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Janice’s Journey: Living with Cancer for Over 19 Years

By May 11, 2021June 14th, 2021No Comments

My husband and I had been trying to have a baby since the birth of our son in 1999. By 2002 I had already had three miscarriages, and in February of 2003, we learned that I was pregnant again.

During the years leading up to this pregnancy, I suffered from consistent, painful, large ovarian cysts on both ovaries. Each cyst would typically only last a month or two and then rupture. However, when it was discovered that I was pregnant again and at nine weeks, via ultrasound, a large cyst was present. If it continued to grow, we would evaluate the risks of removing it. At my 12 week appointment, the baby’s heartbeat was confirmed, and our doctor suggested that we see a genetics counselor with this pregnancy. At 14.5 weeks we went in to see our new doctor, and they performed an ultrasound to determine what, if anything, needed to be addressed. It was then we knew immediately that something was wrong. Our baby boy had died.

It was discovered that a mass had grown to the size of a deflated soccer ball. The mass was so large that it was determined that the blood our baby needed was being fed to the tumor instead. We scheduled another surgery to remove an ovary. We knew the risks of wanting to grow our family, but we were willing to take them. I was back in the operating room within a week and it was determined that the ovary and fallopian tube had to be removed along with some testing of lymph nodes, etc.

The road to recovery, in the first few years, was hard. From 2003 to 2010 I had multiple surgeries. We had also been through fertility treatments, and I was unable to get pregnant after the first ovary was removed. My remaining ovary was not functioning properly, and I would never be able to get pregnant For my health and sanity, my husband and I made the decision in 2007 for me to have a full hysterectomy. This was a very hard decision but only made after another cyst was discovered on my right ovary that looked suspicious. After the hysterectomy, I had a scare in 2010 with what turned out to be a 3cm x 2cm inclusion cyst behind my colon that was thought to be a reoccurrence of cancer. Since 2010 I have had no issues!

My husband Chris has been my rock. He stood by my side during all of this and continually would say ‘whatever you want to do, we will face it head-on, together.’ Our son was so little during most of this, but during my 2010 surgery when he was 11 years old, he was so sweet and loving, which really sustained me. My mother, a breast cancer Survivor herself, has and always will be my person. My in-laws and aunt have also been an amazing support system.

To help educate people, every September I launch a social media awareness campaign. I want other women to realize that taking care of their bodies has to be a priority. So often we forget about ourselves until it is too late. I sometimes think, had I not been pregnant, I may have not caught the cancer in its early stages. I learned a tough lesson in May 2003 to never ignore your body. Know the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer; it might just save your life.

Janice F.

Tiff lives in Richmond, VA with her wife Beth, and their cat Luna, and dog Bert. Tiff loves the outdoors and during the pandemic has been exploring national parks, finding new bike trails, and trains to improve her prior-year NOCC 5k race time. Tiff proudly placed as the first female overall finisher in the 2020 virtual 5k!

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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