After invasive surgery and 8 cycles of chemotherapy, Cheryl Waller has been in remission from ovarian cancer for more than ten years. A woman with many interests – including 40 years with the Girl Guides and a lover of travelling Australia in her Winnebago with long-time partner Rhonda and their three dogs – Cheryl is also an active member of ANZGOG’s Consumer & Community Committee. Cheryl shares her cancer journey…
I was diagnosed with Stage III Ovarian Cancer on 26th June 2003 and was rushed into surgery at Westmead Hospital the next day. The surgery involved a radical hysterectomy and removal of a secondary cancer from around my stomach lining. Chemotherapy started twelve days later – a treatment that took up to 8 hours a session – and was followed by 7 more cycles. I had problems with my blood count so the entire chemo treatment took 6 months to complete.
The treatment made me weak and I experienced painful nerve damage in my feet. This, coupled with nausea and vomiting, made the chemo experience overwhelming. I found that acceptance and taking each day, one day at a time, was the best way to deal with what was happening to me mentally and physically.
One of the nurses at Westmead approached me prior to leaving hospital about joining one of ANZGOG’s trials. She explained the process thoroughly and left me material to read and her number just in case I had any questions.
I was offered random selection on GOG182 – a trial which compared the efficacy of four experimental chemotherapy regimes individually against a control arm – and was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate. Cancer is rife in my family so anything I could do to assist future generations and other families was a no brainer.
My trial experience was a truly positive one, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is eligible to participate.