|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.