Want to stay informed on the up-to-date info on Ovarian Cancer?

Like our Facebook page. Everyday we post the most recent breakthroughs and human interest stories on Ovarian Cancer.

Beating Cancer

Written by Courtney Paret

In 2009, I was 23 and about to get married, 3 months before my wedding date I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer as well breast cancer, just weeks apart from each other. I was diagnosed with two unrelated cancers at the same time!

Back when I was 19, I complained to my gynecologist about having pain in my pelvic area on the right side. He told me I was a hypochondriac and he dismissed my symptoms as nothing we needed to be worried about! He felt no need to see why I was having pain. This made me feel like I was a hypochondriac. My doctor treated me as if I had no idea what I was talking about, with my own body. I trusted him because he was a doctor and rated one of the best doctors in his field within Los Angeles. One of my mothers also called me a hypochondriac after I told her I was worried about the pain I was having, so I began to think maybe I was wrong and they were right. I continued seeing the same doctor for 3 years.

One day I noticed a large mass in my abdomen that I had never felt before, so I asked my husband to feel it. My husband felt the mass and we both became extremely worried. I wasn’t sure what it was and my husband didn’t either. My husband and I both worried that I might have been pregnant. My husband told me I needed to see a doctor… but I didn’t bother setting up an appointment. I procrastinated going to a doctor until I had shown my personal trainer the mass one day at the gym. My trainer refused to work out with me again until I got the mass checked out, he also thought I might have been pregnant. I called my doctor up to make an appointment and the office told me to come in right away when I explained everything.

When I went to my gynecologist office, they immediately wanted me to get an ultrasound. I told the ultrasound tech about the mass and that my husband, my trainer, and I all thought I might be pregnant, she felt my belly and she thought the same too. She smiled and asked me a round of questions, we joked and laughed. Once she started the ultrasound, her facial expression went from happy to frightened. After looking at the screen she left the room in a hurry to grab a couple of doctors and a nurse. They were all looking at the screen together and not allowing me to view what they were all looking at. Nobody would tell me what was going on and they all basically ignored me while they discussed things amongst themselves. I could tell something was seriously wrong so I began to get really scared and I was trying to pry info out of them but they acted as if I wasn’t there. They finally asked me to get off the table and follow the nurse to my doctor’s office.

This whole time I was thinking I had a dead baby inside me. I sat in the office for 15 minutes waiting for the doctor, which felt like a lifetime because I had thousands of worried thoughts racing through my mind, which made me extremely anxious. When the doctor finally showed up, the first thing he said to me was that I needed to be scheduled for an emergency surgery the next morning. I asked if I was carrying a still born child and he said no, I had a huge tumor, about the size of a nerf football. He said the tumor was a ticking time bomb and needed to be attended to right away because it was extremely dangerous. So we scheduled my surgery to get the tumor removed.

The following morning I went for my operation, no one knew if I had cancer or just a benign tumor, not even the doctor was sure about it. While I was on the operating table my tumor had ended up rupturing after they had opened me up but they quickly got my bleeding under control and safely removed the tumor. When I woke up from the anesthesia, the doctor said my tumor was huge but he was excited to tell me the pathology report said the tumor was cancer free. I did get upset because I found out I had lost my one ovary but I was extremely happy about the news of being cancer free. I told my fiancé Josh (now my husband) to call all my family with the good news. Three days later, I received a phone call that changed my life forever… My doctor had called me to tell me that they had made a mistake and that they were wrong about the initial pathology report. He told me that in fact my tumor was beginning stages of cancer and what they removed was actually three tumors, two of them swallowed up by a third, and that the biopsy they took for pathology report was only a piece of one of the tumors, which is why they made a mistake.

They had done a more thorough pathology on the entire mass, which is how they found the cancer cells. My doctor said I needed to setup another surgery to get a hysterectomy in order to be safe from the cancer but I told him absolutely not. I stated that I want to get a second opinion with tests and screenings before any other operations were performed. He said I still needed to come in and see him so he could do a post-op checkup to make sure I was healing up well.

After informing one of my mothers about all the shocking news, she immediately flew from San Antonio to LA so that she could go to the doctor appointment with me. I’m extremely happy and thankful my mother was able to come help me. Before she left she had researched a lot about cancer and she spoke with some friends & doctors for some advice. My mother, my husband, and I all went to go see the doctor for my post-op appointment. My mother interrogated the doctor, and said that he neglected my condition and should have caught this much sooner. She demanded that we get several tests done to get a comprehensive review of my body to make sure I didn’t have any other cancers in my body.

