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"When I heard [I had] cancer I immediately thought it was a death sentence," said Brandi Maxiell, who was just 24 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. "I had all of the symptoms. I had the bloating ... I looked 5-6 months pregnant. If I had to go to the bathroom I couldn't hold it," she said of her symptoms. "The hardest part was not knowing what to do or what was going to happen." After her life-changing diagnosis in 2007, Brandi, now 30, soon began chemotherapy which had many side effects including hair loss. At the time, she and Jason, 31, were engaged to be married, however, the joy of their engagement was overshadowed by Brandi's cancer battle. Read more here.



A cancer survivor is taking on an epic 3,300-mile Welsh walking challenge to and from hospital appointments in a bid to highlight issues surrounding the disease. Ursula Martin hopes her eight-month odyssey, criss-crossing Wales, will raise awareness of ovarian cancer, which struck her unexpectedly two years ago. The former care worker is hiking the length and breadth of Wales, crossing the River Severn for hospital appointments in Bristol. Along the way she aims to speak to every Welsh AM and MP in their constituency to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. Read more here.



A cancer survivor, told she had less than a year to live 16 years ago, hopes to inspire others who are still fighting.



As new grandmother Pauline Keating finished cancer treatment last year, she promised herself that if she made it through she would buy her dream motorcycle. Today, the 54-year-old is in remission from advanced ovarian cancer and a proud owner of a shiny Harley-Davidson. Before December 2012, she considered herself anything but a candidate for cancer. She was fit and healthy and training for a half marathon, hampered only by occasional bouts of painful bloating in her abdomen which she and her doctor dismissed as symptoms of her coeliac disease. here.



She talks about it now so matter-of-factly that it's hard to believe just three years ago at this very moment, Shannon Miller had no idea what was coming next. In January 2011, following a routine exam that she almost skipped, doctors removed a malignant tumor the size of a baseball and Miller's left ovary. "Relying on those lessons learned through sports, getting up back after a fall, setting goals for each day, especially throughout chemotherapy throughout treatment it was really important." This cancer was the biggest test on Miller. At the time of her diagnosis, she had a 15-month-old son. She says she relied on humor and faith to conquer her fears.
Read more of Shannon Miller's story here... and read why Shannon is Alexis De La Garza's favorite gymnast here.



Patty Knox was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 48, 2 years ago. Though she’s now cancer-free, her life views and habits have been forever altered. Trivial things that once bothered her, like a broken copier or crowded lane at a big box store, no longer affect her. She has made a point to be in the stands when her grandson takes the field for Little League games. And instead of staying home to clean the house, as she often did before, she now joins her husband, Jerry, on motorcycle rides through Kansas and Missouri. And the biggest change in her day-to-day life? “I’m happier,” Knox says. “People would think that’s hard to believe, going through cancer. But I am.” But without an event that forces us to confront our own mortality, Young said, it can be difficult to make that mental transition – particularly in a world in which we’re bombarded with commitments and responsibilities.
Read more of Patty's story here...



Early Detection & Awareness a Life Saver for Ovarian Cancer Survivor Jane Lucas

Jane Lucas first experienced abdominal pain in a yoga session in late 2011. First believing it to be a pulled muscle, nothing could prepare her for the harrowing diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer at the age of just 31. “The pain gradually became sharper so I thought it best to go and see a doctor just in case. The doctor felt a mass in my abdominal area which was similar in size to that of a five month pregnant belly. I told her I just thought I had been eating too much cheese,” Jane recalls.
Read more of Jane's story here...



Katie is 21 and has stage 3 breast cancer. She is being treated at University College London Hospital. See what she has to say about her experience



Phoebe was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 17. "It's been hard to come to terms with being told that I'll never be able to have my own children, especially finding out at such a young age. I always saw myself having a family, but cancer has taken that decision away from me." says Phoebe.



A letter on the table saved Sheila Davis’ life. Like so many seemingly unimportant letters, she almost threw it away. But, a decade later and after surviving a life-threatening cancer, Sheila is glad she went with her gut instinct and kept the letter, knowing that she has been able to see her grandchildren grow up. In 2001, the letter was sent out to many over-60s, inviting them to take part in a trial screening for ovarian cancer, sometimes called ‘the silent killer’ as it can grow inside you and only show vague symptoms such as bloating and a feeling of fullness. Then in her early 60s, Sheila was going about her everyday life, working as a cook at Wyeth Laboratory in Havant, but something made her phone the hospital after seeing the letter.
Read her story here...



Samantha, ovarian cancer survivor

Samantha was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 17. She fought hard and beat this disease; and works together with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance to increase federal funding for ovarian cancer research.



Jamie's Story



Heatheran's Story - Ovarian Cancer Survivor

Read more here...



Marilyn Williams believes knowledge is power. But the knowledge Williams needed wasn't available to her in time to take action against ovarian cancer. "I would have had a hysterectomy, so I could have avoided cancer, but genetic testing wasn't available 20 years ago," she said. The first clues that something was wrong with Williams came in late 2007, when she lost 28 pounds over several months, experienced bowel changes and suffered indigestion. One of her daughters urged her to get a checkup.
Read her story here...



