblastic Disease. I became part of a clinical study to test the effectiveness of a second surgery to remove the tumor instead of proceeding directly to the alternative – chemotherapy.
The next day (Feb 19th), I had my second D&C. Again, I was to complete weekly bloodwork to measure the bHcg hormones to see if my levels were declining, meaning that the tumor is shrinking. The following week, I received a call that my numbers were negative! Success. I was elated. I still needed to do weekly bloodwork for the next 6 months to make sure there was no regrowth. The following week, still negative!
I went to my follow up appointment with the oncologist one month after my 2nd surgery. He came in with some very shocking news – the lab (an external one, not the one at the hospital) had been performing the WRONG blood test – my negative results were false. I ran over to have more blood drawn at their lab and went home. The next day, I got a call from my wonderful clinical nurse, Violet. Another call that I will never forget – I had to go back down to Sunnybrook for further tests (including another ultrasound and chest xray – to make sure it hadn’t spread). My hormone levels had doubled since the last surgery. I was to start chemotherapy the very next day. I will require at least 8 weeks of treatment (or until my levels reach negative, with one preventative treatment after that). I have since found out that the reason the surgeries were unsucessful - the tumour has migrated from my uterus into the muscle of my abdomen. Treatment will remain the same, so far!
My cancer is 100% curable – thank God, but the journey will be tough. Walking through the halls of the chemotherapy clinic really puts EVERYTHING in perspective. I am one of the lucky ones, and I will not take that fact for granted. It has been a very long 4 months with a long road ahead of us but I know we'll get through it!
For further information on Molar pregnancy, GTD and cancer support, please visit the following websites:
I have started a humble fundraising campaign through my Etsy shop, visit doeStudio and look for items marked FUNDRAISER. You can also sponsor my fundraising efforts by pledging me for the RELAY FOR LIFE benefits to the Canadian Cancer Society...click HERE for my personal page!
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer you based on my experience. I am hoping that anyone that comes across this page will find some of the information helpful, as I found it really difficult to find resources in the early days of my online searching.