Brad De Luchi Shares The Story of His Wife Leslie's Ovarian Cancer Battle and Triumphant Return at Let's ROC 5k!!
December 15 / 16, 2008 - We arrive at home after a routine Monday at work. Leslie complains of some lower abdominal pain; nothing severe but noticeable. She had planned on going out and doing some Christmas shopping but the pain caused her to rethink her plans. Shortly thereafter the pain subsides and after dinner she heads out to do some shopping.
Awhile later I receive a phone call from her; the pain has returned. This time more intense, to the point where she thinks she may not be able to drive home. This presents something of a quandary as we were, at the time, a one car family. My brain immediately started trying to solve the transportation issue; who do I call, how do we get the car back? The pain, again, subsides and she returns home.
A short time after she returns home, the pain returns, stronger than it had been earlier in the evening. This time it causes her to double-over in the kitchen and cry out. And then, again, it passes.
Around 11:30pm I awake to find that she is not in bed. I find her in the kitchen, vomiting in the sink. I call her doctor’s night time service who gets me in contact with the on-call physician. I explain the situation and he tells me that there isn’t much he can diagnose over the phone and that we need to go to the nearest emergency room.
We arrived at the ER shortly after midnight.
A little later they wheel her back and the news is that she has a ruptured ovarian cyst. But his news doesn’t end there. The doctor goes onto say that there are multiple cysts and some demand immediate attention.
Dec 17, 2008 – We go for a follow-up ultrasound.
Dec 19, 2008 – We meet with Leslie’s OB/GYN to review the results of the ultrasound. He says, “I’m very concerned.” He tells that there is a large pelvic mass. He explains that he can’t tell what it is from the ultrasound but that it is something requires immediate attention to determine what it is and how to treat it. Then he drops the “C” word, cancer. He says that there is the possibility that this is a cancerous mass. He tells us that he wants us to meet with a Gynecological Oncologist. After that, I’m not really sure what he said. He did end by asking if we had any questions but since I had not been able to remember much of what he said, I didn’t know what questions to ask. He tells us that he’ll get us in with the specialist as soon as possible.
Dec 23, 2008 – We meet with the specialist. He performs an ultrasound and for the first time we see the mass on screen. It doesn’t look like much to me, just a big dark area. I don’t know if the image on the screen is to scale or enlarged. We sit down in his office and he starts explaining what he has seen and what his concerns are.
He says that the large grapefruit-sized mass is not of concern because of its color. However, there is another mass, shaped like a gourd, that is of concern. He explains that the treatment will be surgery and given the size of the masses it will need to be invasive surgery. He explains the best case scenario which is they open her up, take out the masses and that these growths are benign. The worst case scenario is that these masses turn out to be cancerous and that they would remove her ovaries, uterus and anything else that may contain cancer.
The surgery will last two to three hours and she will be in the hospital no more than three nights.
Later that day, the doctor’s office calls with a surgery date, December 31, 2008 at 1:45pm. 2008 will end with Leslie in the hospital and 2009 will start with Leslie in the hospital. The surgery time gets scheduled for 7:15am on December 31. We check in at 5:00am and around 7:15am they wheel her away. The next time I see her, she will be a different person.
Around 10:30, three hours after the surgery had started, just like a scene out from television, the surgeon comes out and gives us the news. She has cancer. I have no idea what else he said as my brain shut off after hearing the word “cancer.”
We move to the family waiting area and wait for Leslie to be moved to her room. The Recovery Hostess had given me her room number, 257. After sitting in the waiting room for a little while everybody suggest that I go look at her room. I make my way to 257 only to discover that won’t be her room. That room is still occupied. Shortly after I return to the waiting area I see Leslie wheeled by. I follow her to her room. As I follow far behind the bed I am struck by the thought that my wife shouldn’t be being pushed down a hall in a hospital bed. She shouldn’t have cancer. She shouldn’t be sick.
I enter her room and find her somewhat awake. We talk for a little bit and then I ask if she wants to see everybody else. At this moment, I get the first sign that she is okay and that everything will be okay. With her eyes barely open, her body coming out of the anesthetic fog she says, “Yes but no criers.”
Friday, January 9, 2009 we meet with the surgeon to go over the pathology report. Leslie has Stage IIc ovarian cancer. This is good news because it means that it is still considered early. The surgery resulted in the removal of her uterus and both ovaries. The surgeon also removed two cancerous masses. He did detect cancer in the pelvic area but none was detected in the lymph nodes or bowels and this last piece of news is very welcome.
She will need to undergo chemotherapy; six rounds.
Friday, January 30, 2009, Leslie has her first round of chemotherapy.
June of 2009 she has her last round of chemotherapy.
In September of 2009 she walks the Let's ROC! 5k.
In 2010 she signs us up for the Urban Cow Half Marathon training program, and thus begins my (Brad De Luchi's) association with Fleet Feet, and in October of 2010, she runs her first half marathon.
In March of 2014, five years after treatment, she ran her first 50k, Way Too Cool.