The Ovarian Cancer Survival story on this page is excerpted from a story about a patient with advanced ovarian cancer that received customized cancer treatment from Dr. Keith Block at the Block Center for Integrated Cancer Therapy in Skokie, IL. The Block Center is one of our recommended Cancer Centers and Dr. Block is one of our recommended Cancer Doctors. A more detailed discussion of standard of care chemotherapy and of the customized and personalized care provided to cancer patients by Dr. Block can be found on our Cancer Centers, Cancer Doctors and Cancer Therapy Options pages.
And now for the story of Ovarian Cancer Survival.
Here is Susan's story of Ovarian Cancer Survival:
My diagnosis took me completely by surprise. I was 54 years old, owning my own personal growth business, feeling well, and enjoying my life. Some minor menopausal symptoms prompted me to schedule a visit with my doctor. It was shortly after that visit that I received the news: I had Stage IV ovarian cancer.
You're about to discover how I went from near death to cure in just 12 months... Prior to my diagnosis, I’d always believed that if I ever were to face a cancer diagnosis, I wouldn’t put myself through chemotherapy treatments.
It was with this mindset that I consulted with two oncologists. The first one told me I had 3-6 months to live and if I didn’t have chemotherapy, he wouldn’t accept me as his patient. The second doctor had a kinder bedside manner, but a similar message. I needed chemotherapy and surgery if I had any chance of fighting this disease.
It was all a lot to process, and I needed some time to figure out what I wanted to do next. The doctor gave me the “OK” to go on a previously scheduled trip to Hawaii, which I did.
Unfortunately, by the time I got back – about a month later – my condition had deteriorated. I knew I had to do something, and do it quickly. Upon the referral of a friend, and the desire to pursue a Holistic Treatment course I sought care at an alternative clinic. They provided IV vitamins. That was it. Honestly, it never felt right. But I was vulnerable, scared and on the verge of a serious health crisis. I knew it wasn't the right place for me but it provided the glimmer of hope I was looking for.
And this is at the core of my message to other cancer patients: listen to your gut, follow your intuition... seek until you find the right fit for you. It's out there. You’ll know when you’ve found the right place for treatment. Don’t let fear dictate your decision, follow your instincts. I wish I had done this when that voice inside me told me I hadn’t yet found the right place for treatment. Just over 5 months later I left the alternative facility and set out to find the right doctor and the right treatment center to help me fight and beat this disease.
While I was still trying to decide where to go for treatment, my condition was deteriorating. I was dehydrated and had to have stents put into my kidneys. I was told by several oncologists that my tumor was now too large and surgery was no longer an option. In fact, I was told I had lost the window of my opportunity for treatment of any kind. There was nothing that could be done.
And still I walked on in pursuit of the right fit for treatment. Then I had two strokes, the latter one being quite serious. My family was told to prepare for my passing, and I vaguely recall them gathered around my bedside. However, even then, I knew deep down I would survive. I knew that not only was I going to recover, I was going to move on and overcome the cancer. I believe that this deep inner knowing played an important role in my recovery. The fact that Paul, my sweetheart and partner of 20 years shared this belief, was of immense value to me throughout my journey. In fact, this deep knowing is what kept me alive.
In August, 2013, shortly after the stroke, I found the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment. Too weak to walk, I arrived in a wheelchair. But still, I knew. As soon as I met Dr. Block and Dr. Udhrain I knew I had found the right place to receive my treatment; I felt completely at home in their presence. It felt like not only the right fit... It felt like the perfect fit.
Though no one minimized the seriousness of my illness, they offered me genuine hope. Every single person I saw at The Block Center was loving and caring. When they had to deliver more “difficult” news, they did it in a constructively positive loving way. I was treated like an individual, not a number. And they treated ME, not only the cancer. I felt like I had a team behind me.
As Dr. Udhrain (one of the Center’s oncologists) said: “Susan, give me 3-4 months and you’ll feel so much better. You don’t need to worry about this. It’s my job to get the tumors to shrink. Focus on your treatment plan and getting well." It wasn't easy at times but that is just what I did. I surrendered and placed my trust in them and their 34 years of experience with the treatment and care of cancer.
After seeing several of the clinicians, a plan was developed. It started with building me up and helping me regain my strength. After a month of vitamin therapy, I was ready to begin chemotherapy. In all honesty once I got going on the chemotherapy treatment, I didn't even know I was getting it. I had very few side effects and other than losing my hair the chemotherapy was nowhere near as bad as I had anticipated.
Because of having over 30 years of experience in treating patients with cancer, The Block Center knows exactly how to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy to make that part of treatment more comfortable while still maintaining the benefits of treatment. Along with the Vitamin IVs and Chemotherapy I was given a specific diet to follow and list of supplements to take all based on extensive blood testing results to ensure this part of my treatment was individual and based on my own personal needs. In fact, everything about the Block Center is personalized. It's refreshing to know I am not a number but I am a person and my individual needs are the priority. This is rare and was certainly missing from the other cancer care programs I had attended.
The Block Center offered me many additional therapies to assist with the challenges of my journey to get well. I participated in several healing modalities such as massage therapy, relaxation techniques, guided imagery and personal counseling. All of which made the journey much more comfortable and played a role in my healing. I also learned how important proper nutrition is in order to support my body's optimal healing.
The Block Center makes this very easy by offering not only an individualized diet plan designed by a registered nutritionist but they also offer complimentary cooking classes each day along with a healthy meal. They make healthy eating fun, creative and delicious. Every experience at the Block Center honors the individual person and is delivered with love and grace. Again, this is rare.
It wasn’t long before the treatment began to work well and I was gaining enough strength to ride a recumbent bike at the Center! And eventually able to engage in my favorite hobby... kayaking. So from the wheelchair to the kayak was a dream come true for me. Tumors were shrinking and finally I was strong enough to undergo the surgery that would remove the one remaining tumor.
And here I am today. “A Miracle,” according to my surgeon. The day after my surgery, my surgeon Dr. John Knaus – referred to me by Dr. Block – came into my room and said “I was able to get 100% of the cancer out. I can't say this to everyone but I can honestly tell you that your case is a Miracle. I believe You’re cured.” Tears of gratitude filled my eyes and I remembered what I had heard myself say so many, many times... "I want to Live... I'm going to Live"! Thank You!
I know I’ve been given this incredible gift. My message is this: if this Miracle can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. It can happen to You! I know that the Block Center’s approach to care, the staff and the atmosphere all contributed tremendously to where I am today. I encourage anyone facing a cancer diagnosis to not give up hope. Go until you find what fits for you and keep going until you land where you belong. Yes, there will be some down times, there will be some difficult times, but if you want to live, build from there. Know it's possible! And it begins within You!
It's not in how hard we fall, it's in how we pick ourselves up! And still I walk on... Just the other day I had the privilege to once again spend time at the Block Center... this time for a Wellness Check Up. You see the Block Center isn't just committed to cancer care they are committed to you as a whole person even after cancer treatment. Longevity and good health is the treatment plan now. I will be forever grateful to the Block Center for giving me this second chance, and for helping me become this “Miracle.”
I whole heartedly recommend the Block Center for anyone who is facing the diagnoses of cancer. You will be met with personalized loving, caring and state of the art care and most of all you will be given the chance to create your own Miracle. Make the choice to Live.
NOTE: The above account was excerpted and summarized from blockmd.com
For additional stories of ovarian cancer survival see Ovarian Cancer Patient Stories-Patients of Dr. Robert Nagourney
For cancer survivor stores of people with other types of cancer see our Cancer Survivor Stories page