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Stories of Inspiration

From Active To Aching: My Road To Diagnosis

By October 22, 2021No Comments

I am a mother to 3 wonderful kids and a wife to a hardworking husband. At the time of my diagnosis, I was working from home doing Graphic Design & Photography and being a stay home mom. I loved to exercise, take my kids to the park, and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. As my neighbor would put it, we were constantly outside, and then there became a time where mom wasn’t outside playing anymore. So why am I soo exhausted? I would find myself sleeping in until 10 am on the weekends with my husband home, so why was I so tired after grocery shopping (my husband would have to put the groceries away as I sat exhausted)? 


I continually had stomach pain and lower back pain, hardly able to stand and wash the dishes. Finally, I went to the doctor emotionally unwell and was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. As months went by, and I still didn’t feel myself, I went back in for another check-up where I was told it was just constipation from what the x-rays showed. A couple more months went by, and I became worse but thought, ok, maybe this is 30. 


I was working a photo shoot and felt like I was so dizzy that I shouldn’t be driving. I would use the restroom and wipe to have a drip run down my leg after and thought, well, maybe I have a bladder infection. Long family walks were impossible. I would have to turn around as I had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t make it the whole way or have slight accidents. I started to look like I was three months pregnant. It became harder to breathe, and I played it off as my allergies and asthma. FINALLY, I gave in and decided I would go to a clinic 45 minutes away and tell them everything that had been going on for the past 6-9 months. The excellent younger doctor, who listened to everything I had to say and said, “your symptoms are very strange,” so she decided we would run every test we could, pregnancy test and STDs (which I knew was impossible), but we had to rule everything out. 


Once we completed, she was still baffled that nothing was showing up, so she sent me directly to an ultrasound. There is when they found a volleyball-sized cyst on my right ovary and a couple of smaller ones on my left ovary. Onto a surgical oncologist over 2 hours away was the next step. By this time, I was so exhausted and ready to give up. Meeting the oncologist was very scary. Am I about to find out I have cancer? How is this possible? I have a beautiful family left to raise with a 12, 8, and 3-year-old. My poor husband, how can I leave him in charge of EVERYTHING! (These are all the thoughts in my head as your trying to be strong and brave). 


The oncologist finally comes into the room. She does a quick check-up and feels and says, “wow, yep, this needs to be taken care of.” She then asked her nurses and everyone in the room to squeeze her into their surgery calendar TOMORROW. I was so relieved to have something being done finally. In all reality, I felt a sense of peace the morning I went into surgery. They drew some blood to check the levels of a certain tumor marker (CA125).  The test result showed the number was high which can sometimes indicate certain cancers like ovarian cancer.  Unknowingly, I wondered if I would wake up told I had cancer. Sure enough, the surgeon said we had to take everything – my fallopian tubes as well as my ovaries (complete bilateral salpingo oophrectomy), which I then knew was ovarian cancer. As I lay in a bed recovering, I was told that I would need to do six rounds of chemotherapy. I was diagnosed with two kinds of cancer: ovarian cancer (endometrioid, stage 1B, grade 2) and endometrial cancer (stage 1, grade 1). I am now onto my every 3-month check-ups with no evidence of cancer!!

Kelli Nimmer

Kelli is a mom of three who was diagnosed with cancer in her early thirties.

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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