Current Age (at time of profile):
How did you find out you were sick? What events led to the diagnosis?
I started getting sick in September 2003, I was very nauseous and just felt awful. I went through a lot of tests, a lot of hopeful “let’s try this,” kind of medications for things like ulcers, I had a false positive mono test. My white blood cell counts were very high, I was so sick that by the end of October I was not eating, I was starting to lose weight, and I had to quit both school and work because I was too ill to go. Things just kept getting tested with no results. In February I had a CT scan that showed a mass in my pelvis. Internal exams and ultrasounds later, it was discovered that it was my right ovary, and was 7″ in diameter. No blood, bone marrow tests, or anything came back as a positive for cancer, so right up until my surgery at the end of March, we didn’t think it was cancer. It wasn’t until I woke up from surgery that I found out I had cancer.
What year was it? What was your age at the time?
It was 2004, I was 22 years old.
What was your diagnosis?
Ovarian Cancer, some rare kind, epithelioid spindle cell tumor.
What are your career goals?
She wants to work with art and animals. Hopefully in a shelter or wildlife rehabilitation centre.
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
“Finally.” I was so relieved to finally know what was wrong with me that the rest of it didn’t matter. It was only later that I started worrying about everything else.
How did your family react?
When my mom told me it was cancerous, she looked like she was going to fold up and die. Imagine, your only child having cancer. My dad was stoic, but he couldn’t deal with it. Mom was the rock. Dad went through a lot privately that he wouldn’t talk about. My uncle always asks how I’m doing and is really concerned now, and for a trucker who used to hold me up by my ankles as a kid, it’s a change. Everyone was shocked but relieved at the same time, I’d been sick for so long.
How did your friends react?
I ended up losing friends before my diagnosis, because I was sick for so long, a lot just didn’t stick around. Of those that did, I feel very greatful to have them in my life. They were shocked, as well I think everyone involved was! – but they were there for me, and I feel like I can count on them to be there for me, even if I can’t speak freely about everything.
What did your treatment consist of?
Medical Side: I had Adriamycin four times, once a month for four months, and I am just going to start Ifosfamide on the same schedule for 5-6 months.
In which hospital(s) were you treated?
What is your current medical status?
How is life different for you now post diagnosis (physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually)?
Life is so different. I sleep a lot more than I did, but I also do a lot more than I used to. I’ve decided to spend each Saturday night out at a local club with one of my best friends, and I rarely miss it (except for chemo weeks). I try to be as active as I can be, it keeps my mood and my health up. I keep getting low white cell counts, so I have to take neupogen every month, but that’s going alright. Emotionally, I’m on a roller-coaster. I try to maintain good spirits, but sometimes it’s hard. Socially, things are harder as well. I am not involved in the same things I used to be, so I don’t see the same people that often. I’m trying to get more active socially again. I’m seeking, spiritually, trying to find my path.
What is/was the toughest part of your challenge?
The toughest part is definitely the chemo. It’s hard to be sick for days a month. I’ll be happy when it’s over. It’s been tough trying to get back to life.
What is/was the best part of your challenge?
It’s making me evaluate what I want out of life, and strive toward it. I’m taking no prisoners now, it’s all or nothing… at least, it’s getting there.
What are some (if there are any you know of) preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience like yours?
Well, I’d say listen to your body. If you know something is wrong, don’t just let doctors tell you it’s nothing. Chances are, it’s nothing, but it could be something serious. There’s no such thing as “too young for cancer.” It’s better to be a squeeky wheel for no reason, than to find out too late that it was something serious.
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?
I attended one Ovarian Cancer support group but it’s all older women. From what I learned talking with others at the Retreat, and having just met another young cancer patient at the hospital, I am going to get some help to start a young adults support group here.
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer?
Just freaking awesome. The retreat was amazing, and the people I’ve met through this site are awe-inspiring. I love you all. 🙂