Cancer Was My Main Risk Factor for Blood Clots: Heidi’s Story

I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2017. I had a complete hysterectomy followed by the standard six rounds of chemotherapy, after which I had no evidence of disease until February 2021 when I had a recurrence.

I had to undergo six more rounds of chemo, and I also participated in a trial, but my tumors kept growing. From genomic testing, I found I had a pik3ca mutation, which has been treated with an oral chemotherapy drug for over a year now.

Shortly after starting the drug, I flew to Florida to visit family for a week. We had done a lot of walking and sightseeing, so I thought I just had a sore muscle in my calf, but it persisted. Since the other calf did not have any pain, I thought that something was not right. Plus, I knew cancer increased my risk of developing blood clots. A trip to the ER and an ultrasound proved I indeed had a blood clot in my leg, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

The hospital staff also did a scan of my lungs and found a few clots, or pulmonary emboli. The doctor did not think my clot was directly related to flying; he felt my cancer was my main risk factor. I was immediately put on a high dose of anticoagulants and the pain subsided in a little over a week. The anticoagulant dose was reduced, and I will most likely stay on it for the rest of my life.

Since my blood clot diagnosis, I had another blood clot scare in my other leg and scheduled an ultrasound right away. Luckily there was no clot, but I am grateful I am aware of the signs and symptoms and know my risk.

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