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Stories of Inspiration

Cancer isn’t the boss of me

By May 14, 2021June 14th, 2021No Comments

This past July 2019, I was enjoying my summer vacation: lacrosse tournaments with my son’s travel team trips to the beach, fruity drinks with friends…livin’ the teacher life! This was going to be a great summer with my family and friends. I went in for my yearly physical like I do every summer. I told the doctor that I had lost about 10 pounds but my pants were tight (I was bloated), I had heartburn all the time, I felt like I was peeing way too often, and I was more tired than normal. She told me to eat more fiber, scheduled me for a mammogram (because as she pointed out…I was almost 40), did a breast exam, and sent me on my way. They saw calcification in my left breast and needed me to come back in for a magnified mammogram. The next day I felt a lump in my underarm so when I went back in I got an ultrasound as well. Apparently they didn’t like what they saw because a couple of hours later I was sent to get 2 biopsies and on July 16th at 11:30 am, while watching my son work out at the gym, I got the call I was dreading…I had breast cancer.

Over the next several weeks I met with a variety of doctors, got many scans and MRIs, had 2 more biopsies, and got genetic testing done. Then came the call from my oncologist that truly made my heart skip a beat…I not only had breast cancer, but I was also Brca1 positive, and I had stage 4 ovarian cancer (10cmX12cm mass in my left ovary) that has spread to my spleen, kidney, abdomen, and lymph node. I remember stopping my doctor in mid-sentence and asking her flat-out if I was going to die. I always thought stage 4 was a death sentence and here I was a single mom and only 39 years old. This couldn’t be happening to me.

I’ve been told many times that God only gives you what you can handle. It’s times like this that we learn how truly strong we are…I was going to beat this…Cancer wasn’t the boss of me… I would never let it steal my smile. Over the next 8 months, I had 6 rounds of chemo, lost my hair, had a full hysterectomy, got the lump removed from my left breast, and learned I was a warrior!!

With the expectation that my cancer will most likely return, I am taking 2 cancer pills to help keep both the breast and ovarian cancers from returning for as long as we can. I will also continue to be monitored: blood tests every month, either a breast MRI and a mammogram every 6 months, and a CT scan every 3 months. They call ovarian cancer the silent killer, but it’s not silent at all. It is there, we are just not listening carefully enough to our own bodies. Women and/or our doctors brush off the symptoms we are feeling. We need to change this…be our own advocate and get the message out that early diagnosis is the key to survival.

To my teal sisters, always remember, you are braver than you think, stronger than you seem, and loved more than you know.

Lisa Trupo

Lisa Trupo is a daughter, a sister, a single mom, a friend, a teacher, and now a survivor!! She lives in Damascus, Maryland with her 12-year-old son Jacob. In Jacob’s 7 years of football, wrestling, and lacrosse she has never missed a game or match and cancer hasn’t and will not stop her!

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Stages of Ovarian Cancer

Before ovarian cancer - healthy ovaries

Stage 1 - Cancer is confined to one or both ovaries

Stage 2 - Cancer spreads within the pelvic region

Stage 3 - Average stage of diagnoses is stage 3C; cancer spreads to other body parts within the abdomen

Stage 4 - Cancer spreads beyond the abdomen to other body parts


National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

Stages of Ovarian Cancer

Stage 1

The cancer is confined to the ovary or fallopian tube

1A - The cancer is confined to one ovary only

1B - The cancer is found on both ovaries

1C - One or both ovaries are found with cancer cells spilling out from the ovaries

1C1 - Accidental rupture of the capsule by the surgeon during surgery

1C2 - Rupture of the capsule occurred before surgery

1C3 - Cancer cells are found in the fluid of the pelvis/abdomen

Stage 2

Growth of the cancer involves one or both ovaries with pelvic extension

2A - Extension of cancer to fallopian tubes or uterus

2B - Extension of cancer to other pelvic organs

Stage 3

Growth of the cancer involves one or both ovaries, and the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis

3A - Microscopic cancer cells found in upper abdomen or lymph nodes

3B - Visible tumor found in upper abdomen less than 2cm in size

3C - Visible tumor found in upper abdomen greater than 2cm in size, including disease on the surface of liver or spleen

Stage 4

The cancer growth is widely spread throughout the body

4A - Cancer is found in the fluid around lung

4B - Cancer is found inside the lungs, liver or spleen

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

30 Years of Courage


NOCC begins as a grassroots organization founded by advocates and survivors in Boca Raton, Florida


NOCC incorporates as the country’s first national organization providing awareness and education about ovarian cancer.


