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My Story | Jacquie, Australia

Choriocarcinoma with lung metastasis, January 2002 at 33,
Chemotherapy
Crohn's disease

I am married to my soulmate, Darren, and we have a beautiful little two-year-old daughter, Chelsea Grace. Mid last year, we decided it was time she had a playmate.

That's when my story began to unfold.

By the end of July last year (2001), I felt so very pregnant. I had all the symptoms and was one week overdue with my period. We did a home pregnancy test which was positive, and three days later, my pregnancy was confirmed with a blood test. But then I got my period and thought, "Oh no, we'd better keep trying." At the time, I didn't know that my beta-hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) level was 30, well above normal.

During August and September, all was well. I had a normal period, then I skipped a period. On October 13, I was two weeks overdue when I collapsed at home. My right side went numb, my voice became fuzzy, and I lost bowel control. Darren rang an ambulance, but about 15 minutes later, I was up and about. Then it happened again, so back came the ambulance which took me to hospital. They performed an ECG (electrocardiogram) and did blood work which showed I was pregnant (beta-hCG 115), but when they admitted me and performed an ultrasound, no baby was apparent. They weren't too concerned, though, since it was so early in the pregnancy. A neurologist diagnosed me with gestational migraines.

I spent a week in hospital, collapsing every day and feeling really crappy. I was put on inderal to keep the migraines at bay, but that really didn't work. I also had an EEG (electroencephalogram) done which showed minor brain abnormalities - they said it was nothing to worry about.

Around the end of October, I met with a gynecologist and had another ultrasound. Again, there was no baby. By this time, I should have been at least seven weeks pregnant. He believed I had miscarried, and sent me to a larger ultrasound machine for a scan. I had another EEG and then an MRI (magnetic resonance image) which was normal. Thank God!

My beta-hCG was still rising slowly, first 115, then 263, then 350, to around 480 in mid-December. My gynecologist would not give me a D&C (dilation and curettage); he believed we could bring on my period with hormone tablets, and it would all be fixed. That didn't work. So he arranged a chest scan and, in December, they found a two-centimeter lesion in my right lung. We decided that we wanted to enjoy the holidays, so I waited until 4 January to have a lung biopsy. On 7 January, I was told I had choriocarcinoma and would need chemotherapy.

Wow! Did my world ever turn upside down! Deep down, I had thought of the remote possibility of cancer, but, in reality, never imagined it would have been responsible for the preceding three months of hell. Fortunately, I had the support of a wonderful husband, family, and friends to help me get through this nightmare.

I commenced chemo on 14 January with the EMACO regimen which I understand has great success in treating choriocarcinoma. My treatment is weekly, with a fortnightly overnight stay in hospital. I have finished part of the first cycle, and I must admit I thought it would have been worse. Mind you, my body feels like it's been run over by a truck - and tired, boy, I never knew how tired a person could get until now.

I also have Crohn's disease, which is terribly draining in itself. The chemo treatments cause it to flare up, so I welcome the doses of steroids they give me. Hopefully my appetite will come back!

So that is my story so far. I promise I will come back in six to eight months to let you all know that I am cured!

February 2002

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