In May of 2017, I had an episode of postmenopausal bleeding. My GYN saw me the same day and did a biopsy of my uterine lining in his office. A few weeks later, the results returned as atypical, and he scheduled me for a D&C. While waiting, I decided to get another opinion. My slides were sent to another institution and reviewed. The gynecologic oncologist called me and told me it was cancer, but they weren’t sure if it was ovarian or uterine. I’ll never forget that evening and the fear I felt hearing those words.
On July 5, 2017, I underwent robotic surgery removing everything that looked like cancer, it was tough, but I was able to go home the same day; that was the easy part. A few weeks later, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
I received four months of chemo while continuing to work as a Nurse Practitioner. The fatigue and neuropathy in my feet were the most challenging side effects, but I had a date to finish and a plan for a cruise after finishing. This kept me going. My youngest son was 14, and we had challenges with him in school. I do think family counseling offered some benefits.
The first recurrence was in January 2019. I had debulking surgery followed by four months of chemo. This round was a little more tolerable. In May 2020, I had my 3rd recurrence. Since then, I have not been disease-free, received more rounds of chemo, a PARP inhibitor, and was on a clinical trial for four months last year. I’m on chemo now. It wasn’t easy, but I retired in August of 2021. Working as a Nurse Practioner was part of my identity and was meaningful to me.
My family and friends have supported me through this difficult journey. I continue to do things that bring me joy, like traveling, eating out, and spending time in nature. My husband encourages me to stay engaged when I need a little push. Early on, I started wondering if women were living with and surviving ovarian cancer. I searched and found NOCC. They have been such an important source of support, providing all types of needed services and friendships.
For anyone newly diagnosed, I would encourage them to continue doing things that bring them joy, find new things they enjoy, and consider a support group like NOCC. Your family is also on this journey with you and can benefit from support.