I was diagnosed with choriocarcinoma 2 months after the birth of my little girl. I knew something was wrong about 2 weeks after she was born. I had stopped bleeding and then started again, but this time very heavy. I mean VERY heavy! I would sit on the toilet for an hour or more a couple of times a day. My poor husband would clean my pants out and clean the bathroom floor almost every day. I called my doctor a couple of times, but they brushed me off, saying, “Oh honey, everyone bleeds after they have a baby.”
The bleeding continued for 2 months. I could barely walk up the stairs or hold my baby girl. I finally called and said, “This is not normal! I am a nurse and know how much I should be bleeding; somebody better do something. I can’t even walk up the stairs.” They told me to go to the emergency room right away. At the emergency room I had an ultrasound, which indicated that I had “retained placenta” parts in my uterus about the size of a tennis ball. I underwent an D&C and received two units of blood before they would let me go home. My blood levels were so low they couldn’t understand how I was able to stand. My blood pressure dropped every time I stood up.
After being released from the emergency room I thought everything was fine, and I didn’t have a care in the world. I felt so good and full of energy. I went back to work at the hospital for a night, and when I got home the next morning my husband said the doctor’s office had called. He told me that we had an appointment with the doctor at noon and he was to come with me! A big red flag went up. They had taught us that in nursing school—always have a family member present to drive the patient home when you have catastrophic news. I immediately told him I have CANCER. We went for our meeting, which only confirmed my suspicions. We then drove straight to the oncologist. My BhCG level was 275,000, and MRI and CT scans determined that it had spread to all of my reproductive organs and to my right lung. I had a groshong placed and started the chemotherapy regimen of EMACO (etoposide, methotrexate, actinomycin D, cyclophosphamide, oncovin). I received two chemotherapeutic agents twice a week; one of which consisted of a 12-hour infusion at home.
My only complication during my treatment was becoming septic (bacteria in my blood) from being neutrapenic. I spent 11 days in the hospital and 3 nights in the intensive care unit. I truly thought that I was going to die. My temperature was 105.0°, and they tried everything to get it to go down. My chemotherapy lasted for 3 months, and then, just like that, I was CANCER FREE. My life was back to “normal.”—as normal as it could be. I will never be the same person as before being diagnosed. Who truly can be? Like everyone else, I worry about it coming back and sometimes get a little depressed seeing all of my friends with a couple of kids and going on with their lives with no care in the world. I am so happy to be alive, and I really live my days to their fullest. Getting my hair back to normal is like being reborn. I feel like my old self just looking through a different window into life.
Hang in there and be strong.