Magazine article Humane Health Care International

I'm Dying to Tell You: My Experiences with Ovarian Cancer

Magazine article Humane Health Care International

I'm Dying to Tell You: My Experiences with Ovarian Cancer

Article excerpt

Ms. Estok received word that we would publish her moving (and troubling) testimony as she was dying from widely disseminated ovarian cancer.

1 Humane Health Care International Volume 12, Number 4, 1996, pp. 185-190.

With the recurrence and progression of my ovarian cancer, I have a sense of urgency to tell my story. Call it part of the unfinished business I have to deal with in the time that remains to me. I think it is also the right time to tackle this project, for the rage I experienced for months after the diagnosis was finally made has given way to a gentler feeling, less focussed on myself. Earlier I would have preferred justice, perhaps even vengeance. Now it is my hope that this account might prompt a questioning of existing medical procedures and their shortcomings, and ultimately lead to improved methods for early detection of this cancer.

Thus I write not so much to apportion blame among my doctors (kindly, decent persons, and capable practitioners every one of them), but nevertheless to try to answer the question: "How could this have happened? How could this cancer have been missed when I was under the care of such reputable physicians?"

I ask the reader willingly to suspend the almost automatic pat answer of the medical profession, namely that ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to detect (ovaries sometimes being elusive to palpation and evaluation) and examine with me my medical history and records.

I first sought help for irregular bleeding in January 1989, and at that time also complained of pain in the right side. My family doctor, whom I will call Dr. Avery, (1) examined me, found the ovaries to be of normal size, but nevertheless ordered an ultrasound and referred me to a gynaecologist, Dr. Blythe. This doctor suggested oestrogen replacement therapy (ERT) to control the bleeding, for although the ultrasound report was not definitive, a small fibroid could not be ruled out. …

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