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Stories of Inspiration

From Caring for Others to Caring for Myself

By May 18, 2021May 26th, 2021No Comments

In 2015, I was planning a wedding to begin a new chapter of my life. Not only was I preoccupied with planning a ceremony, but being a mother of two small girls and working full time, your symptoms take a back seat.

I was tired, very tired, like lying on a dirty floor, I don’t care, kind of tired. I went to my primary care provider (PCP), and they ran bloodwork. My PCP said I was a bit anemic and sent me on my way. So back to the grind I went, and after a few months, I started to have a bit of pain in my lower abdomen. I explained the pain away as something I ate, a stomach bug, or gas. After I was married, I thought it had been muscle pain due to playing volleyball at our outdoor ceremony at the park.

Suddenly, my story took a drastic turn. As the pain continued, the fatigue got worse, and I slept a lot. One day, after sleeping the entire day practically, I woke up to pain so unbearable that my husband and I went to the emergency room. The doctors there found a tumor the size of a football IN my ovary. I was referred to my obstetrician (OB), who explained that what I had was a dermoid cyst. Due to its size, my OB sent me directly to a surgeon that day. Later that week, I was scheduled for an oophorectomy (removal of one or both ovaries). The surgeon realized my condition was more severe – it was a rare form of germ cell ovarian cancer called an immature teratoma. This type of ovarian cancer grows very fast.  

 I was referred to a gynecological oncologist, and we agreed that a total hysterectomy would be best, as it would reduce my chance of recurrence. Once my pathology came back, I was diagnosed with stage IC ovarian cancer. I was prescribed four rounds of chemotherapy (three drugs were used – bleomycin, etoposide, and cisplatin). Those next four months were moments that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but I got through it with the love and support of family and friends. By February 2016, I was in remission, happy to put those horrible memories behind us.

 In October of that same year, I was at my twin nephews’ birthday party and began to feel pain again. I returned to the emergency room, where more tumors were discovered. I was sent to Magee-Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh for multiple biopsies. In addition to the biopsies, I had exploratory surgery to remove three tumors located in different areas around my abdomen and one on my appendix. My family and I waited for what felt like months for the pathology to return. Because I had already had chemotherapy and would not repeat the same treatment, we were fearful about what my next steps would be if it turned out to be cancer. In some cases, repeating the same treatment regimen can cause second cancers like leukemia. 

 Fortunately, we received the news we had hoped for. The three tumors were found to be benign (non-cancerous) mature teratomas. Moving forward, the concern was less about the potential of cancer and more about when and where these tumors might appear in the future, as these would require additional surgery.

 After five years of monitoring symptoms, bloodwork, physical exams, and CTs, I reached my five-year mark. I still have to be vigilant and make sure that I monitor for any symptoms, but I am hopeful that I can now turn a corner and put this chapter to a close. It’s hard to try not to relive each moment when seeing a new doctor, watching a commercial, or seeing a movie with someone with the disease. There’s a level of PTSD that comes from going through this disease. I feel that managing this should be a focus for physicians to help survivors. Sometimes when I question, “why me?” I remind myself that I fought and I won and that no matter what comes my way in the future, I know I will fight again.

 I’m a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend, a coworker, a coach, a fighter, and a survivor.

Olga Koroly

Olga is 41 years old. She and her blended family live in Pennsylvania.  She spends her time very involved in her daughters’ activities and enjoys hiking, nature, and all things animals.

She can be followed on Instagram @drag0nf1y44

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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