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Distended stomach
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Distended stomach

Hi Dr. Goodman and all the forum readers,

My mom had a recurrence of ovarian cancer in Jan 2007. There were 3 small tumours in the stomach cavity, "outside" the stomach lining. She did chemo again, but it didn't help much, the tumours got a little smaller but were still there. She was offered to take part of a clinical trial and had her first treatment last Tuesday.

About 3 months ago she started getting severe lower pack pain that was first attributed to subluxation (which she’s had since she was young), then it was a pinched nerve and in the end they said it was a twisted muscle. In the process she was given many drugs to help with the pain, anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxants. Nothing seemed to help until she started getting deep tissue massage and only taking Oxicontin (once a day) for pain management.

About two and a half weeks ago her stomach became very distended, she looks like she’s 7 months pregnant, and she can’t sleep because there’s pressure on her lungs and back. She doesn’t eat much and her legs are swollen with water. We ended up in the emergency room last Wednesday and the ER doctor did blood and urine tests, everything was normal. He said it must be ascites and she needs to get a paracentesis as soon as possible. So the following Friday we were at the hospital for an ultrasound and the procedure. The doctor that did the ultrasound said there’s very little fluid and doing a paracentesis will be life threatening. We saw her new oncologist (from the clinical trial) and she said her stomach is full of gas because of the cancer irritating the stomach, gave her a laxative and said she needs to start treatment right away.

My mom has no problems with bowel movements and goes at least once a day, but the stomach pressure does ease after that.
The following Monday she went to the hospital to do some tests before she starts the treatment. The weighted her and she was 150 lbs. She did the treatment on Tuesday and it went well. Then on Wednesday her stomach was even bigger and we ended up in the ER again. They did an x-ray this time to role out an obstruction. The ER doc said she was full of fluid. He didn’t say if it was ascites or just water, but he said it needs to be drained.

The following day we called her nurse and she said she can’t see the results yet (she’s in a different hospital but they share information, we’re in Canada). She said the radiologist was an idiot and that it’s not fluid but gas and that she’s can’t do anything but continue the laxatives.

Yesterday (Friday) she weighted herself and was 160 lbs! We’re worried because we don’t think it’s normal to gain 10 lbs in 5 days. We don’t know who else to turn to,  one doc tells us one thing and another doc says the opposite. Needless to say my mom is discouraged and very sceptical.
My mom has never had pain from the cancer or any other symptoms except from the treatments she’s received. My mom’s largest tumour is just smaller than 3cm and the other ones are much smaller,  and her last CT was done 4 weeks ago. So how can the cancer cause such a great irritation to the stomach and make the stomach distended all of a sudden?

Sorry, for the long note, I really appreciate you taking the time to read it. We feel like we can’t turn to our doctors here and don’t know where else to turn. If anyone has similar stories please share them with me.

Dr. Goodman,  thank you for reading this, any suggestions you have are immensely appreciated.

Sandra
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3 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
Sandra, you probably wanted to post this on the doctor's forum which you can find below the list of member's forums.  I think it would be great if you could get an answer there, as it sounds like you really do need someone else's opinion.  I am so sorry to hear this tale about your mother.  Your story makes me so angry.  Bad enough to have to go through this without feeling like a ping pong ball.  Is there anyway you can get another opinion from another oncologist?  I wish I could help you.  I feel so helpless and can't even imagine what this is like for you and your mother.  I'm glad she has the support of a loving daughter.  It's good you posted here even if by accident, because there are so many smart, knowledgeable, caring women here.  Please be strong. Paula
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Paula,

Thank you for your reply and your support, we need all that we can get right now.
I realized I posted on the wrong form after the note was already posted, but that's OK, I wanted other women to read it too, not just the doctor, they are a valuable resource.
I'll try posting again later since it's telling me the daily maximum number of questions has been reached and I should try tomorrow.
Thanks again Paula.
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Avatar_f_tn
So this is how this thing unfolded...my mom was getting worse everyday until yesterday we had to go to the ER again. The doc did an xray and CT scan and found she DOES have lots of fluid. He did the paracentesis and drained 4 liters out of her! 4 liters! He tested the fluid for infection and it came back negative so we took my mom home.

Finally, the ping pong game is over. It "only" took seeing 4 doctors in 3 different hospital to get this taken care of.

I hope this story helps someone out there. You have to keep at them and insist on tests otherwise you might not be taken seriously. It's unfortunate but we have to be our own advocate.

Sandra
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