He was hesitant about ordering the tests for me but my mother was insisting on it so he ordered me to get a whole round of tests and screenings done. My mother also demanded a copy of the medical report from my surgery so that we could get the full details of what occurred. The report is actually how I found out about my tumor rupturing because the doctor didn’t even bother disclosing that info to any of us. It made me very upset once I found out about my tumor rupturing because I realized how close I was to the tumor killing me… if I didn’t get the surgery when I did, the tumor might have ruptured and killed me before anybody would even know what happened. I was extremely angry because it made me recall telling the doctor about the pains I had when I was younger and how he ignored my symptoms. Had he done an ultrasound earlier on he may have saved me from losing an ovary or even letting the tumor turn cancerous.

The day after my post-op appointment, I went to go get PET/CT scans, blood screenings, and some other tests, followed up with an MRI just 2 days after. My family and I had to wait a few days to get the results from the doctor. My mother had to fly back to Texas before I could get the results, so I went to the hospital and got the PET/CT scans and MRI.

First thing I did was pop the discs into a DVD player and I watched them over 20 times through. I saw a small lump in my breast and suspected it as cancer and I saw a lot of other things in the scan that made me worried. A few days later I went back to the doctor for his findings from all the results. He told me I needed a hysterectomy because it was the safest way to make sure I wouldn’t have to worry about any more ovarian cancer. He then started to tell me that he noticed a lot of activity in my liver, colon, kidneys, and appendix and that I needed to go see a specialist to further investigate. He gave me a list of doctors to go see but I was shocked that he had not made any mention of my breast so mentioned to him that I saw activity in breast too but he said not to worry about it, that I was way too young for breast cancer and that’s not the kind of cancer I had, that I only had ovarian cancer.

My gut instinct was not to listen to him as he almost killed me from his medical neglect with my ovary. I told him that I was going to call my mother and tell her he was fighting me on investigating further to make sure I didn’t have any breast cancer. He asked me what I wanted to have done and I told him a I wanted a mammogram and needle biopsy so that I could take the results to a new set of doctors. So he called to make me an appointment at a breast doctor so that I could get the tests done.

I went into the breast doctor get my mammogram and biopsy done. There were issues with the needle biopsy because they couldn’t numb the area very well so I ended up having a very unpleasant and painful biopsy, I could feel all of it. Since I had such large breasts, the tissue was very dense and they had a lot of difficulty getting to the tumor (my bra size was 34 J at the time, now they are 36HH). After I got my results from the breast tests, my mother had me Fedex over the results and imaging to her friend that was undergoing cancer treatment at MD Anderson clinic in Houston. After her friend checked it all out she told my mother to get me over to MD Anderson right away to get a through run of testing and research done. So with the help of my mother’s friend, I got a rushed appointment scheduled at MD Anderson even though they had a long waiting list for anybody that wanted to go to the clinic. Within 2 weeks, I flew out to Houston to go see a bunch of doctors and get a long list of tests, scans, and procedures performed. Basically I got a head to toe set of testing to check over my entire body. Two of the procedures I had performed at the clinic on my last day there were a colonoscopy and an esophagogastroduodenoscopy, both which were very painful… they didn’t sedate me for the colonoscopy.

I had to fly back to Los Angeles after my time at MD Anderson as I had a big wedding meeting I had to be back for. My family and I had to wait a few weeks for the team of doctors to review my results. All my doctors at MD Anderson had a meeting together and then conference called me to give me their findings. That’s when we all found out that I in fact had two separate kinds of cancer, one being an extremely rare, slow-growing cancer in my breast. The doctors told me that they wanted to “monitor” this cancer for about 6 months to see if it was going to grow at all, they also recommended that I get radiation treatment and a surgery to cut out the tumor. They got very pushy about wanting to study my breast and I got really annoyed with them insisting on treating me as a “guinea-pig”. I could tell they didn’t care about me getting treatment right away as they looked at me as a test subject. I explained to them that my gynecologist wanted me to get a hysterectomy, and they said I could do that if I wanted to play it safe or I could get radiation treatment. They said they felt radiation treatment was the best option for me especially for my breast and for the free-floating cancer cells that I had in the lower part of my body. I didn’t feel comfortable with any of the doctors suggested treatment plans. They did clear me of any cancer in my kidneys, liver, and colon. The MD Anderson doctors told me I need to keep an eye on all of my areas of concern to make sure nothing will show up in the future if I chose not to do the treatments they recommended. They did advise me to get my appendix removed as it had potential for cancer, as they often would see patients get cancer in the appendix after having the kind of ovarian cancer I had.

With all of the reports and results, I went and found more doctors back home in LA to get a third opinion. I’m glad I didn’t do what the MD Anderson doctors wanted me to do as it turned out my breast tumor, that they thought was slow-growing, was actually growing much faster than they had expected. My breast doctor told me not to sit around and get studied, that I was not a human guinea pig and it was not a good idea to gamble with my health and life. My breast doctor told me to operate right away and I trusted her opinion so I decided to get the surgery. I’m extremely thankful that I found her and happy that I listened to her advice. After my surgery on my breast, my doctor told me had I waited longer I could have lost my nipple and even my whole breast. She saved most of my breast thankfully! I also went with the advice to remove my appendix, as that was opinion that was consistent amongst all the doctors.

