We have 3 more divas to celebrate today! Cynthia a 11 year survivor, Sylvia a 9 year survivor, and Lisa a 2 year survivor. All these ladies share their journeys with us today and we are beyond thankful that they have. We celebrate you Cynthia, Sylvia, and Lisa. We think y'all are AMAZING!
Tell your story of how you were diagnosed.
In 2011 I went for my regular gynecology physical and was feeling fine. When she examined my abdominal area she said “what’s that?” Turns out she had found a mass. CA125 was done, elevated to around 90. Then CT scan showed a large mass on my left ovary. I was soon referred to Dr. Matt McDonald at Presbyterian Hospital, had surgery, and was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer.
What would you tell someone with a late-stage diagnosis?
Don’t give up, I never imagined I’d still be here eleven years later.
How has treatment changed since you were diagnosed?
I’m sure there are different chemos available but other than that the infusion process is about the same. I will say that one of the meds I’m taking at this time is an oral pill I take daily. This is my 5th recurrence, so I have been on quite a few different chemo drugs, achieving NED & stable breaks along the way.
Did you know that there are subtypes or different types of ovarian cancer?
What is something that you’ve done in your years since being diagnosed that you might not have done pre-diagnosis?
My husband & I have traveled much more.
How have you connected with other survivors?
Facebook closed groups, and the blessing of our awesome TEAL DIVA!!!
What does Teal mean to you in 3 words?
Faith, friendship & a way to give back.
I will be a 9-year survivor of stage 3c Ovarian cancer in November. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I went to my general doctor about not being able to lose weight and being fatigued. At the time, I was exercising 5 days a week for 2 hours each day, but his solution was to exercise more. Finally, at my insistence, he ordered an ultrasound of my gall bladder. The tech told me to go home and look up the word, Ascites. This of course fell on a Friday, so all weekend long, I was unsure if I had cancer or if my liver was failing. On Tuesday of the following week, I called my Dr and asked what to do as I couldn't sleep for fluid building up in my abdomen. He said to go to the ER and request a CT scan with contrast. After being there for almost 8 hours, the ER doctor came into the room and said "You have ovarian cancer and it's not good." and walked out. I was admitted to the hospital that night, and the next day I had 4 liters of fluid drained off me. The local oncologist that I chose to go with came to see me that afternoon. By Friday, I was seeing an OB/GYN oncologist at Emory in Atlanta. My surgery was the following Monday. They took all my female parts, my spleen, omentum, and part of my bladder flap. Then, 2 weeks later, I was having my first round of carbo and taxol. I forgot to mention that I had been to see my reg OB/GYN in May before being diagnosed in November. Since my original diagnosis, I have had 3 recurrences. So several different types of chemo and Avastin. I had to have a second surgery 7 years to the day from my first as it had spread to my lower rectum.
So far after this surgery, I have been able to remain stable. I have a few lymph nodes involved now that we continue to monitor. Also, I'm on an estrogen blocker, as my tumors from the last surgery showed that they were responsive to estrogen. I am Braca negative. I hope that I can at least remain stable until something new becomes available to late-stage survivors.
Tell us about how your ovarian cancer was diagnosed.
At my yearly GYN visit, my doctor felt a cyst on my ovaries and started the process of getting an ultrasound. I was "lucky" that my visit was moved from April to June in 2020 or else it might have gone undetected for another year
Where are you with your treatment now?
Almost 2 years out since my last chemo in 2020.
If could describe how you were feeling when diagnosed in 3 words, what would they be?
overwhelmed, shocked, numb
What are some do’s and don’ts for handling the whirlwind that came with a cancer diagnosis?
Do use the resources that are provided - from therapy to groups. Get a system in place that works for you- we did a huge calendar for all doctor visits and what meds to take on what days. This helped to not have to overthink what was going on that day. Do give yourself grace in what is to come - it is different for everyone and we all handle it differently.
Don't compare your journey to anyone else's
What advice would you give to anyone newly diagnosed?
There is a community waiting to help you, you don't have to do this alone.
What is one thing that you could not live without during treatment?
Water!!! Drink allll the water!!!
What were some surprising things that you experienced (good or bad) when going through treatment?
bad - how much hair loss would affect me
good - the love from family and friends that were there for me