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The Story of Amanda

Living well with late stage ovarian cancer

woman-801928_640Amanda, the 50-year-old lady whose story started this article, is an otherwise healthy and cheerful lady who is full of energy. Because she was usually healthy and does not like visiting doctors, she has held off her diagnosis and treatment for too long until she presents with severe pain, unable to talk or get out of bed. For the control of her pain, she required high doses of morphine-like medications (opiates) and morphine to achieve initial humane control of her severe pain.

This drives her doctors, a multi-disciplinary team consisting of oncologist, interventional radiologist, pain physicians, and pathologist, to ignite to action in a race to achieve rapid diagnosis of Amanda’s condition and initiate treatments. The diagnosis was achieved within period of three days, and chemotherapeutic treatment was initiated with combination cytotoxic and molecular targeted therapy.

Within a few days of the initiation of her treatment, Amanda’s condition improved very significantly as evidenced by the decreasing need for her pain control medications. She was regaining her usual cheerful and positive self. Slightly more than a week following initiation of her treatment, she was discharged from the hospital. Two weeks later, Amanda was able to start her usual shopping routine for her family. Three cycles of chemotherapeutic treatment later, the cancer showed evidence of almost complete remission – the disease was almost undetectable by scans or laboratory tests. A year from her initial presentation writhing in a hospital bed in severe pain, Amanda remains a cheerful energetic lady with a heavy schedule of travelling, holidaying, and entertaining the many local and overseas guests that often visit her.

The story of Amanda is not unusual for women presenting with epithelial ovarian cancer in this day and age. It taught us that there is hope and effective treatment options to help the many patients presenting with late stage ovarian cancer live high quality, active, and meaningful lives.

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