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Stories of Inspiration

Using My Fire to Spark Change

By May 18, 2021May 26th, 2021No Comments
Young White female gently smiling in a pose for a portrait

I began having symptoms that something wasn’t quite right in my abdomen years ago.  I went to my doctor expressing symptoms of severe digestive issues and tiredness.  I described symptoms of abdominal discomfort, odd weight gain, and just a general sense that something was wrong with me.  I was given excuses such as, “You’re getting older. This is what happens as women enter perimenopause.”

One time I had such severe menstrual cramps that I had to call someone to pick up and take me home. “Wow… Perimenopause sucks!” I thought.

Fast forward to the winter of 2019. I had been having odd symptoms that made me wonder if I could have experienced a bladder or urinary tract infection. I was waking up at least four times a night to urinate. I could only walk my dogs where I knew I had quick, easy access to a public restroom. In addition to the frequent severe need to urinate, diarrhea was becoming a constant even though I was eating the most basic foods. There was an odd ache in my lower left abdomen that I had for years, but no doctor thought it was anything to be concerned with. In fact, I had scheduled my annual OBGYN visit for December of 2019 and got another “all clear.”

In late January of 2020, I awoke in the middle of the night with severe abdominal pain. I sat on the floor next to my bed…assessing. Left or right side? Other symptoms? Frequency?

But the pain subsided, so I carried on as though everything was normal despite feeling VERY sick. A few weeks later, I was scooping up rocks in a shovel when I felt “something” in my abdomen that shook me. “This is NOT normal.” I drove myself to urgent care, and it was there that a very large mass was found in what “used to be” my left ovary.

“It doesn’t look like cancer, but we won’t know for sure until surgery.” Two doctors said this to me. I thought, “Great! Let’s just get this thing removed, and I’ll get on with my life!” But when I woke up from surgery in April of 2020, I saw that the incision was up past my belly button. Debulking….” Oh sh*t…” My surgeon came in soon after. “Janice, I’m so sorry I have to tell you this through a mask and shield, but we did find cancer. The mass broke open upon removal…(I stopped hearing.) You’ll need chemo…(I stopped hearing again).

I was LIVID. Not at my doctor, of course. Not at the scar. Not at the diagnosis. I was LIVID because NOT ONE DOCTOR EVER SPOKE WITH ME ABOUT THE SIGNS, SYMPTOMS, AND RISKS ASSOCIATE WITH OVARIAN CANCER IN THE 50 YEARS I HAD BEEN ALIVE. Two weeks after surgery, I contacted the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and said, “PLEASE put me to work. I volunteer because NO ONE born with ovaries should EVER be denied education about this disease!!”

Their response was adorable.

“Thank you, Janice, but…we feel that you should contact us when chemo is done.” I had NO idea what was coming. I simply wanted to go to war with the lack of vital information.

Almost one year after surgery & diagnosis, I am on FIRE to reach as many persons born with ovaries as possible. With the support and blessing of the NOCC, I am reaching out to the people of my state, New Mexico. I have joined the New Mexico Cancer Council as well. I reach out to my community in any way possible. For example, I will be on an A.M. radio station speaking about ovarian cancer to anyone who will listen.

While I have the health to do so, I will fight the lack of information and support with every ounce of my energy.

The legacy I will leave behind will be the change that needs to occur regarding the silence we are treated with when it comes to ovarian cancer.

Janice Skidmore

Janice Skidmore is the owner and CEO of Write Mind Creative, a company she created and developed to provide affordable, customized, and quality branding and/or brand development as well as social media management for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and small businesses. She is Marine Corps Veteran, German Shepard fanatic, dancing freak, small business owner, solopreneur, and NOCC Volunteer.

Janice is on a mission to change the way ovarian cancer is sadly not discussed with OBGYN patients until after it is discovered. Therefore, she has started a petition to bring about a much-needed change. If so inclined, you can sign her petition here.

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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