My cancer story begins after a long walk around my neighborhood in 2012 when I noticed I had terrible pain in my leg.
Many doctors’ appointments and CT scans later, I learned that I had ovarian cancer.
It took many appointments with many doctors to develop the treatment plan that was right for me. But, I was so lucky that I had a great relationship with my oncologist -- she made me feel so comfortable.
After a few appointments, my doctor suggested genetic counseling. My daughter, son and I went to the appointment and tests revealed that I was indeed carrying the BRCA mutation which explained some family history of cancer. After reading up on ovarian cancer, I realized I had all of the symptoms.
Not surprisingly, my daughter’s tests also came back positive for the BRCA mutation. She elected to have a prophylactic oophorectomy, a preventative procedure to remove her ovaries, and while being operated on doctors found she already had stage-2 ovarian cancer. I strived to be the perfect mother while raising my kids, and I was heartbroken to learn that I passed along this family history of cancer.
At that moment I made a promise that I would do something every day of my life to help other women learn more about this disease and raise awareness in the community not only to women but physicians too. It is with the strength of my husband, children and best friends that I was able to get through treatment and call myself a stage-4 survivor for the past 5-plus years.
My daughter is also now a 4 1/2 year survivor and works part time for an organization devoted to ovarian cancer awareness and education. We have helped each other through diagnosis, treatment, and most importantly carrying on with our lives. Even though living 90 minutes away from each other had its challenges during this time, we have both built a strong support network when we can’t be physically there for each other.
Between looking after my family and my advocacy work, my plate is full but so is my gratitude for being alive. For those who looking to connect with others or need additional resources or support, I strongly suggest visiting ourwayforward-oc.com
. The Our Way Forward program, which was created by TESARO with input from the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance, is a call-to-action that encourages ovarian cancer patients, their loved ones and healthcare providers to rethink how they talk about advanced ovarian cancer and the physical and emotional challenges that the disease brings.
I have a beautiful mother’s day card from my daughter that I hold on to that says on the inside “You’re a great woman, a great mother and a great friend and I hope that I can be the same.” I feel like with everything that has happened I still know that I did something right – taught my children a sense of family and a love of life.