Celebrating life and motherhood

Family celebration lunch: 8 years ovarian cancer free.

Eight years ago on June 22, 2005, I was undergoing surgery to remove an ovarian tumor. A surgery that I wasn’t sure I would walk away from and still be able to conceive children one day.  But God saved me, and the doctors only took one ovary. Today, I am celebrating life and the miracle of motherhood. Thankful, doesn’t even describe how I feel. I feel incredibly blessed and humbled and in awe of God’s greatness. Corbin and Lynley are beautiful gifts, and I will never forget what Derrick and I have gone through to get to this point in our lives. I cherish every moment that I get to spend with my little family, knowing that this may never have happened.

I was 19 years old, and I had just completed my first year of college when I was diagnosed with a mass on my right ovary. I was naive. I had no idea that what was wrong with me was cancer even though I was seeing one of the top gynecological oncologists in the world at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. I thought, there is no way this is cancer. But it was. Thankfully, I was aware of the early symptoms, and my mom encouraged me to continue pursuing treatment, even when I thought I was feeling better. I’m not sure that I have ever truly thanked her for her role in my diagnosis. I almost cancelled the appointment that led to the discovery of the tumor, but my mom made me go! She helped saved me. Thank you Mom.

The next few weeks after that appointment were a whirlwind. I remember meeting my doctor in Houston and her discussing that the tumor was the size of an orange. I would need to have surgery immediately, and was scheduled for less than a week later. I think my mom told me that the surgery lasted about six hours, maybe eight? Much of that time was spent on waiting for the lab to say yay or nay on the tumor being malignant. Just one week later, it had grown from the size of an orange, to the size of a grapefruit! My doctor was so sure that it was benign, that she actually started closing procedures, only to have the results come back positive. She then had to explore my lymph nodes, my abdominal cavity, etc. Thankfully, there was nothing to find! The tumor was confined to the right ovary, and that is all I lost. No radiation, no chemotherapy.

I am a survivor of Stage1A Ovarian Cancer, and early detection is what saved my life. Can you imagine how many lives could be saved, if there was more awareness about ovarian cancer? About 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with the disease each year. It is usually diagnosed in advanced stages, and only about half of women survive longer than five years. About 25% of ovarian cancers are found early. Those women have a 90% or greater chance of surviving longer than five years.

In 2009, I started an online awareness campaign about ovarian cancer. Please visit Feeling Teal to learn more about signs and symptoms and early detection methods. Want to help us win the fight against what has been deemed “the silent killer?” Like Feeling Teal on Facebook to show your support, and come join Team Feeling Teal at Austin’s Annual National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Balance 5k or make a donation under our team name by visiting this link.

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  1. says

    Oh I remeber the day very well…I was panicked for the whole 8 hours wondering why it wad taking so long and no one would give me any information. But thankful my worst fears did not happen…I was soooo excited to see you in recovery…even though all you did was scream at me for wanting to hug you… no harm though. I am so glad you have your babies and that you are so passionate about spreading the word about ovarian cancer. I will join the fight with you forever because I am lucky enough to still have you. I LOVE YOU SOOOO MUCH TEFF!!! :-)

  2. says

    It was divine intervention pushing me to not let you go on without further testing. God, Justin, and a mom’s intuition guided me that day to get you to a doctor and not let you go any longer. Wow .. what a whirlwind it was .. remember sitting outside Dr. Sherman’s office talking about the “fish story” of your tumor? First week it was the size of a golf ball, next test a few weeks later the tumor was the size of a baseball and when we reached Dr. Brown’s office a week later it was the size of a grapefruit or an orange. (I don’t remember which, I think a grapefruit) We kinda joked about the growth because at the moment we didn’t know it was cancer. That was not even a possibility to us. I AM SOOOOO THANKFUL for amazing, brilliant doctors that took care of you.

    I told you then I see you with a daughter and thought there was a boy around there too. And Katrena … Steffany made me promise on my life and hers that if she made it through the surgery, I would be the first one to reach her and tell her she didn’t lose both ovaries. And I agree .. she was kind of a bear at times. Steffany, you are the worst patient. Just you wait my little pretty .. here comes Lynley with a cold and CRANKY! Katrena .. it will come back to haunt her .. hahahaa

    I am soo proud of you for starting an online awareness drive. I am proud to be a member and join you in the fight to save lives.
    I feel soo blessed to have amazing children and now grandchildren in my life. With all we have been through, it’s time for some sunshine.
    I love you Steffany Valene …. MUCHES and BUNCHES!


    • says

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA ….. Of course she is !!!! HAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHHAHA I mean look how sweet she is .. eating Corbin’s toes, slapping him in the face … OF COURSE SHE IS A PERFECT ANGEL ….. HAHAHAHAA
      (poor Corbie) heehee

      They both are ADORABLE and SWEETHEARTS! —–> Look at those innocent faces —–>

      (Still … just you wait my little pretty …. )


  3. says

    Such an amazing thing and so glad that you are experiencing motherhood! Happy to donate to your cause!

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

  4. says

    Wow, it was discovered in stage 1? That is truly amazing and a blessing. and now you’ve been twice blessed with twins! How fun. I always wanted twins but it never happened, but that’s o.k!

    My brother is a cancer survivor as well. His daughter was in a coma for quite awhile and so he ignored all his symptoms. His was stage four but he’s still in remission and doctor’s believe he’s cured! Thanks for linking up to “Making Your Home Sing Monday!”

    • says

      Yes, it was amazing that we found it so early. I still look back and think how easily I could’ve just ignored my symptoms. Grateful for a loving God, who somehow “spoke” to my mom, and she urged me to continue pursuing medical attention. Very blessed!

      Congratulations to your brother for beating his cancer! That is amazing that he was cured from stage four. I hope his daughter is ok now.

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. says

    Hi Steffany, I can’t even begin to imagine what you went through. But I know that it takes a lot to overcome this huge hurtle. Thanks so much for sharing your story and encouraging mothers everywhere! We are so blessed.