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Mother in law diagnosed with ovarian cancer

emilyjaycosta profile image

Hello all -

Hoping I could get some encouraging support about my mother in laws recent diagnosis of ovarian cancer. She was officially diagnosed yesterday....they did not give a stage, but said her tumor marker number is in the 400s, upon pelvic exam could feel several tumors, and she has ascites and severe back pain. My family and I are devastated by this news but also trying to be optimistic. She will have surgery this coming week. He explained she will be in ICU for a few days then the hospital for 7-10. He will remove whatever cancer he can. He fears it has spread to the intestinal tract and said she may have to have some of it removed, and worst case, a bag for the remainder of her life. She will have a CT before surgery to make sure it hasn’t spread to the lungs. She will also have at least 18 weeks of chemo. This has all been so much for us to take in but I was hoping to find some encouraging stories. Any support and advice on how to move forward/ how be there for her would be appreciated...what to say and what not to say to her etc.

12 Replies

The beginning is a rough place, I am only 5

Months ahead of you with my mom. All I can say is be your mother in laws advocate. Read anything you can, and this site is super helpful. I wouldn’t have made it the past 5 months without it. Best of luck

My CA 125 was 700 before surgery and I had stage 1 ovarian and uterine cancer. The mass was the size of a basketball. And something ruptured in my abdomen. I had 6 rounds of taxol and carboplatin from February 11th - June 16th in 2016. I have been cancer free since then. The best thing you can do is just be there. You do not even need to say anything. Your presence is what matters. Love and prayers will get her through this journey.

emilyjaycosta profile image
emilyjaycosta in reply to kaki54

Thank you for this encouraging message. ♥️ that is amazing to hear

kaki54 profile image
kaki54 in reply to emilyjaycosta

Please keep us informed. Let us know what you need too. Love and prayers for all.

emilyjaycosta profile image
emilyjaycosta in reply to kaki54

Thank you so much. I haven’t eaten or slept in almost 4 days (since the diagnosis). She is finally acting more like herself today so I am feeling a little less anxious. She isn’t ready to go to the hospital. I keep encouraging her if she doesn’t stop vomiting. She is able to drink water and pee so I guess that’s something. She has her surgery scheduled for May 20. I plan to be there everyday for her. I keep reminding her we’re in this together and to fight for her grand babies. I just hope it’s working and enough.

kaki54 profile image
kaki54 in reply to emilyjaycosta

Just remember to take each day as it comes. Believe for the best. God will send people into your life to help you along this journey. You and your family are not alone. Let us know if you need prayer or just need to vent.

So very sorry to hear that your MIL is having to face this is very frightening, especially at the beginning, and it is easy to get lost in all the information, statistics, treatment options/impacts, etc. It's also a disease that affects not only the woman who is diagnosed, but one that impacts the entire circle of family and friends. You will hear from women who are in similar situations, get helpful tips and advice, and be able to ask questions about anything without fear or judgement. Please take advantage of the generosity of the women on this forum as you and your family go forward.

Much about what happens next will be determined after her surgery. They will be able to tell you Stage and Grade and also determine what treatment is next. She will likely have her surgery, then be recommended for chemotherapy. What happens thereafter will be contingent on her response and on how she responds to chemo. Without knowing more about her and her disease, it's difficult to talk about what comes thereafter.

Having a reliable and supportive partner or family will make a world of difference. She will likely need help with the little things (housekeeping, grocery shopping, getting to and from appointments, etc.) after surgery and during chemo. It is helpful to have someone attend appointments (as info can be a bit overwhelming and/or our "uptake" of such can be difficult when you are still raw after hearing the diagnosis) She will also need an empathetic and compassionate friend with whom she can share her feelings freely (we all hold back in front of family and even some friends as we worry about their feelings or their ability to deal with the possible outcomes. None of us wants to make it hard for those we love and nor do any of us want to be a we say we're fine when we're not, etc,).

Mostly, for now, she needs to have as much information as she feels necessary (no more) to make decisions comfortably. She needs to know that this disease is not the same for everyone - some with late stage diagnoses go on to live healthy and happy lives for decades - and that statistics can be misleading. Her future success will depend a great deal on her attitude, her desire to go forward, her sense of belonging, etc. Ask her what she needs/wants frequently and expect her answers to change as her needs change with various treatments, tests, etc.

Mostly, she needs to know she is loved, that there is hope, that there are many of us who have walked through the fire and have come out stronger, more powerful and more enthusiastic than ever. It is possible to "have cancer" and live well and contentedly for many years to come.

She needs to know that YOU are there for her, and that we are here for you both.

Stay hopeful, be optimistic and please keep us informed about how you all are doing.

emilyjaycosta profile image
emilyjaycosta in reply to

Thank you for all your kind words and information. She does not seem in a good place at this time, both mentally and physically. I am trying to do the best to be there. I have 2 small babies and need to be there for them as well so it’s going to be an adjustment navigating both. But we will figure it out. Everyone is processing this horrible news. But I can’t help but feel an urgency, with her current physical state, that she needs this operation sooner rather than later. It is all very scary. I am trying to be hopeful but it has been very hard watching her like this. Thank you again.

It's a good thing they are operating right away. Be sure that the surgeon is a Gynecologic Oncologist, not just a gynecology surgeon, or general surgeon. You need someone who has done these operations many, many times. The shock of hearing this kind of news is incredibly startling and frightening in the beginning. But once she gets her staging and game plan, she may feel much more empowered and ready to fight.

Also, it's important to know that, in many cases, we can live many years with OC. It is NOT an immediate death sentence (which was how I felt when I was dx'd in Sept 2018). So many women live with it as a chronic illness for many years. I won't say it's an easy road, but it's LIVING!! And I choose that any day.

I follow an OC Facebook page where tons of women with 5+ years have fought the battle, had recurrences, fought again, or never recurred... and they are still here!! Many of them are late stage 3/4, so don't let the statistics upset you. Everyone's case is unique. Women DO beat this disease, why not your mother-in-law? That's how I am choosing to approach each step of this otherwise soul-crushing journey. Why not her? Why not me? We can all make it. We all have a chance. And listening to the women on that facebook page helped me to realize that.

Sending thoughts of strength, courage, and hope your way. Blessings to you and your MIL.



Thank you so much for the kind words. Every time I read a new message I break down in tears. But it’s really helping to hear all these amazing stories and already feel supported.

The dr she will have surgery with his an obgyn oncologist. He is the best in the area.

I want to save her from this but I know I cannot. I can only be there and encourage her to have strength. My kids adore her and they are her world. I remind her that often.

Thanks again for the support and encouragement. It is helping.

Hi my love, I know this news can be overwhelming. Let me assure you there is still a possibility that she will overcome this ordeal.

My oldest sister had stage IV colon cancer and yes she has to use the bag for the rest of her life, but she’s been cancer free for 10 years now.

Just stay positive and encourage her to believe she will be ok.


emilyjaycosta profile image
emilyjaycosta in reply to DocIt

Thank you so much for kind words. ♥️

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