The first national ovarian cancer information hotline is established (1-888-OVARIAN), now averaging 10,000 calls each year.


NOCC proclaims a week in September “National Ovarian Cancer Week,” with a declaration from President Clinton. “Walk for a Whisper” 5K Walk/Run is initiated.


NOCC and the ovarian community proclaim September as “National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.”


The organization produces television PSA about early detection and distributes to 30 states.

2003 received the Award from OncoLink, the first online cancer resource founded by University of Pennsylvania cancer specialists.

NOCC receives the National Points of Light award in celebration of the success and impact volunteers have made in their communities.


NOCC launches “Body Image/Body Essence” art exhibit by sculptor John Magnan as a tribute to his wife’s journey with ovarian cancer.


NOCC launches the “Break the Silence” national education campaign.


The “Break the Silence” campaign reaches 100M impressions.

NOCC helps launch the first consensus on ovarian cancer symptoms.


NOCC moves its principal place of operation and state of incorporation/registration from Boca Raton, Florida to Dallas, Texas.

NOCC advocates help to double Department of Defense funding for ovarian cancer research to $20M per year.


“Newly Diagnosed Patient Kit” is launched. DVD resource is made available in Spanish and Mandarin; 450,000+ pieces of literature are distributed nationwide.


The Faces of Hope® program and term “Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer” are initiated. 

Annual fundraising events are branded “Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer®.”


NOCC partners with The Dr. Oz Show to create his Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer® campaign.

Over 1200 newly diagnosed women receive NOCC’s TEAL PACKET®

The “Ann Schreiber Ovarian Cancer Research Training Program of Excellence: A study by Dr. Ruth Perets” is supported by NOCC with a $50,000 contribution.


NOCC supports quality of life research with the GOG 0225, LIvES Study, which is ongoing and conducted by the University of Arizona Cancer Center.


More than 4,000 Faces of Hope TEAL totes are distributed.


More than 575,000 pieces of education and awareness literature are distributed nationally.

NOCC affirms its commitment to research with the newest  initiative, collaborating with Stand Up to Cancer, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, and Ovarian Cancer Research Fund to support the “Ovarian Cancer Dream Team.”

NOCC is featured in the highly coveted showcase window at 10 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan.


NOCC reaches its milestone 25th anniversary.

NOCC becomes an official charity partner for the New York Marathon and launches its first platform for endurance enthusiasts across the U.S - Team Teal®.


Rejuvenate, the first event of its kind, is introduced by NOCC for survivors as a retreat experience centered around the mind, body and spirit; it later expands to a national series.

Not Knowing is Killing Us is launched as a hard-hitting national awareness campaign. 


NOCC's signature Run/Walk Series is rebranded and Together in Teal® Ending Ovarian Cancer is brought to life in communities across the nation.  


Team Teal®, NOCC's endurance platform, expands internationally with participants in Greece and Canada.  

Together in Teal® Ending Ovarian Cancer is hosted at New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a national historic landmark.


In response to the pandemic, NOCC introduces programming offering relief to women and their caregivers including home meal delivery, Comfort for the Soul, and online professional counseling through Comfort the Mind.  

Teal Hearts Network, a series of regional survivor support groups, commences in a virtual setting.

Together in Teal(R) hosts its first virtual experience, No Boundaries, and unites participants in 50 states and 9 countries.  

Signs and Symptoms

Ovarian cancer signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Back pain
  • Upset stomach or heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation or menstrual changes
  • Pain during sex