There was a big concern that I was going to be in serious trouble, because the tumour had ruptured, the fluid from it came out as the aforementioned green discharge, which would have left cancerous cells to float all over the place. And they were concerned to try and preserve my fertility. I had lost my left ovary in the first surgery. It was surrounded by a sort of grapefruit sized tumour that I never felt. All the time I travelled I felt a bit of a fullness in my tummy, but I just thought it was from travelling or whatever, but I never had any sense of having had that disease. In order to try and preserve my fertility in my right ovary, they gave me a low dose of chemotherapy. I think it was Taxol.
For about thirteen months following the surgery I was okay and I was having regular exams, first monthly, then quarterly. But then I had one and I could feel I wasn’t okay. The bottom line was that I had a new tumour on my right ovary. We know now that the low dose of chemotherapy probably wouldn’t have worked anyway because my tumour, which was called a borderline ovarian cystadenoid carcinoma, doesn’t respond very well to chemo. So that’s when I had to have quite a radical hysterectomy. Almost anything I didn’t need to survive was taken out.
So I had that surgery. And at the end of the operation they did saline washes, so they told me, and found that there were no cancerous cells left anywhere. So they sewed me up, and the decision was not to give me any further therapy and just watch, and I went for 23 years, with no recurrence.
The gynaecological oncologist I saw at a local private hospital, after carrying out a few tests, felt my case was outside of his remit, and recommended that I saw a fellow named [surgeon] who to me is one of the finest surgeons that this country has to offer and a true gentleman and just one of best human beings that I’ve ever met. I remember going to see him and he did an internal exam and asked a lot of questions and said, “Well if this is operable. . .” Before he could finish his sentence, I said, “What do you mean if?” and he said, “Well it may not be.” He confirmed that I had a very large tumour in my groin and said until he saw pictures, he didn’t know what the story was, but he felt that I was seriously compromised by it.
Anyway I went in for the surgery and it was successful insofar as they could debulk the tumour but they couldn’t remove it all. They couldn’t get a wide margin, which I guess most people will understand, but some people wouldn’t. When you remove a tumour you want a margin of healthy tissue around it, and when they take out the tumour, they ink it and then they see how close to the margins the disease is. The reason they put the ink on is because no matter how amorphous the material is they can always know where the edges were. And where last time they got quite a wide margin, on this particular surgery they didn’t and that wasn’t such good news.
So then the big decision was what do we do now, and what am I candidate for? And what we had established was that I wasn’t a candidate for any kind of radiation either proton or photon. One is more scattered and one is more focused. And where I was definitely not a candidate for the standard scattered type, the more focused one was a possibility but they don’t offer it in the UK other than for eye and brain cancer, but they do offer it in the US.
So my stuff was sent off to the boys at Harvard to see if I was a candidate but I’m not because the tumour is very deep and it’s located near my vena cava and my spine. So, there’s no way surgically to get a big margin and if they shot radiation at that area it would