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Stories of Inspiration

None of These Reasons Were Worth the Weight

By May 18, 2021May 26th, 2021No Comments
A masked survivor and her fluffy dog

“I’m a youth worker, and I eat like a teenager most days”…that was the go-to reasoning for my weight gain.
I found out in March 2019 that my increasing pant size wasn’t from too much pizza at the teen group but instead was from a large mass growing in my abdomen. 

I will always remember the gynecological oncologist asking THE QUESTION, “Has anyone told you how big this is?”

No one had. All I knew at that point was it was large and seemed very concerning to the medical professionals who had helped get me to that office to await the answer to THE QUESTION and many more. It was a mass that had caused a weird pain in my back and side, almost a dull ache. I had endometriosis and previous kidney stone issues, so I credited the feeling to one of those. I waved off my gradually decreasing range of motion, sure that it was probably due to being over 40 and out of shape.  

More than once, I have heard my doctors say that women especially have an uncanny ability to justify pain to keep going. But when ache gave way to increasing pressure, I made my way to a local walk-in clinic. I didn’t have insurance or a family doctor, but when the clinic staff called the next day and urged me to get to a primary care physician, they had phone numbers ready for local offices that could help.

I didn’t know what we were dealing with, but I knew when I picked up the test result CD that the nurse who handed it to me put her hand on my shoulder in reassurance which was welcomed but seemed odd for just delivering a disc.  A CT scan was next, and the techs at the hospital said 24-48 hours for results…when I was contacted in 2 hours by my new primary care physician on her day off, I began to understand the seriousness of the steps ahead. When she scheduled me to see an oncologist at “the other” large hospital, not in her network because she believed they could help me, the red flags were at full staff.

This brings us back to THE QUESTION, which was answered with a question: “Do you know how big a full-size basketball is?”

After that, many of the steps are a blur because they happened quickly, but they happened with precision as my new team of med professionals mapped out the best plan for my situation.

Two years later after:
-a hysterectomy, a 12lb mass removal, removal of my lymph nodes, an ovarian cancer stage 2 diagnosis, six rounds of chemo, a positive test for the BRCA 2 genetic mutation, and a double mastectomy- I am not quite 100%, but I am so grateful for any percentage I can get!

The combination of prayers and swears amongst my community of friends and family, along with the incredible work of medical professionals who dedicate their lives to knowing how to salvage ours, has made me a survivor. Ironically, all of these events have also removed what I initially thought was the cause (pizza and fast food) from my eatable foods lists. It turns out teen group can still happen!

As I look back, there are moments that I can recall when it seems my body was screaming at me to get to a doctor.  

I had a lot of very plausible reasons for not making that appointment: 
No insurance.
No doctor.
Previous medical issues.
Poor eating habits.
No exercise regimen.
Being at “that age.”

While I was justifying my wait,
Cancer was gaining weight.

None of these reasons were worth the wait.
None of these reasons were worth the weight.

Liz Hobb

“Sometimes, on this journey, we have to “do it afraid,” but we don’t have to live in fear. May we remember the hope that is found in our spirituality and our connectedness with one another.” Liz Hobb is an ovarian cancer survivor and the director of a youth access center in Indiana.

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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

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

30 Years of Courage

1991   

NOCC begins as a grassroots organization founded by advocates and survivors in Boca Raton, Florida

 1995   

NOCC incorporates as the country’s first national organization providing awareness and education about ovarian cancer.

1996   

The first national ovarian cancer information hotline is established (1-888-OVARIAN), now averaging 10,000 calls each year.

1998   

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.

2000   

NOCC and the ovarian community proclaim September as “National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.”

2002

The organization produces television PSA about early detection and distributes to 30 states.

2003

Ovarian.org received the Oncolink.com 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.

2004

NOCC launches “Body Image/Body Essence” art exhibit by sculptor John Magnan as a tribute to his wife’s journey with ovarian cancer.

2006

NOCC launches the “Break the Silence” national education campaign.

2007

The “Break the Silence” campaign reaches 100M impressions.

NOCC helps launch the first consensus on ovarian cancer symptoms.

2008

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.

2009

“Newly Diagnosed Patient Kit” is launched. DVD resource is made available in Spanish and Mandarin; 450,000+ pieces of literature are distributed nationwide.

2010

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®.”

2011

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.

2012

NOCC supports quality of life research with the GOG 0225, LIvES Study, which is ongoing and conducted by the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

2013

More than 4,000 Faces of Hope TEAL totes are distributed.

2014

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.

2016

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®.

2017

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. 

2018  

NOCC's signature Run/Walk Series is rebranded and Together in Teal® Ending Ovarian Cancer is brought to life in communities across the nation.  

2019

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.

2020

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.  

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

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