Skip to main content
Stories of Inspiration

Put On A Happy Face

By August 20, 2021No Comments

As far back as I can remember I always had some gynecological issues. Bleeding between periods, fibroids, and ovarian cysts. Throughout the years I had numerous surgeries to combat these things and was on medication, which to my dismay put on extra pounds.

In 2019 I was still actively teaching first grade. I taught for 26 years, and I was looking forward to at least two more years till retirement. Needless to say, I retired earlier than that. Covid 19 came around. Schools closed and were put on remote learning. It was so difficult for me as I learned all the new ways of navigating the computer to teach my students. It was the hardest thing in the world for me. Then towards the end of March, I had gotten covid myself. I was sick and kept calling my doctor, telling her how my temperature wouldn’t go down. I thankfully did not end up in the hospital, and many weeks went by, and I finally recovered.

Thankfully, I was still able to teach remotely without taking off for being sick. Additionally, covid somehow created inflammation in my stomach that caused me once again to call my doctor. This time she told me to come in. She examined me and said she didn’t see why a 61-year-old woman would have pain by her ovaries. To be on the safe side, she ordered a sonogram.

The sonogram showed masses by my ovaries. I was referred to a GYN surgeon who specialized in robotic surgery. He wasn’t even going to give me a CT scan, and I insisted because I assumed it was vital for him to see what was there. He said it was up to me because there would have been a camera on this robotic arm. When I told my son, he said, “Oh no, you are going to Memorial Sloan Kettering.”

I am sure that many wonderful hospitals handle cancer, but this is one of the best here in NY. I was so glad to have been able to get an appointment. A CT scan was done right away, and the next week, May 13, 2020, the day before my birthday, I went in for debulking surgery. It turned out I had stage 4b serous ovarian cancer. Not only did I have a hysterectomy, but my spleen, appendix, parts of my intestines, and lining of my stomach were taken out by the surgeon as well.

When I woke up, metal staples went from under my ribcage down to my crotch. Tubes were sticking out on both sides of my body, and I was told 28 lymph nodes were removed. I was in the hospital for five days, and due to covid, no one could visit. It was just as well cause when I’m not feeling well, and I just don’t want to be bothered or seen by anyone.

The nurses were so attentive, and the doctors that came in were terrific. I had the best care there that I could ever imagine. But they did say to me to try and get up, walk around the hallway. I am so glad that I listened to them. My right lung was partially collapsed due to an inserted tube, but I still managed to walk around that hallway. Soon I was zooming past the nurse’s station.

My son stayed with me when I got home to help me out. My sister, who lived in the next building, came over frequently to help me with laundry and cleaning. I was and am grateful to them both. I went through my chemo treatment of taxol and carbo, and now I am in partial remission taking Zejula (niraparib), a PARP inhibitor. I went through some rough spots until getting the proper dosage of zejula. However, this therapy so far is holding any cancer from growing.

Yes, my hair fell out, and I have three wigs. Now my hair is back, curly and gray, not straight and bottle brown as before, but it’s back. And what else is back is my smile. Through this all, I smiled. I saw the nurses, and I smiled, the doctors and I smiled, my son and my sister and I smiled. I smiled because I felt loved and cared for, and I am feeling good now.

I’m not perfect like I felt before, I have my days, but I’m doing great. I did retire, not only because of cancer, but the covid also made me nervous about going back to teaching. However, every day I wake up and hear the birds outside my window, I am grateful for the day, and I put on a happy face. If there is one thing that I learned from all of this, most healing comes from how you deal with things. I’m not saying I’m perfect. In fact, my sister will attest to that, but if you think positive and act positive, then positive things seem to come out of it. Things happen. It happened to me, but I’m moving on. I am not going back to work. However, I am volunteering in October to tutor young students in schools for reading and math. To help them catch up on what they lost during the pandemic. One thing I will do when I see these children is smile. Try it; it’s contagious. Wishing all of you all the best.

Erica Weissman

Make a donation

Contact us

Find a support group

Close Menu

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