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This website has been created to follow and support Tif’s journey as she takes on her recently diagnosed Ovarian Cancer (OC).
Tif was diagnosed on Monday June 11th, 2018.
Since that day many of her friends got on their phones, searched the web, called in their chips and within one week she was at five of the top hospitals on the East Coast (Memorial Sloan Kettering, NYU Langone Center, Mount Sinai, Columbia University Medical Center, Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Hospital) and visiting the top Ovarian Cancer specialists and in the field. On Monday June 25th, after weighing the many the pro’s and con’s of each hospital (and they were mostly all pro’s) Tif decided upon Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) with Dr. Ginger Gardner (surgeon) and Dr. Chrisann Kyi (oncologist) heading her treatment team.
Ovarian Cancer is known as the Silent Killer but our Tif is known as the Silent Slayer 😉
Many of you are probably asking “How in the heck did this happen?”, (don’t know?, genetic link?, roll of the dice?), “Were there any signs?” (all the signs are just regular old signs of being a gal – see below symptoms of ovarian cancer), “Did she go for regular check-ups?” (heck YEAH!!!). Just to reinforce how silent this cancer is, Doctors told Tif that the cancer probably manifested itself within past six months to a year . By the time most women learn they have it, it has spread from ovaries to other parts of the body – a fast moving cancer that needs to be aggressively attacked and not treated with kit gloves!
How Tif Found Out
Tif and Doug were away in Colorado with Teaghan, who was trying out for the USA U17 Olympic basketball team in late May. When they returned Tif was having trouble breathing but attributed it to the altitude switch from CO to NY. She was also extremely tired but chalked that up to being a working mom, traveling, running around and just plain old not getting enough sleep. On June 7th she realized something was “up” due to her labored breath and exhaustion and went to the doctors. While there they thought she pneumonia because her right lung was filled with fluid. They then recommended draining her lung because in the interim her right lung collapsed due to weight of fluid. In medical speak, Tif had pleural effusion. A pleural effusions is the buildup of extra fluid between the lungs and the chest wall. When cancer grows in the pleural space, it causes a malignant pleural effusion. This pleural effusion is treatable and thank goodness they took care of it that day. It is because of that fluid build up and collapsed lung that the doctors knew something was wrong. They then sent off the fluid to have it anaylzed and on Monday June 11th they called her in and asked her to come in and have a CAT scan. Within an hour of her being home from the scan they called her up to tell her that she had metastatic bilateral ovarian cancer. Not the call anyone ever wants to get/hear.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
- Ovarian cancer develops in the ovaries, which are the female reproductive glands that produce eggs during a woman’s reproductive years. The ovaries also produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer develops when cells in the ovaries begin to grow out of control.
Until recently, doctors viewed ovarian cancer as the deadliest silent killer in women, as it is usually discovered after spreading beyond the primary tumor site. But new evidence shows that it is treatable AND can go into remission.
The warning signs of ovarian cancer mock common conditions including irritable bowel syndrome and stress. If you have any symptoms (see below) for longer than a couple weeks, call your doctor.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer
- Increased abdominal size
- Abdominal pain
- Pelvic pain
- Difficulty eating
- Feeling full quickly
- labored breathing
For more information on detecting ovarian cancer, click here.
Tif started treatment this Wednesday (6/27/18) at MSK in NYC. Her treatment will involve three drugs (Carboplatin , Paclitaxel and Bevacizumab, also known as Avastin) every 21 days. Her chemotherapy will be an all day affair. The plan so far is the following (but as we all know plans are always fluid):
- three to four rounds of chemo
- three more cycles of chemo
- assess where she is (Goal — cancer GONE!)
What can you do?
This site has been created to keep you all updated, so that you can send her your good thoughts, and positive energy, share your inspirational words of encouragement, and for you to be a part of Team Tif as we carry her in prayer and cradle her in love as she takes on this journey to a cancer free Tif.
Looking forward to hearing from you all. Team Tif makes no cuts and all get to play, a very active roll — very similar to the way her dad, Tom O’Toole coached and lived his life.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
July 1st, 2018
DAY 4 (of Cycle 1) After Chemo
Looking Good, Feeling OK
So, four days in and Tif is feeling OK. Aside from nausea, feeling tired, and aches and pains in her joints she is feeling surprisingly good for someone who just had her first blast of chemo. Her spirits are high and her energy this AM matched her positive attitude. She took an early morning walk to Playland and walked the boardwalk and pier. She chatted it up with the fisherman and than decided to call it a day and get home to do some laundry (a mother’s work is never done!).
These past few days Tif has been truly touched and overwhelmed by the many texts, calls, flowers, food, emails, notes, prayer cards, medallions, visitors, and awesome gifts (ranging all the way from baseball caps, popcorn, a various assortment of home goods and yes even furniture). The kindness, generosity and outpouring of love being showered upon her is definitely carrying her to a better place both mentally and physically. Good work Team Tif ❤️😊👍
Have a great Sunday and today let’s be like Tif and continue to keep our spirits elevated! As Norman Vincent Peale used to say “We all have the power within us to keep our spirits high”. And what is this inner power? Simply, the God given ability to BELIEVE. To the extent to which you develop this faculty, you will be able to master the defeats and lows in your life. The great issue is to learn to believe. This is stated eloquently in one of the most important of all Scripture passages:
- Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Mark Mark 9:23
July 2 & 3, 2018
DAY 5 and 6 (of Cycle 1) After Chemo
Guests in the House, Walking and a Thumbs Up Attitude
Sunday and Monday were busy days at the Flaherty O’Toole home. Tif had a few friends and family pop on over and the house has been hopping. Lots of laughs and smiles, upbeat stories, get well packages with not only loving touches but many home remedies shared on how to treat some of the new symptoms she is experiencing.
Tif is still feeling OK but the chemo is causing aches and pains where she once had none. The exhaustion is “there” but she continues to move along with the speed and determination of a young kid on a mission. She IS reading all the articles you are sending and is trying many of the home treatments that have been shared.
The O’Toole Flaherty household is being charged daily by all the positivity that is being sent its way. The flowers, the gifts, the food, the oils, the desserts, etc are making for not only a happy home but a very grateful one. If the love already shown to Tif and family could beat this disease Tif would be 100% cured today!
Tif has always tried to live her life with a positive mental attitude. Her parent’s, Dorothy and Tom O’Toole, believed and instilled this value in her at a young age. A “thumbs up” was a given when asked how one felt in her home growing up and it is still the characteristic trait remembered by many when recalling her dad. As we go about the rest of the week, let us try to remember the advice and sage words given by author and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl:
- “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Let’s consciously choose a thumb’s up attitude today and always – Be Continue reading The Journey Begins