In 2018 I ran as a part of the NOCC team teal in the Philadelphia half marathon in honor of my cousin Lora who had ovarian cancer. Little did I know that I was giving to an organization that would ultimately give back to me.
I am 23 years old and I am a stage 3A ovarian cancer survivor. No genetic mutations ate healthily, exercised, did “everything right”. But I like to believe that I did everything right to prepare myself for this battle.
Back in January, I remember complaining to my boyfriend that I felt and looked bloated. At the time, I didn’t think much of it and was going to see if it would subside. Late January, I began experiencing abdominal pains that were enough to bring me to the ER. I knew something was wrong. I left with a “benign ovarian cyst” diagnosis and was told it would resolve itself in a few months. After a series of tests and the advocacy of my OB/GYN, I was told that something more complex was going on than just a cyst. I was referred to a gynecologic oncologist who scheduled me for surgery, to remove the abnormal mass in my body. Going into surgery, we still did not know if I had cancer or just a benign but complex tumor. One week post-op, I received my pathology results that said I had Low-Grade Serous Carcinoma. A million thoughts going through my head but the first one was, whatever I have to do, I will do it. I will do it successfully. From the start, I knew that whatever I had to do I would tackle head-on. I am still receiving treatment but after successful surgeries, I was declared “no evidence of disease”. We are currently working to remove any microscopic remains and prevent this from ever coming back again.
Looking back, I had appetite loss some days as well as bladder and bowel changes. These are all signs of ovarian cancer. The signs were there, whispering to me all along. We all need to listen to our bodies and advocate for ourselves. Always ask questions.
To anyone going through this diagnosis I want to let you know you are not alone. Cancer is tough, but we are tougher. Cancer unmasks strength you never knew you had. Be courageous in the fight. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and advocate for what you feel is right. Remember, we know our bodies best.
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford
Christine is an active 23-year-old who is a graduate student studying Physical Therapy. She loves to travel, hike, and run.