Ovarian Cancer Survivor Stories

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Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer Fighter Works in Oncology Department Helping Others

ovarian cancer fighter

Favorite Quote

“Cancer is a word, not a sentence”

This is the inspiring story of Cathy Amenta who is fighting with stage IV ovarian cancer since 2015. Despite all the hurdles brought by the cancer in her life, she doesn’t let it define her life. She is now working in a local hospital in oncology department helping others. In June of this year she will be obtaining the certification in Oncology massage with Tracy Walton & Associates and will be focusing mainly on this modality. She says, “It’s wonderful to give back and support my fellow cancer survivors in this way”.

The Diagnosis

“I was diagnosed with stage IV Ovarian Cancer in March of 2015. I had no real symptoms until I started having incontinence issues, which sent me to the doctor”.

The Journey

ovarian cancer fighter's journey “It was shocking to be told I had cancer. I am extremely healthy and fit. I ate and did everything right. At first it was a real roller coaster ride, going through the entire gamut of emotions. I was given a 12% five-year survival rate. I have gone through chemo treatments twice and was cancer free for almost two years. I am now on a targeted oral chemo that is working great. My numbers are good and I have had minimal side effects. I am beating the odds and God willing, plan on being around for a while”.

Biggest Hindrance

“My level of fatigue has increased. Making it difficult to do many of the things I use to do”.

Motivation to fight cancer

“At 52 years old I still have a lot of living to do. Skiing, hiking, and biking with my partner Bill and my pets are what I am living for”.

Message to other Fighters

message for cancer patients “Never give up hope. I have taken away these three insights during my cancer journey. They are: – Life is not fair – There are no guarantees – And none of us are getting out of here alive, so make the most of the time we are given”.

Ovarian Cancer Survivor Runs an Online Support Group

Ovarian Cancer Survivor Runs an Online Support Group
“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” -Carl Sagan

Nora McMahon was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on March 17, 2015. She has successfully defeated her disease. She is helping others and runs the website “cancergrad”.

The Diagnosis

“March 17, 2015 (St. Paddy’s Day- lucky me) was my official diagnosis (in surgery)”

The Journey

Ovarian Cancer Survivor's Journey
“After several months of persistent bloating in my lower abdomen, weight loss, loss of appetite, frequent and urgent needs to pee and constant exhaustion, I made an appointment with my PCP. She examined me and ended up fast tracking me to get an ultrasound, and eventually a CT Scan, as well as referring me to a gyn-oncologist. At my initial consultation, my gyn oncologist reviewed my CT Scan image, which showed a giant mass that had grown in my lower abdomen. He told me that he suspected that it was ovarian cancer and scheduled me for a hysterectomy/oophorectomy and de-bulking surgery. During my 8 hour surgery, my gyn-oncologist confirmed his suspicion and staged me at 1c3 ovarian cancer. He removed my reproductive system as well as two tumors- one the size of a grapefruit and one the size of a volleyball. Both of my ovaries were cancerous, one ovary had one type of cancer, the other had a different type of ovarian cancer. Following my surgery, I went through 4 months of aggressive chemotherapy.”
 
Motivation to fight cancer
 
“I don’t like to think of my cancer journey as a “fight”, but more as a set of circumstances to try to overcome in whichever ways I saw fitting. Not every person who is diagnosed with cancer gets to “beat” it. The fight narrative insinuates that if patients “fight” hard enough they get to “win” their “battle”. I don’t know of one person who has died from their diagnosis that hasn’t done their best to become a person who heard that they were in remission. My motivations were the many people that I love, as well as my lofty dreams and goals. The idea that I might not get to experience the many things that I’d like to really unsettled me. No one likes to think about their impending mortality, but it became an enormous motivation for me to get clear on what I want in my short time on this earth.”
 
Biggest hindrance
 
“I’m very fortunate in that I had access to exceptional care and had doctors that listened to me and took me seriously. Outside of that, my prior insurance company (BCBS of IL) tried to eliminate my insurance plan through a loop hole in the system less than a month after I finished chemo. They dropped all of the network hospitals within a 50 mile radius of my care team. I was locked into a plan with a high monthly premium and that had dropped my entire care team (meaning I’d have to pay 100% out of pocket), or find an entirely new care team over 50 miles away from where I lived. I ended up moving out of state, and found an excellent care team (and a new insurance company) where I reside now.”
 
Message to other cancer patients
Message for cancer patients

“Be body aware. Ask lots of questions. Find a care team that listens to you. Find a cancer community to connect with- cancer can feel incredibly isolating. Protect your peace- create boundaries from the people that drain you. Focus on what you can do, not what you cannot. Be kind to yourself. Honor your emotions, and know that you can still find moments of joy even in the worst times of your life. Delegate tasks for people who want to help, and allow yourself to receive/ask for help (I’m still learning this one!). Understand that grief is not linear. Above all, know that you are not the sum of your parts, your hair or your body. Your spirit is something far greater.”

