I am Pat Isenberg from Louisville, KY. I have been married to my husband Bob for over 47 years. We have two children, Renee and Todd, and three grandchildren, Jacob, Jenna, and Samuel. We now know grandkids are one of God’s blessings for getting old! Bob is retired and we love to travel and spend time with family.
My favorite thing to do is gardening. I love Roses and Lilies best. But, I joke often I have never seen a flower I didn’t like. When I want to relax, I work in my garden; as it is better than any pill you could take.
My story is like others in that I was misdiagnosed.
I had been having problems in the Spring of 2003 and had made an appointment with my gynecologist. When she couldn’t find anything wrong, she sent me to an Internist, who then blew me off with the remark:
“You are over 50, have had children, and are overweight so it’s probably your gallbladder causing you to feel bad. Besides, it’s derby week in Kentucky and I’m going on vacation”.
I did have some tests done at the hospital later that week. I wasn’t worried because I had my pap smear and all my checkups months earlier. I certainly didn’t know that a pap smear didn’t cover screening for Ovarian Cancer.
Boy, have I gotten smarter.
They found ascites in my abdomen and drained it. Later I ended up in the hospital from dehydration and a GI Doctor was called in. He walked in my room and told me I had Ovarian Cancer, a phrase no one wants to hear! I asked how long do I have and I was told I had three to six months to live. I sought out a great Gynecological Oncologist who did nine hours of debulking surgery with the removal of my ovaries, omentum, spleen, and part of my colon.
I was diagnosed with Stage IV grade 3 Epithelial Ovarian Cancer.
I then took chemo, participating in a trial study of GOG 182- Taxol- Carboplatin, and Topeteaken. My CA-125 was 5000 before surgery and 200 afterward. It came to the single digits in Oct of 2003. It remains there still. I did take six rounds of Taxol as maintenance after finishing my treatment in June of 2004 and have been chemo-free since. In February 2012, I had a bowel obstruction and soon after had surgery to open the bowel to remove and repair a large hernia the size of a soccer ball. My Ca-125 remains between 6.5 and 9.0 and I have not needed chemotherapy since 2004.
I heard about the free support offered by OAK (Ovarian Awareness Kentucky) and became an active member. We do the STS (Survivors Teaching Students) program to 3rd-year gynecologic oncology medical students at U of L & UK, Lunch and Learns, and health fairs with many women all over Kentucky. I feel so strongly about getting the word out and have traveled many miles to do so. I believe it is vitally important to continue to help educate women in our community so they never go through what I did. Throughout this journey, I have met so many wonderful people.
My advice to others: Always enjoy the moment and never take anything for granted.
I tell my doctor he is great, but I know God guided his hands and answered lots of prayers. I have enjoyed being a member of OAK over the years. They give us such great support and I have met many wonderful members. Our teal sisters have lifted the spirit of others in many ways. I believe one reason is that ONE KNOWS BETTER THAN THE ONE ON THE JOURNEY THEMSELVES.
If you or someone you know and love has been diagnosed with any form of a GYN Cancer, please reach out to OAK for free support at email@example.com, 502-708-1625, www.oakky.org.
You do not have to go through this journey alone.