Young adults get ovarian cancer, tooMay 8, 2014
It’s World Ovarian Cancer Day, and we’re here to tell you young adults get ovarian cancer, too. This cancer type is very closely related to this month’s YACC theme of parenting and infertility, and we wanted to share a few stories of some awesome members of the YACC community who have been affected by all of it.
Amy Aubin didn’t expect to be diagnosed at the age of 23 in 2005. Her aunt was dealing with the same diagnosis at the time, and Aubin says her family almost didn’t believe someone her age could have ovarian cancer. Her treatment plan initially included a full hysterectomy, but a surprise pregnancy put things on hold. She weighed the pros and cons of delaying treatment for one shot at having a family, and chose to complete the pregnancy.
She ultimately had both ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, and says the toughest part about the whole experience is making peace with her subsequent infertility.
Aubin has been an active member of the YACC community over the past couple of years and has attended many events, participated in other cancer-related initiatives, and continues to tackle each day head on — even as she deals with the continued effects of her relapse in 2011.
Lareina Hui was diagnosed with ovarian cancer twice at the age of 25 within a pretty short time frame. She went to see her doctor in January 2010, and he recommended an ultrasound, which was scheduled for ten days later. Not satisfied, Hui went to the emergency room three days in a row until she was finally admitted with an operation scheduled for the next day to remove a tumour and hemorrhaging ovary. By March, she was declared cancer-free, so she quit her job to take some time to relax, but was rediagnosed in June. She had to undergo chemotherapy the second time around.
“I was devastated. I had a job that was paying for all my medical and now I had nothing,” she said. “[I was] accepted to UBC’s accounting program in the fall. My doctor said I couldn’t go… It was the one thing I was really looking forward to this year.”
Hui says she looks forward to being able to have a family some day, and advises other women to listen to their bodies. “I got sent home three times from the ER with a hemorrhaging ovary. And do your research. Understand what you’re doing, the drugs you’re taking and listen to how your body is reacting. I hate the steroid they give me, so I asked to lower/wean off my dosage. The doctors said ok.”
Read Lareina’s survivor profile from 2010!
BJ Whittle was studying in Florida in 2000 when she went to the doctor with a lot of pain in her abdomen. He initially gave her a few possibilities — the least likely of which was cancer, because she was “too young at 29 to have cancer.” She underwent emergency surgery which revealed she did indeed have cancer, but since it was in the early stages, the surgeon removed the mass and waited for pathology reports.
She was rediagnosed three years later, and her gyn-oncologist wasn’t sure if it was a natural recurrence, or related to the first surgery being performed by a regular gynecologist who may have missed something, and not a gyn-oncologist who was trained in cancer. This time, she had her second ovary removed, a full hysterectomy, omentectomy, and full staging to determine if the cancer had spread.
“This has changed me the most emotionally because having cancer at 29 really decimated my sense of invincibility, that feeling of having all the time in the world to do things. My sense of security was shaken because my own body betrayed me with this stuff growing inside. I’ve been working with several people over the years to learn to deal better with everything that I’ve been through and how to move forward in life after the challenges I’ve faced. I don’t have nearly as many “poor me” days as before but I do have to watch that I don’t push too hard and get too run down,” she said. “Trying to find Mr. Right is now much harder because he will have to accept that I have had cancer and I will never have kids of my own. I am okay with adopting or finding a pair of really cute dogs, but the no kids thing can be an issue with a lot of guys.”
Read BJ’s survivor profile from 2008!
Five key facts from World Ovarian Cancer Day
- All women are at risk of ovarian cancer
- Awareness of the early warning signs of the disease could save lives
- Diagnosis at an early stage vastly improves a woman’s chance of survival
- Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage.
- Many women mistakenly believe the cervical smear test (Pap test) will detect ovarian cancer
Make sure to visit the World Ovarian Cancer Day website for more very important information on these points!