Ovarian Cancer Survivor Now Runs Youtube Channel On Weight Loss

Ovarian Cancer Survivor Runs Youtube Channel
“Invictus Animus Est “ It is Latin for unconquerable soul.
Kristen Cuttill was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The type of ovarian cancer was IA Mucinous Adenocarcinoma. She has successfully defeated her disease. Now, she runs a YouTube channel and shares her journey of weight loss.
 
The Diagnosis
 
“On Saturday, January 14, 2017 my life took an unexpected turn. I awoke that previous Thursday, January 12, with a sharp, stabbing pain in my lower abdomen, mostly on the right side. My immediate thought was my appendix. I shifted position in bed and the pain eased up a bit. I was not fevered, or showing any other outward signs that anything was wrong, so I got ready for work and figured I’d bring it up to my doctor, as I had an existing appointment that evening. At work that day the pain nagged, it wasn’t as pronounced but never quite went away either. At my appointment that evening, the doctor felt my abdomen, told me I showed no outward signs of appendicitis, and that I should go to urgent care if the pain got any worse. The following day, the pain had made it difficult to rise from a seated position without gasping and having to catch my breath for a second so I went into urgent care. They did a urine test to check for infection that came back normal. Once again I was told I showed no signs of appendicitis, was told it could be a cyst. That doctor even suggested it could be a muscle pain and told to call the following Monday, to schedule an ultrasound. I left frustrated and exhausted. I woke up Saturday morning fed up with being brushed off. I told my boyfriend we needed to go to the Emergency Room, I wanted some answers. They did a CT without contrast. After almost nine hours the doctor came in and told me they saw a “good sized” mass in my pelvic region. I was terrified. He couldn’t tell me what it was, and was being very elusive about the actual size. They did two types of ultrasound, still no one could tell me what this mysterious mass was. I was told I would definitely need surgery, and it would need to be sooner than later. I was in shock. The ER doctor followed up with my Gynecologist and I went for an appointment to discuss the findings on Monday January 16th, 2017 My gynecologist was wonderful, she explained that if she felt it was cancer, she would have to refer me out to an oncologist to perform surgery. Otherwise she’d do it and it was going to be a pretty invasive surgery. Laparoscopy was not an option due to the size of the mass, it would have to be an open surgery, and a six week recovery. I was so scared. She called me that following evening to inform me in her opinion, and a normal result to the CA-125 blood test, that she could do the surgery. I scheduled the surgery for January 25th, 2017. It went relatively well although I was under for about 45 minutes longer than they anticipated. I was in the hospital for four days. It was a very confusing and painful four days. The preliminary pathology came back as “borderline”, so that we took as good news. I was released on Saturday, and went home sore, exhausted, and ready to get my life back on track. My appointment to have my staples out was February 2, 2017. It was at this appointment when everything completely changed. As the doctor filling in for my doctor, who was sick, was removing my staples, I mentioned that I had not yet gotten my pathology results back. She said she had them and we’d discuss. I knew immediately something was wrong. She gave me the news. The tumor was sent to Mayo Clinic for further tests. The actual size was 14.5 cm x 13.5 cm by 7.5cm and it weighed nearly two pounds. It was also Cancer. Stage IA Mucinous Adenocarcinoma. My eyes welled. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. “It’s cancer?” I asked her. She said yes it was, and a rare one, even rarer for a 36 year old otherwise healthy woman with no family history. She explained the staging and the reports and what might come next. I just sat there and held Dan’s hand and cried. I was given two names of oncologists, so I could get more than one opinion (and I did). I gave the news to family and friends on the car ride home, and explained to my 15 year old son that evening. I was in disbelief. We all were.”
 
