Survivor Spotlight

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Michele



Tell your story of how you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed after having a CT scan done because of bloating and difficulty going to the bathroom, and severe pain. The mass was seen on CT then MRI. The diagnosis was not made until after surgery when I found out I had stage 2 endometrioid low-grade Ovarian cancer.


How have you celebrated your cancerversary?

I celebrate my cancerversary on the day I was told I had cancer (after surgery.) I wear teal and do something special that I enjoy.

What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed?

Advice to newly diagnosed is to take it one day at a time. This is not a death sentence. It’s complicated, do the research and Mentally prepare for decisions. Get a Second opinion. Join a support group. Keep moving!

What were you looking forward to most post-treatment?

After treatment, I looked forward to taking trips local and farther away.

How have you connected with other survivors?

I have connected with many survivors through OCRA conferences in many cities and online groups. Teal power!


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Becky


I was having what I thought was an overactive bladder. I saw my PCP and told her my symptoms. I am a LPN so she knew I knew medical things. With everything, I told her she started me on an overactive bladder medication. She told me that she usually did an ultrasound but my symptoms I guess sounded so classic she didn't. But, the medication didn't work. It got to a point where I had to wear a mini pad to prevent leaking. I felt something in my right lower abdomen but I played it off to being my bladder. One day I told my daughter to feel, who has no medical background, to feel SHE said MOM you need to go to the doctor. Well, I am a true optimist and really didn't feel anything was wrong. I went to my PCP and she immediately did an Ultrasound followed by a CT.

She was very concerned. I had had my pap smear the previous year and the internal exam which didn't find anything. Needless

to say after the tests she referred me to a GYN doctor. I had previously worked at Duke in family practice and had previous surgery on my left arm there. So, I called the Duke GYN oncologist and they told me to have my records forwarded to them. I was set up to see Paula Lee, MD on April 24, 2012, and had surgery on May 3, 2012. I had a pretty big mass that was 17.5 x 11 x 7 cm intact ovarian mass. My daughter said that Dr. Lee said several times that it was very stuck to everything else she did get it all but felt like there may have been a leakage in the process. I had 6 rounds of chemo, I had a f/u CT after Chemo, and have been cancer free since October 2012.


I handled all of this really well when I went for my first chemo. I started to freak out a little while waiting in the waiting room. My daughter could immediately tell she said, "Momma please don't cry" she said she was going to lose it too if I did. Heather, one of the other ladies that was waiting for chemo, saw me and came over and said if this your first session. She helped me so much. She has a Facebook page I am sure you are familiar with: https://www.facebook.com/SHOUTagainsttheWhisper


I did go to the ovarian cancer support group at Duke for a while and they were all awesome and I learned so much. I celebrate quietly every year and thank God every day. As a side note, my son was diagnosed with colon cancer in October 2021. I just lost him on June 17, 2022, and like so many others in this kind of situation, I prayed to God to give me cancer. I am 67 and he was only 45 with a 6-year-old child, so pray for all of us, please.


I tell my friends and family and post on Facebook the ovarian cancer symptoms and my symptoms of overactive bladder. I tell anyone that will listen how important it is to be checked. I tell my story to help others see that cancer isn't a death sentence and try to help anyone deal with cancer in any way they can. To me, the most important thing was to be comfortable and confident in my doctor. I didn't have to get a second opinion but I tell people if they think they should do it.


I have two really good friends that have had breast cancer with several recurrences. One now that has another type of cancer that is not curable but treatable. We try to support each other, she is so strong even on her bad days.


I have always wanted to live in the mountains. In January 2021 I was able to buy a little cabin in Mountain City TN, hich is about four hours from my kids in NC. I live life to the fullest and tell people to live each day because we are not promised tomorrow. I hope that I am an inspiration to others forever.


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Terri


Tell your story of how you were diagnosed.

I had most of the traditional symptoms - bloating, frequent urination, feeling full quickly, bowel changes, and spotting however, I was 54 and not in menopause yet, so I assumed that's what was happening. After quite a while of these symptoms, I felt a knot in my stomach. That started to grow so I finally got checked out. I met my gynecologic oncologist on a Thursday and had surgery the following Monday. She removed a 32cm tumor from my belly. We affectionately called it Alien Baby! August 3, 2015, was my surgery date, and that is the date I considered myself to be cancer free! My first memory is coming to ICU, and my doctor was patting my hand and saying "I got it all!"


Two weeks later the pathology would show that it hadn't spread, and I was diagnosed with Stage 1C endometrial ovarian cancer. I know it was a miracle that even at such a large size it was caught early stage. I had 6 rounds of taxol and carboplatin, once every 3 weeks. December 16 2015 was my last chemo!! As of last month, I am a 7-year Thriver!!


I went on to be diagnosed with three more unrelated cancers: stage 1 thyroid in August of 2016, MDS, a blood disorder in May of 2017, and stage 1A breast in June of 2021. I am a walking, talking miracle and grateful for every day that I wake up!! I am cancer free and doing well.

What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed?

As to advice for the newly diagnosed, I would say to have hope!!! H.O.P.E.= Have Only Positive Expectations. This became my mantra. I obviously had some tough days, but I did my best to focus on the positive. I really do believe that attitude has a great effect on our outcomes, for anything in life. Cancer is a drop in the bucket for all of the challenges that life brings us, and it is no longer the death sentence it used to be. Treatments have come so far. I listened to my doctors, but in my heart, I knew that they weren't the final say in my survival. I was!!! You can choose to live as a victim or a victor and look for the silver linings.

What were you looking forward to most post-treatment?

Post-treatment I was looking forward to just the normalcy of life, getting a break from all of the appointments and tests. That and having my hair, lashes and brows come back ;-)


How have you connected with other survivors?

I have 2 good friends that are both OC Thrivers, both with stage 3/4. We met at a hospital survivor event, and realized that we share the same amazing doctor! We are having dinner soon! We do our best to stay connected and check in on each other.

How have you connected with other survivors?

I have been blessed with a wonderful family and many friends who have all supported me on this crazy cancer journey!! I believe in giving back and that is why I am always happy to share my story. Tomorrow isn't promised for any of us, cancer or not, so live each day to the fullest!! It may sound cliche but it is true! Every day above the dirt is a gift!!!

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