Caitlin Nespoli, Ovarian Cancer Survivor

This is the story about a woman who won the battle against ovarian cancer. Her condition was so severe, her cancer had spread to her lungs ,heart, her liver. There was very little chance that she will survive, but she did. THIS is her story!

I just went to my doctors appointment to see how I am doing with the chemo treatments. When I left there I was feeling depressed and for some reason had some negative thoughts. I was feeling kinda sad and trying to get rid of all those bombarding thoughts.

Then I got home and I got a phone call from my doctors office. She said she couldn't wait til Friday when I came in, she had to share the news with me. She got the results of my CA-125 and my number is now in the normal range!!!!! It has come down in 3 treatments from 605 to 39!!!

I have soooooo much to be thankful for! Praising God for His love and His comfort, His amazing grace and His loving kindness! I CAN'T PRAISE HIM ENOUGH!!!! I tell you without God in my life I am pretty sure I would not be alive right now. He gives me such strength when I think I can't make it. He is the lifter of my head! He is Alive and He truly is our Redeemer. He can be trusted!!!

God Bless All of you and thank you for all the prayers!!! To God be ALL the Glory!!! Praying that God bless All of you with a beautiful Thanksgiving with family and friends and good health!!!! Heres to a year of good reports!!! Praying this for ALL OF YOU!!!!!
Karolyn Wagatsuma

An inspirational story of triumph over ovarian cancer. Dr. Lisa Anzisi shares her journey from diagnosis, treatment, survival and advocacy!

In June 2009, ovarian cancer survivor Julia Ozburn will celebrate two years of being cancer free. It is a significant moment worthy of celebration marking a ten-plus year journey and it will be shared with family, friends and a large and growing number of fellow cancer patients and survivors who know Julia most for the way in which she has touched their lives.

Ellen tells the story of her diagnosis and how she learned that both she and her daughter have the BRCA1 gene mutation.

A 20 year survivor, Phyllis describes her diagnosis and how treatment and awareness of the disease has changed over the years.

Karen is an ovarian cancer survivor and this is her story.

When Marcy Weight of Coon Rapids found out at the age of 57 that she had ovarian cancer, she knew nothing about the disease or the fact that three other family members had it. She thought her aunt, cousin and grandmother had stomach cancer, but she later learned they had ovarian cancer. Weight’s story is fairly common for those who have or know someone with ovarian cancer.
Read her story here...



Chris was happily planning his wedding to Pamela in April 2001 when her diagnosis of ovarian cancer hit them like a ton of bricks.

After postponing their wedding so she could undergo chemotherapy, Pamela & Chris were married in November of 2001 and Chris thought they would simply put this diagnosis behind them. They both soon realized it wasn't so easy.

Both Pamela and Chris began a journey together and separately in their new life as cancer survivors, she as a volunteer with Woman to Woman and Chris on his own journey to try to gain insight and understanding about the effect on men when their partners are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Over these past 10 years, Chris has also had to adjust to a new reality post-cancer and to learn to live with the constant vigilance and worry about whether the cancer will come back. Chris helped craft the Men's Guide to Ovarian Cancer and co-hosted along with his wife a Mount Sinai event on "Sexuality for Couples After Gynecologic Cancer."

To learn more about Ovarian Cancer treatment, services and early detection at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, please click here.

To view the "Guide for Male Partners of Women with Gynecologic Cancer", please click here.

Sharon Blynn is an ovarian cancer survivor and has been cancer free since January 2003. Most recently she was the host of the PBS documentary, The Whisper: The Silent Crisis of Ovarian Cancer. She is the founder of the website BaldisBeautiful.org.

She wants to send a message to women that they can "flip the script" on the many traumatic aspects of the cancer experience, and embrace every part of their journey with self-love, empowerment, and a deep knowing that their beauty and femininity radiate from within and are not diminished in any way by the effects of having cancer.

The Whisper: the silent crisis of ovarian cancer:

For many women, the early symptoms of ovarian cancer are relatively obscure: abdominal discomfort, bloating, or pressure; changes in urinary or bowel habits, or vaginal spotting, leading some to refer to this disease as "the whisper." Some whisper. Each year, nearly 15,000 women will die from ovarian cancer, making it the deadliest form of gynecological cancer. This documentary, hosted by ovarian cancer survivor and activist Sharon Blynn, explores the diagnosis, treatment, and research advances of ovarian cancer, and empowers women to take steps that could save their own lives through earlier diagnosis.
The Whisper: the silent crisis of ovarian cancer Facebook.

At age 24, Britt Kascjak was experiencing abdominal pain that wouldn’t go away. She saw four doctors before she was finally sent for proper testing and diagnosed. When the ovarian cancer was finally caught, she said she was lucky because it was in its early stages.

