Experience with Ovarian Cancer
Pat was diagnosed with an ovarian tumor in August 1996. She had a hysterectomy
at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and was advised that she had Stage
III ovarian cancer, and surgery did not successfully remove all of the
cancer cells. Her surgeon referred Pat to Dr. Stephen A. Cannistra, Director
of Gynecologic Medical Oncology, who developed a new protocol for ovarian
cancer treatment at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and at the
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Pat endured her first few rounds of chemotherapy relatively well. She
suffered the predicted side effects - hair loss, nausea and loss of appetite
- but her relative good health brought her through the treatment at Dana
Farber in good physical shape. Six months after her first round of chemo
the cancer was back.
Pat elected to undergo a double bone marrow transplant to combat the cancer
once again and to improve her long-term chances for a complete recovery.
The procedure went well, but her recovery was long and complicated. In
addition to the extreme fatigue, lethargy and loss of appetite characteristic
of the procedure, Pat was also suffering a brain infection from toxoplasmosis,
a pre-existing condition. This condition was treated with antibiotic therapy,
and Pat began a slow but steady recovery.
One year after the transplant, the cancer returned once again. Despite
subsequent chemotherapy rounds, Pat learned early in the summer of 2000
that it had spread to her liver. Although she planned additional chemotherapy,
Pat was not well enough to receive it. After spending several weeks in
the hospital hoping to begin treatment again, Pat died at home in August
Through her treatment, Pat was supported by a wide variety of friends
and family. When she was first diagnosed, Pat was referred to group therapy,
but there were no support groups for women with ovarian cancer. She was
the first candidate in her treatment protocol, and she spoke with the
other women who joined her as time passed. But no group existed for her,
so she created her own.
Friends scheduled their time off to visit her in chemotherapy, wrapping
their Christmas presents while she was in treatment, driving her to sessions
and blood tests. When Pat returned home after her bone marrow treatment,
friends and family took shifts staying nights, days and weekends, as necessary.
In her last battle, they sat with her in the hospital, and finally at
This special community is not available to everyone with cancer. Pat had
a wide variety of friends and her spirited battle against cancer drew
them closer to her and to each other. Not everyone has a similar community
or such support. In her memory, Pat's Friends want to bring the same support
to other women, their families and friends battling cancer. Contributions
to the Patricia Cronin Foundation to Fight Ovarian Cancer will be dedicated
to funding support groups and other efforts to treat women living with