I wear many hats: wife, mother, grandmother, friend, aunt, and teacher. I am very active. I love being outdoors spending time with my family, friends, painting, and fishing.
I ignored my spotting three years ago. Four months later, I spotted again. Time to call my doctor to see if I should come in. I was told, “YES!” After my first consultation, doctors suspected ovarian cancer. I sought a second opinion at the urging of my family.
I consulted with another surgeon. After receiving my diagnosis, I was hoping it wasn’t pancreatic cancer because that’s really bad stuff… only to find out that ovarian cancer is right up there on the bad scale.
My treatment included three rounds of chemo, surgery, then three more rounds of chemo. I was done with this unpleasant episode, or so I thought.
About a year after my surgery, my disease started to progress. I was devastated. I pulled my head out of the sand and actively started searching for a clinical trial. I contacted a gynecologic oncologist who leads a trial I was interested in. She answered questions I hadn’t even asked. One thing she said caused me to see my disease differently. She told me, “Once ovarian cancer reappears, it may not be curable, but it is treatable, like diabetes.” This changed my outlook and gave me hope. This doctor took me on as a patient.
At the time there were no clinical trials I would be eligible for, so I talked with another oncologist who also didn’t have any trials for me—but he suggested a PARP inhibitor. It was successful for four to five months. Another six rounds of chemo held my cancer at bay, but did not decrease it.
Then, I decided to pursue another clinical trial. After much prayer and discussion with doctors, I decided on a trial that uses an immunotherapy along with an experimental drug. It’s working for me. The treatment is every three weeks. Nine treatments later, my disease shrunk by 72 per cent. I have an amazing medical team, and I believe it’s made a difference in my care.
During this journey, I have learned to be persistent and to advocate for myself, something my daughter kept pushing me to do.
My husband, family, and friends have been there every step of the way – even suggesting they shave their heads. I said no.
I am a woman of faith and believe in the power of prayer, of which I have many going up for me. My life is in God’s hand. So far, I have not found my expiration date. As my mom so often said, “I am among the living. I must live.”
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