40 Year Ovarian Cancer Survivor Elizabeth Thornington
Havelock, Ontario, Canada
We first met Elizabeth Thornington by way of an enchanting Private Face Book Group entitled “Magical Moments of the Afghan Hound” administered by a delightful lady by the name of Jil Bridget Atkinson who lives in the UK. There are wonderful photos, music and Afghan hound antics that are shared on a daily basis. The members of the group who are “owned” by these magnificent and silly creatures just love it.
The group has members from all over the world including Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Newfoundland, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States. Elizabeth Thornington lives in Havelock, Ontario, Canada. A year ago we had shared information about the OCSA Spokes Dog Ch Sharrah’s Khalin – that magnificent Afghan hound who represented OCSA at Health Fairs, Parades, Dog Walks from 2010-2017. Elizabeth was intrigued and reached out to us to share her amazing story of survival that occurred over 41 years ago.
In her own words:
My Story began back in 1977… I was diagnosed pregnant, throwing up all day long and when I was 8 months along, I hemorrhaged and was rushed to the hospital. Because I was not far enough along in my pregnancy the physicians gave me a drug to stop the contractions. I was adamant that my due date was April 20, the ultrasound showed that I had *Placenta previa and that I was due to give birth on May 2nd. In light of that test, the doctors set up April 25th to perform a Cesarean delivery. On April 20th at 6pm, I hemorrhaged. The doctor and staff were so apologetic that I had to go through this again. At 10:50pm our son was born but because ¾’s of the placenta had slipped through the cervix over the fetus and attached itself to the vagina walls the doctor had to manually pull it out every half hour from 11pm on Thursday evening until 12 noon on Saturday. The pain was incredible. After a month of being in an incubator, our miracle son was able to come home to us on Mother’s Day 1978.
*Placenta previa occurs when a baby’s placenta partially or totally covers the mother’s cervix — the outlet for the uterus. Placenta previa can cause severe bleeding during pregnancy and delivery. If you have placenta previa, you might bleed throughout your pregnancy and during your delivery. Mayo Clinic, March 2018.
May of 1978 was an important time in my life. While trying to conceive again, my menstrual cycle stopped and I was throwing up all day long again and begin to show signs of pregnancy but the tests came back negative. After many months, I decided to make an appointment with the same gynecologist/obstetrician who delivered our son for a consultation and examination. On October 1, 1979 he suggested that I have an examination under general anesthetics as he believed it could be a lodged stool or perhaps a benign lump. I checked into the hospital on October 22, 1979 and at 8am on October 23 he performed his examination, the lump went from the size of a golf gall to the size of a football and I ended up having a complete hysterectomy that included the scraping of every area of my womb walls, the removal of both ovaries, fallopian tubes and my cervix.
I was only 24 years old! It turned out to be the rarest ovarian tumor that they had ever come across and had no idea how to treat it. On November 25, 1979 I met my doctor at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto to plan my ongoing treatment. At that meeting he said I “would never see my 18 month son reach kindergarten”. He had not even checked my chart! I was so angry and told him “I will most certainly meet my grandchildren.”
However, the medical team came up with a treatment plan. I checked into a private room at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Lodge at the beginning of December. I began 20 radiation treatments, 10 on my front and 10 on my back. After a total of 16 treatments, my white blood cells got too low so they sent me home over Christmas to build them up so I could come back and finish the last 4 treatments. I was sicker than a dog from the very first treatment, but the staff was so friendly and helpful. When speaking to one of the doctors there, he said that with no history of ovarian cancer on either side of my family that my condition was probably brought on by the horrific traumatic experience I went through with the pregnancy of my son. All the pain I endured was too much for anyone to experience…but thankfully, I survived the treatments.
I am just happy that my doctors were so thorough, that I fought with everything in me to survive. My son is 41 years old and I have been cancer free for almost 41 years from the time of my operation. God was with me and still is. Amen.
My advice to you…be in tune with your own body and fight with all that you have to survive. I believe your mind is stronger and you CAN fight cancer. My heart is with you all!!!