In 2004, I was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. I will never forget the shock and fear I experienced after hearing my diagnosis for the first time. I thought about my mother who passed away from ovarian cancer when she was just 39. We thought she just had a really bad flu virus but after she went to the hospital, we learned it was ovarian cancer. She passed away just six months after her diagnosis, with my grandmother caring for her until she went into hospice care. I remember how rough it was for me and my siblings losing her at such a young age. So when I found out I had the same cancer I knew I had to stay strong for my kids and I wanted to honor my mother by fighting back.
At first I didn’t like talking about cancer; I kept things to myself a lot. I didn’t want people to see my hair fall out from chemo (and thanks to my stylist Jamie, she made sure I always looked together). When I went through chemo I acted like everything was OK, but it was so overwhelming and exhausting – I had some really rough days. My family became my biggest support system. Honestly, if it weren’t for them I think I would have given up long ago.
My cancer came back a couple times, but after being declared in remission in 2006, I decided to dedicate my time to being an advocate for raising awareness about ovarian cancer.
Five years ago, I started The Catherine Wyche Foundation; in honor of my mother and as a way to raise awareness and educate people about ovarian cancer. We put on health/awareness events and fundraisers throughout the community. The funds raised provide support for patients and families in the Charlotte, NC area who are affected by ovarian cancer. Funds also help support research efforts in the early detection and prevention of ovarian cancer.
Three years ago, I started feeling really sick again. I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation – which means my lifetime risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer is greatly increased. My doctor basically said if I wanted to be around for my kids I needed to make some big changes to my health.
So last fall I began my journey - I started seeing a nutritionist, working out 5 to 6 days a week with a personal trainer and taking hip hop dance classes! As a result I’m no longer on any medications, I lost weight and I’m probably the healthiest I’ve ever been.
These are my passions now - maintaining my health, sharing my story, and being an advocate for people who are facing the same fight against ovarian cancer.
Follow the Catherine Wyche Foundation on Facebook.