The Journey
Ovarian Cancer Survivor's Journey

“After meeting with two different oncologists, it was determined that I need to have a complete hysterectomy followed up by chemotherapy (carboplatin and paclitaxel) due to the sheer size of the tumor, and the presence of anaplastic cells which grow quite rapidly. On March 7, 2017, I underwent a robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy, unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (right side), omentectomy, and removal of pelvic lymph nodes for biopsy. Less invasive, maybe. Less painful, certainly not. Recovery was delayed due to developing MRSA and an additional three-day hospital stay. I began chemotherapy on April 6, 2017. In May, I had an intraperitoneal port surgically implanted in my abdomen, which is not a common practice, and was frankly, miserable. I gained weight, lost all my hair, even my eyelashes. The pain in my bones and joints was intense and awful, I did not know bones could cramp, but they can appear. Each chemo session was from 8 am to 3 pm three weeks a month, one week off for the doctor visit and recuperation. I did somewhere around 12 sessions total, maybe more. I still tried to make the whole process as painless for everyone around me as possible because I felt like such a burden. Being weak is never something I’m okay with. During chemo, on Memorial Day weekend we drove to Tennessee so my son could see real mountains. Despite my pain and increasingly foreign feeling body, I managed to climb down and then back up one of the mountains to show him a natural waterfall. He told me I was a rock star, even though I felt like I was going to collapse. I kept pushing along even though all I wanted to do was sleep. I began having some pain on my left side and learned had developed a seroma on my colon and had to have that drained. Due to that my oncologist said I could stop treatment since it was nearly concluded, my last chemotherapy was August 3, 2017. I also had genetic testing done, to determine whether or not I carry a gene mutation that would make me highly likely to develop cancer of the ovaries, and also breast cancer. The BRCA gene. A damaged BRCA gene in either location can lead to increased risk of cancer, particularly breast or ovarian in women. A BRCA mutation is a mutation in either of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are tumor suppressor genes. As it turns out, I do have the PALB2 gene mutation. The PALB2 gene is called the partner and localizer of the BRCA2 gene. It provides instructions to make a protein that works with the BRCA2 protein to repair damaged DNA and stop tumor growth. Women with an abnormal PALB2 gene had a risk of breast cancer that was 9.47 times higher than average. Women with an abnormal PALB2 gene had a 14% risk of developing breast cancer by age 50 and a 35% risk of developing breast cancer by age 70. During chemo, I gained about 50 pounds. I have battled my weight all my life and I was so miserable. I wanted to LIVE my life when I got better. On March 5, 2018 I had Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery. Having excess weight on me made it difficult to notice one main symptom or Ovarian Cancer, a bloated belly. It was time to get healthy for real and get to living my best life. I’m a cancer survivor, a trauma survivor, a bariatric patient and an advocate for mental health. I documented my cancer journey from diagnosis on, and I make new videos every week about my weight loss adventure. I invite you to follow me on Insta at and YouTube.”

Motivation to fight cancer

“I am a survivor. I have always been a survivor. I was going to see my son grow up. I had not made through 36 years of struggle to only make it that far. No way.”

Biggest hindrance

“Aside from unexpected medical issues, I think worrying about the financial impact of all of this was the one thing I could not stop worrying about. No one expects for anything like this to happen and most people don’t have a backup plan, myself included.”

Message to other cancer patients

Message for cancer patients

“All we can do is be vigilant. I want to share my story because I want women to be aware that this can happen to anyone! if this scares you, it should. If I look back, the symptoms were there, I just didn’t pay attention to them. If anyone takes anything from my story, it is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE. If you feel something is wrong, go get checked out and don’t let anyone dismiss you. We all lead busy lives, we have obligations, responsibilities, and stress. Your health is the absolute foundation of all these things. Take it from me, I saved my own life!”

Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer Survivor Says Find The Strength Within You

Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer Survivor

Makita was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016 but she didn’t lose her heart and fought back with all her might to defeat cancer for her lovely daughter.

The Diagnosis

“May 2016, I noticed a lump in my lower abdomen, after 4 months of seeing several different doctors I was diagnosed with stage 3b ovarian cancer in October 2016, after removing the 21 cm tumor.”

The Journey

Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer Survivor's Journey

“I felt so isolated. I was 19, a single mum living in a new city purely for treatment. I could only take each day as it came, but those days seemed to drag out as I had nothing or no one to distract me from how I felt. Walking through the shops I tried to ignore the looks of pity. I could hear the whispers; ” oh look at that bald girl, poor thing”. But by the end of it, I felt a new empowerment… a new strength. During the journey, I was able to really get to know myself and I found a confidence and strength I didn’t know I had.”

Motivation to fight cancer

“I had a 1 year old daughter, need I say more? In a matter of weeks, I lost my energy, I lost my hair and I lost the bounce in my step. I felt ill, I looked ill though she never looked at me any different. She didn’t see a change, I was just mum. And I was determined to not let it (cancer) alter my abilities as her mum; cancer had taken so much from me, I wasn’t going to let it take anything from my daughter.”

The biggest hindrance

“Not being able to admit I wasn’t okay. I felt I had to be strong the whole time when I just wanted someone to accept I wasn’t okay. And having to send my daughter away while I spent 2 months in the hospital, as I had no family close by.”

Message to other fighters

Message for cancer patients
“The low points in life make the highs feel higher! There is a strength within you, and it’s far more powerful than you thought, hold your head up and let that strength radiate into every day!”

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