July 24, 2012
On October 4, 2011, my daughter, Leah Jean, was born. I had a cesarean delivery, and according to the doctor, my ovaries were “unremarkable.” I loved being a new mother. I started to lose the baby weight quickly, but had noticed some bloating in the pelvic region.
In February, I knew my body was trying to tell me something. I had painful urination and sharp pain in my abdomen, along with other symptoms. I figured it these were normal repercussions after having a baby. Unable to ease my mind about these symptoms, I decided to go to the OB/GYN in May of 2012. The doctor had reassured me that it was scar tissue due to the cesarean, and there was nothing that can be done to fix it. I begged for an ultrasound and had an appointment later that day. I will never forget the ultrasound technician saying, “Well, that’s not your uterus...” There was a large mass covering my left ovary. The doctor was called in quickly and began to explain that we need to have surgery as soon as possible, and the possibility of malignancy.
My world was completely turned upside-down. I arrived at my mother’s house after and explained everything in hysteria. Appointments were set and I was scheduled for the tumor to be removed on June 21, 2012. The time of my appointment was repeatedly pushed back due to other surgeries. I had felt a little pain and cramping during my wait and I knew something had changed. The tumor had ruptured during my wait. My surgery was finished later that night. I was told that the mass was called a germ-cell tumor, and it was malignant and had ruptured. My left ovary, along with the tumor was removed. Luckily, the doctor went through the same scar as my cesarean. It was a long 5 days in the hospital for recovery, especially without my baby. My mind was racing. Nobody in my family that I knew of had ever had cancer or gone through chemotherapy. All of this was out of left field.
My chemotherapy began July 9, 2012. My regimen was considered very aggressive. The first week I would have 3 bags at a time for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. The following 2 weeks I would receive treatment for 2 days with 3 bags for 8 hours each day. This cycle continued for 3 months. I told my daughter that I was going to work. I was lucky to have the help and support of my loving family because I was very ill. My boyfriend worked very hard during the day to pay the bills and took care of me at night. My mother became my daughter’s caregiver and provided her with more love and affection than I had energy to give. My father, sisters and grandmother sat by my side every single day I had treatment.
My family brought life to the moment of disaster and I was never left alone which helped to keep my mind off of things. The only way to live during that time was positively. Going without working, financial issues became a huge stress. I had reached out to many “groups” with funds to help but I never met the demographics.
My grandmother had mentioned a local group, H.O.W. - Hearing the Ovarian Cancer Whisper. My Grandma informed me that the founder Jacquelin Liggett, was married to her brother, Dr. Jack Liggett. Unfortunately, Jacquelin did not survive the struggle of ovarian cancer, although her legacy lives on.
Gratefully, I spoke with Jennifer McGrath, H.O.W.’s Program Officer and Development Officer on many accounts and I became an Angel Fund recipient. H.O.W. helped us get back on our feet financially. My stress was relieved and it became a lot easier to go day to day during treatments.
My treatments ended September 6, 2012. I had completely beat cancer and was considered a survivor and 100% cancer free. My life began to come back together and normality was my biggest goal. I decided to go back to work and assume the everyday life I had to put on pause.
Seven months after chemotherapy had ended, I became pregnant with my second child. I was told I would be infertile and there was a huge possibility I would not be able to have any more children. I am now 23-years -old, pregnant, working and a mother of a two-year-old, and I could not ask for anything more. I am a cancer survivor because I listened to my body. I am one of the lucky ones to beat this ugly disease.