Team TEAL athlete, NOCC Long Island member, and passionate advocate Julie shared her ovarian cancer journey with us in her original blog post in 2020. The NOCC was excited to catch up with Julie for our 30 Years of TEAL Stories of Inspiration Spotlight and hear about another goal she has accomplished – completing the Empire State Ride for Team TEAL!
National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC): How has your health been since completing your treatment in 2020?
Julie Salazar (JS): Since my bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and hysterectomy, my physical health hasn’t been this strong since I was in my 20’s. It’s a crazy thing when cancer is removed from your body. The disease affects so many of your physiological systems that once it’s gone, your body operates as it should. For me, it operates at a level that provides me unlimited energy and vitality.
NOCC: Since completing your treatment, have you benefitted from any support or quality of life programs?
JS: Most definitely. The Long Island Chapter of the NOCC has been such a big help, and Team Teal. I needed emotional support in 2021 as I re-entered my life as a survivor. I had no idea that I would be a different person coming out of cancer, and in return, other people would treat me differently. Having online group support meetings with women on the other side of NYS was amazing and just what I needed. I live in such a remote area of NYS; I would have been alone going through my 1st year of survivorship. Seeing my Teal Sisters online every month is exactly what I needed to emerge as a stronger woman coming out of my cancer treatments and surgery in 2020.
NOCC: What advice do you have for someone who has been newly diagnosed?
JS: Research wisely and listen to your intuition in choosing the oncologist you want to take care of you. Manage your internet searches, or you will go down into the abyss of the internet about your subtype of ovarian cancer and start digging your grave. It’s hard not to research your disease, but try and stay off the internet. If you find the right oncologist to take care of you, the office will have great resources for you as well as a robust web portal where every question that pops into your head will be answered within one hour. Finally, just Breathe. Take deep breaths. Meditate.
NOCC: You mentioned in your original blog post that you’ve “become an advocate for women to document new gynecological symptoms and events.” Can you share any updates in this area?
JS: I’m a freelance writer for https://advancedovariancancer.net/author/juliesalazar. I was hired in March 2021 to write articles on chemo, surgery, side effects, and sharing info about the NOCC. I also share my story and GYN advocacy for women on Facebook. I do FB lives and spread the word about the NOCC any chance I get.
NOCC: Utilizing your passion for athletics, you recently completed the Empire State Ride! How was your experience riding for Team TEAL and raising ovarian cancer awareness?
JS: During the Empire State Bike Ride, I got asked every day I wore the Team Teal jersey what the NOCC stands for and why I was wearing the jersey. I was able to educate women every day while I rode my bike. It was amazing. The bike tour was seven days long, and there were over 230 riders. It was a lot of exposure and a lot of great one-on-one conversations. I loved it. It was bittersweet when someone walked up to me, telling me how inspiring it was that I was riding as they lost a mother, sister, or daughter to ovarian cancer. They loved that I had the courage to come out and ride all seven days.
Julie was diagnosed with Stage 2 ovarian cancer and Stage 1A endometrial cancer in 2020. She was declared disease-free in December of 2020 and is enjoying watching her hair grow back. She lives in Clayton, NY, with her wife and 2 rescue dogs. Her fitness goal is to complete the Empire State Bike Ride in 2021. You can read her original blog post here.