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