Ovarian Cancer Survivor
I was diagnosed with Stage 1 low malignant potential Aden carcinoma Ovarian Cancer at age 24. I noticed my abdomen getting harder and bigger, but I didn't pay much attention because I thought it was due to my menstrual cycle starting with its usual symptoms again. I went to the bathroom frequently and gained about 10-12 lbs in one month so I consistently worked out everyday and ate very healthy, but still gained the weight. I knew I couldn't be pregnant. Quite often for about 6 weeks multiple times in one day, I had sharp pains throughout my abdominal area and lots of lower back pain in my lumbar area. I felt tired all the time, and none of my fat clothes would even fit me anymore. It was not until my abdominal cavity had felt hard, swollen and like I was 3 months pregnant until I noticed, "this isn't normal". I also had bleeding in my stool for about 6 months, on and off, and I didn't think much of it, but my doctor gave me a Colonoscopy and they found that it wasn't anything serious, just hemorrhoids, and they brushed me off that it was normal.
But I LISTENED TO MY INNER VOICE and GUT FEELING and said NO, I want further testing and they scheduled me for a CT scan, which revealed two 3-6cm cysts on both my ovaries. After that, I was sent to see a Gastroenterologist, which thought I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but because I voiced my concerns that it may be more, I said how about an OB-Gyn. He referred me to one and she diagnosed me with a Dermoid cyst and said we'll do quarterly trans-vaginal and pelvic ultrasounds on your ovarian cysts and keep an eye on them making sure they don't grow, take you off of birth control and worst case scenario is minor laparoscopic surgery. For 4 months I was kept a close eye on until she decided to do my surgery, when she found something more than she expected and call my cyst an "ugly tumor" and called her Gynecological Oncologist during my first surgery in April 2008 and then went in to see him, which wanted to do a complete hysterectomy and 6 aggressive rounds of chemo (taxol and carboplatinum), and no chance of saving fertility. Luckily, I was able to see 5 more Gyn Oncs and was treated at City of Hope and saved my left ovary, and didn't have to go through Chemo because I was caught in stage 1 and was able to go through fertility treatment. I also got a BRCA1 and BRCA2 blood test done to make sure I don't carry the gene and it was negative.
I am now 25 almost 26 in February and what I thought was a scary road, which still is, ended up being a happy ending because I knew I HAD THE POWER and as Fran says "BE STRONG" and I had the strength to get through this. Now I am going into nursing to become a Nurse Practitioner in Oncology and want to work at City of Hope. Please don't let anyone tell you that you are crazy for thinking you need further testing for your body. It is SOOO important that you are YOUR OWN DOCTOR and don't let anyone or any doctor say NO. You need to learn to keep pushing on even after many months or years of misdiagnosis and seeing dozens of doctors until you find the right one. I think this website is amazing and that Fran is doing an amazing job with getting Gynecological cancers awareness known.