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In October 2006, Lillie went to her general doctor because she noticed that her stomach was protruding out more than normal, and also that there was some fluid leaking from her navel area. The diagnose was that she had a hernia and suggested surgery, Lillie declined. She made an appointment a few months later with her internal medicine doctor and after the visit he sent her to a gynecologist.
In January 2007 Lillie was diagnosed by a gynecological doctor with stage 4 ovarian cancer after being missed diagnosed 3 months earlier by her general doctor. Lillie was 64 years old at the time of her diagnoses; she had no known prior symptoms. But she remembered that her husband told her that her stomach felt hard, about 8 to 10 months prior. During this time her mother was dying, she was 92. Lillie’s mother dies on a Monday evening and on Wednesday, Lillie found out she had ovarian cancer. Her surgery was scheduled for the following Tuesday.
During her surgery the doctor was able to remove her tumor that was the size of a 2 liter bottle, leaving a small amount of the tumor on her colon to prevent her from wearing a colonoscopy bag, After her surges, she was asked to be a part of trials for chemotherapy research for ovarian cancer.
She did very well on the trail treatments, she lost her hair but not her lively personality although it did stop her from doing just what she wanted to do. After her initial treatment Lillie went about 10 months without treatment, but during a routine CT scan they noticed a small growth in her lymph nodes around her pelvic area. During this treatment Lillie did very well with her treatments, they never made her sick to the point where she could not live her normal life. Lillie was a frequent traveler; she had traveled the world and always visited places around the US.
In October 2010, during yet another routine CT scan, doctors found yet another growth in her abdominal area, which required surgery. The surgery went well but the surgical oncologist could not remove one of the tumors because it was too close to major a organ near her stomach area. Lillie usually had speedy recoveries after her surgeries but this one seemingly took longer. At this time, unknowingly, Lillie’s tumors were growing and spreading very rapidly, April 2011, after a few weeks of not being able to keep food down yet another CT scan revealed that the tumors were blocking her stomach and esophagus are. She underwent more surgeries that would reroute her digestive tract, but her tumors were growing at a pace that allowed her to live in and out of the hospital.
Lillie never complained during this difficult time in her life. Her favorite words were “I am alright”. Lillie maintains her friendly personality up until her last responsive days; she transitioned from earthly home to her heavenly home Thursday, May 19, 2011. Lillie cherished the precious gift of life – always displaying her beautiful smile and never complaining nor allowing her medical condition to lessen her of living.
Lillie J. Tanksley’s Story is just one of many stories about the effects of Ovarian Cancer.