Life Changes: A Survivor’s Story
It was the fall of 2004 and I detected a symptom that was unusual for me. I would feel a pull in the pelvic area after urination. It was not painful and I was not immediately alarmed. My primary care physician thought it would disappear as fast as it appeared.
While conferencing with a gastroenterologist in preparation for a routine colonoscopy, I mentioned the symptom. The doctor became alert to it and ordered a CAT scan. The test result showed an ovarian mass on my left side. After surgery I was diagnosed as a stage 1A ovarian malignancy. Neither my husband nor I knew anything about ovarian cancer. Because the cancer was an aggressive cell type, I underwent a post-operative regimen of chemotherapy.
This series of events set off changes in my life that carry on until the present. My husband, Tom, and I became involved in the ovarian cancer awareness movement while learning all we could about the disease. We attended seminars at NYU/Langone Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Center and other forums.
It was time to fight back. Tom and I carried on power point presentations on ovarian cancer awareness to any group that would have us-senior citizens, young people, you name it! I attended support groups to encourage others. I participate in a program about ovarian cancer with medical students at Rutgers UMDNJ. I was invited to join the Overlook Medical Center Community Cancer Advisory Board. Then came the toughest role-membership in and subsequent leadership of Kaleidoscope of Hope Ovarian Cancer Foundation, an organization dedicated to awareness and funding ovarian cancer research.
What does all this mean? It means joining with others with similar experiences to support each other with strength, confidence and a positive outlook. The best description of my message is the old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”