Early on in their relationship, Britt and Jano Kascjak spent their second date discussing treatment options for the ovarian cancer with which Britt had just been diagnosed. “I just assumed that I wouldn’t hear from Jano again,” recalls Britt, now 27. She’d been diagnosed only three days after their first date. “I mean, it’s not like he had anything invested in a relationship at that point.” But she said he kept in contact with her regularly, checking up on her often and offering to sit with her in the hospital. She said she blew him off in the beginning, not wanting to burden him with it all.

Now, three years after that second date, the couple is planning to celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary in September by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Read her story here...


Note: we just received an email from Britt, she made it to the top!

Congratulations from all of us at the Sharon Leigh Cancer Organization!



"I looked pregnant," said Kim Snyder. One doctor said it was the fertility treatment she was undergoing. A bad cold, said another. A third told her it was irritable bowel syndrome. Back in 2008, Kim felt as if she had the flu. She coughed all the time and could barely eat. Yet her belly was getting bigger. When the condition worsened, she went to the emergency room. "In 15 minutes, they knew what it was, and I had a diagnosis of ovarian cancer," Snyder said. "My gynecologic oncologist said the tumor was the size of a volleyball. If I hadn't kept going to doctors, I could be dead by now."
Read her story here...


In July of 2009, Shannon had just returned from her dream vacation to France. Not even a month later, following a few trips to the gynecologist with complaints of abdominal pain, Shannon was sitting in the office of a gynecologic oncologist. She had never even heard those words used in a sentence. Shannon was being prepped for surgery to remove a cyst. One week later, she was diagnosed with Stage IIa clear cell carcinoma, a form of ovarian cancer considered rare in younger women. Within two weeks of being diagnosed, Shannon had a radical hysterectomy and a few weeks later, she began six rounds of chemotherapy. She was 32 years old and approaching her three year wedding anniversary.
Read her story here...


As a woman diagnosed at the age of 27 with Stage IIIc ovarian cancer, Marcia Donziger went through a dark time. According the stats, only 22% of women live another 10 years. Although Marcia can’t remember what she had for breakfast yesterday, she does remember the smallest details of my Diagnosis Day (D-Day). Today, she's 44 and grateful for every birthday. It was March 1997 when Marcia was living the “normal” life of a 27-year old – newly married, just bought a house, working full-time, and traveling. That’s when she started feeling some vague symptoms like bloating and abdominal discomfort. Marcia asked her doctor for antibiotics assuming she had a bladder infection. Never in a million years would Marcia have guessed a grapefruit-sized tumor was growing on her left ovary.
Read her story here...


At 45 years old Alice appeared to all to be in excellent physical condition and was about to embark on a new career in nursing. In the previous six months she had run an eight-mile race in September and hiked 24 miles in the Grand Canyon in November.

" In January of 2010 I was working full time in a research lab, and I had just completed all of my prerequisite classes and applied to nursing school…On Saturday, January 30, I went for a 3-mile run and noticed some discomfort in my lower abdomen, but I finished the run and didn’t think much about it. On Sunday I went hiking and noticed that it felt like I needed to urinate when my bladder wasn’t full, and I can usually go six hours between bathroom breaks. On Monday morning I set out running with my husband but after half a mile I stopped and said to him “something isn’t right, I’d better walk back and try to get in to see my doctor today.” I thought maybe I had a urinary tract infection."
Read her story here...


Three years ago, Michelle Escobar-Gonzalez led a different life. She was a self-described “happy-go-lucky” fiancée and mother with a full-time job, like many women in the Rio Grande Valley. In January 2010, as many women do, Michelle set a goal to lose weight and get “dress-ready.” In March, she noticed something wasn’t right. “I notice my shorts are feeling a little tight, and I’m like, ‘OK, I’m losing weight and I’m exercising — what’s going on here?’” she said. “I didn’t pay much attention to it. I went ahead and just continued. I noticed, about two weeks later, that I started getting a belly. So at this point, I’m worried: Am I pregnant? I think I bought three or four pregnancy tests and they all came back negative."
Read her story here...


Marci Houff is an ovarian cancer survivor and is on a mission to educate women about the signs of this deadly cancer, as early prevention saves lives. "I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008 and our world was instantly turned upside down." says Marci. "Ovarian cancer has signs and symptoms, but they do “whisper.” Symptoms include: Bloating Pelvic or abdominal pain Feeling full quickly or trouble eating Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often I explained away my “symptoms” as a new Kashi 12 grain cereal I was eating, Pilates classes that were tough on my abdomen and don’t women always feel “bloated?”"
Read her story here...


At the time, Heather Swift owned a restaurant and coffeehouse in Bowling Green, Ohio which her husband and she sold in 1997 after the birth of their son to move to Ithaca. Once in town Heather aspired to become active in the birth community, but her husband and her separated within 6 months, she went to live with the kids and a family whom she barely knew with no car, no job, no money, and very little self-esteem left. Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Read her story here... and here.


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