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This is my second year participating for this cause that is so close to my heart. Due to COVID-19, the organization will not be holding a traditional run/walk, but instead, we will be using our voices and activism to spread teal across the country. Then on September 26, to kick off the day, participants will choose an activity that gets us moving. Then, the organization will broadcast online our stories and accomplishments.
In September 2017, I entered Memorial Sloan Kettering to have a very large tumor removed along with a total hysterectomy. Months prior to surgery, I tried to carry on with life as best as I could. I knew something didn't feel right because when I would lay on my stomach, I couldn't put any weight on my left side. I just ignored it. At that time, my daughter who has autism, was 8 yrs old and her needs came first.
That summer, my period was late. My stomach just blew up. I looked like I was 9 months pregnant. I made an appointment with my ob/gyn to see what was going on. Even she thought I was pregnant! She examined me and said that the mass was the size of a basketball. She scheduled me for a CT scan right away. The day I had the scan, the doctor called me that night. The news was not good. I had a mass about 20cm, but they couldn't tell if it was from my left ovary or it was coming from my uterus. The doctor was arranging for me to be seen by a gynecological oncologist. I was actually calm on the phone and the doctor even said she couldn't believe it. I said that I can't afford to lose it right now because I still have to tell my family and closest friends what was going on. Those conversations were not easy.
My mom came with me to see the gyn oncologist and they performed a sonogram. The mass took up the entire screen! My mother almost fell out of her chair. We discussed a game plan, but I still wanted a second opinion.
The end of August, we met Dr.Ginger Gardner at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Dr. Gardner really put me at ease by her warm personality. She gave me the game plan and we scheduled surgery for September 18th. It gave me time to get Shaylie settled with school. I was grateful that Shaylie was going to have the same teacher as she did the previous year, so I emailed her to let her know what was going on.
The day of surgery was emotional for so many obvious reasons. One big reason was it was going to be the first time that I was ever away from Shaylie since the day she was born. That morning was hard putting her on the bus. My mother and husband went with me to the hospital and my aunt was meeting us there. It was a very, very long day. I was in surgery for 9 hrs. It took 5 hrs alone to get the mass out, but it was taken out intact. They performed a frozen section on the mass. I was diagnosed with stage 1c clear cell carcinoma. I had both ovaries removed with a total hysterectomy. I didn't get out of surgery until after midnight. My mom already left to relieve my mother in law who was watching Shaylie. Mike and my aunt were still there. My aunt broke the news to me and stayed with me throughout the night.
During my hospital stay, I got such a tremendous support from my family, friends and even strangers. I needed that support so much. I was scared out of my mind. I was angry. Extremely angry. Since I didn't have a family history of ovarian cancer, the type of cancer I had was brought on by endometriosis. I suffered for many years with endo. I begged my ob/gyn to do a hysterectomy because I had no quality of life with endometriosis. She wouldn't do it. My request for a hysterectomy was in February 2016. At that time, she sent me for a sonogram and there was NOTHING! It just shows how quickly this thing grew.
October 2017, I met my other lifesaver, my oncologist, Dr. David Hyman. I was to have 6 rounds of chemo (Taxol & Carbo) every 3 weeks. Before my first treatment, since I knew I was going to lose my hair, I decided to shave my head. It was extremely emotional but cancer took enough from me, I was doing this on my own terms. Just giving cancer a big middle finger.
In November, I began my treatment. I had my mom by my side. My nurse was Maria and she was fantastic. They started the Benedryl & steroids first. My mom left to go get air and they started Taxol. Within minutes, I had a reaction. My chest was tight and it felt like I was being stabbed in my lower back by 2 hot pokers. My room was filled with nurses trying to stabilize me. My doctor was called in and he was trying to make me laugh. I told everyone in the room “not a word of what happened is told to my mother”. Eventually I did tell her and she's like “I'm not leaving you again”.
With each treatment, it took a toll on my veins. To this day, its still difficult to find a viable vein.
I embraced my new appearance. What a time to go bald in the dead of winter.
February 27, 2018 marked my final treatment and this time, my husband Mike came along.
In March 2018, I had my 1st CT scan post surgery & chemo and there was no trace of cancer.
To this day, I am proud to say that I am in my second year of being a ovarian cancer survivor.
Please help me support National Ovarian Cancer Coalition by making a contribution to my fundraiser and sharing this page with your family and friends. Every dollar I raise will advance National Ovarian Cancer Coalition's great cause! Additionally, you can ask me how you can get involved too.
Together, we can make a difference!