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Stories of Inspiration

My Teal Story

By May 18, 2021June 14th, 2021No Comments
A middle-aged white couple high-fiving against a scenic mountain overlook

I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December of 2017. I had been having bladder and gastrointestinal problems for years and months, respectively. My stomach sporadically swelled up to where I looked pregnant until it remained permanently like that. A 51-year old looking pregnant!

When I finally was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I looked it up, and bingo, all my symptoms made sense. Like a case study in ovarian cancer symptoms! I had an oophorectomy, then had to wait six weeks for the full kit and kaboodle surgery. For six weeks, I figured I was stage III. Because by the time OC symptoms normally present themselves, it’s often late. But lo and behold, I was Stage I. Turns out the type of cancer I had, Endrometrioid ovarian cancer, is often caught earlier and younger.

All good, right? Well, exactly 2 years later, I felt a breast lump. Bam! Stage II breast cancer. (So strange to me to now, to have cancer that didn’t have symptoms beforehand.) I just got right down to practicalities – what do I have to do? Maybe because it was my second time around with cancer, or maybe because it didn’t feel like the death sentence the ovarian cancer diagnosis seemed, but I got right down to work. It turns out that breast cancer was to be much more challenging and extensive than my ovarian cancer treatment. At first, I was told I’d have a lumpectomy followed by six weeks of radiation. Okay, I thought, I can do that. And then, a final pathology result came in, and everything changed. HER2 is a protein found overexpressed in less than 20% of BC tumors. That, on top of hormone-positive receptors, meant my stage II cancer was very aggressive. Then followed 26 chemo and targeted treatments, 25 radiation treatments, and umpteen procedures for 15 months. Finally, oh happy day, on April 26, 2021, I will be considered cancer-free.

What do I have to say on the matter? I’m glad it’s almost over. I’m not one of those people who will tell you that cancer changed my life for the better. (I already had my priorities straight!). But I did come into a community of women who I would never have met otherwise. I’m grateful; so many of these women are now my friends. I also came out of this with new respect and appreciation for technology and science. It’s amazing what they can do nowadays! And last, I had so many opportunities to attend free seminars, dinners, receive gift packages, makeup sessions, complementary treatments, wig sessions, hairdressers who refused to accept payment, and so, so much more. There are truly giving people out there. I feel I can’t repay them all, but I pay it forward when I can.

YOU know your body better than anyone. Trust your instincts. For two years leading up to the diagnosis, I kept gaining weight, about 30 pounds. I KNEW I wasn’t doing anything differently; I was exercising and eating the same. I mentioned it to doctors, but for all, they knew I was at home chowing down on French fries and ice cream sundaes. Consequently, my blood pressure went up, and I was tired.

While this may be a blog on ovarian cancer patients, I’ve met several OC patients who also have BC. I was taught to do breast exams in the shower, not that I really did that much. My lump showed up when I was lying on my back one night in bed. I didn’t feel it after that. But a month later, I felt it again while in bed. Off to get a mammogram. After diagnosis, my surgeon and I did a test. When I was lying down, we could feel it. When I was standing up, it descended and couldn’t be felt. So my advice? Do breast exams on your back as well as in the shower.

Patricia Lieb

Patricia is a part of our NOCC Pittsburgh Chapter.

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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