As for my ovarian cancer, I chose not to remove my other ovary or uterus because I found an amazing gynecologic oncology doctor that agreed it wasn’t necessary at least at this point, especially since I really wanted to have a child. I told her about a plan I had to take a chance and try changing my diet to try and rid my body of any remaining cancer cells. She thought it was crazy but her and my surgical oncologist respected my wishes. I told them I was going to do a major body cleanse, that I had read yeast, sugar, and alcohol feed cancer cells so I decided to not give my body any of that for one year so I could starve the cancer.

For one very long year I endured what was an extreme change and very difficult thing to stick to, but I did one full year of no sugars, yeast, alcohol, any kind of flour or gluten and plenty of other delicious foods cut out of my diet. It all ended up being worth it. I have been cancer free for quite a few years now! My team of doctors that didn't agree with my decision at first said I was being reckless and stupid but then they were happy with my decision when they started seeing results . But I did tell them if I didn't see results in the first 6months that I would listen to them but luckily we started seeing results and I was still going in every few weeks to get checked to make sure I wasn't getting worse, that in fact I was getting better and better!

What I did was best for me and I don't recommend it for everybody. I only did it because my cancer wasn't life threatening at the time. Since it was in the beginning stages I had a chance to try to do it myself first and I did. I'm proud of myself for that! I’m also thankful for the help of all the doctors that operated on me, they cut out pretty much all of the cancer. I wouldn't have been able to do my body cleanse if they didn’t do that because I would've had to do a whole different kind of treatment! I'm very thankful and glad I got to skip chemo and radiation and that I got to keep my uterus!

One year after all of my treatments my doctor cleared me to have a baby. She told me if I wanted to have baby this was my chance to go for it because she wasn't sure if my cancer was going to come back or not, but at the time that my health was perfect to go for it. So my husband and I finally went on a much-needed honeymoon to Europe for a month. We got pregnant on that trip but shortly after we lost the baby at nine weeks! We were sad to lose the baby but we tried a few months later and I got pregnant again on first try at a second pregnancy. My second pregnancy was successful and we had a very healthy baby boy in 2011.

The day my son was born I had a C-section and my doctor was really worried, she had a great idea to take biopsies and inspect that area. She took samples and everything came back cancer free.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my cancer journey and hearing my happy ending being able to live, survive, conquer and have a beautiful family. I'm truly blessed and grateful to still be alive and here today! Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my life. Every day is a struggle for me having to listen to my body and knowing if something is wrong and to take it seriously because in my head I still think I'm a hypochondriac.

My husband, my doctors and nurses, and my family have all tried talking to me about it and telling me I am not one. They have all told me not to ignore anything if I feel something is wrong but I still struggle with it. My whole family and my doctors have told me I’m a very strong person with everything I’ve gone through, but also because I have an extremely high tolerance for pain as I didn’t take many pain meds after my operations (which shocked my doctors and nurses). I'm just now overcoming my denial about having cancer and wanted to share my story hoping that maybe someone will hear and maybe I can help save a woman's life. Early detection can save your life so please don’t be afraid to get checked and don’t ever ignore when you feel something wrong in your body.

Connie Cluff, at 61 years old, is beautiful and full of light. Upon meeting her, one would never know that she has struggled for 20 years to defeat ovarian cancer.

Now cancer-free, she attributes her success to her family, God and the staff at LMH Oncology Center.

Cluff’s doctor found a nodule on her ovary in 1992 as a result of what she thought was a fairly routine doctor’s visit. At the time, Cluff was working in a medical office to help her husband pursue his dream of a second career.
Read her story here...

Georgette Leo was diagnosed with the disease in the summer of 2007. She has been cancer free for six years, but tells her story to encourage others who find themselves in the same boat. When she started to feel extremely nauseous and bloated. When more symptoms persisted, Leo called her gynecologist, who suspected it was just side effects of menopause. “I knew it wasn’t menopause but I didn’t expect cancer,” said Georgette. “It wasn’t in the family and nothing was warning us.” A series of tests confirmed the worst. Georgette had a 10-centimeter mass of cancer that had spread from her ovaries to her uterus and cervix. Within one week, she went in for surgery. “My gynecologist came out crying and told my husband, ‘I think it’s bad, and she’s not going to do very well.’ My husband fell to his knees,” said Georgette.
Read her stories here...

Laura Zawadiuk believes she’s still alive because she listened to her body. After weeks of a mild, cramp-like pain in her abdomen 12 years ago, Laura went to a doctor. “It was on the pelvic area and the pain didn’t go away,” she said. “My doctor thought it might be an irritable bowel or an ulcer, but I said ‘Nope, that’s not right’.” She went to hospital and doctors discovered a grape-sized tumor on her ovary.
Read her stories here...

Nine years ago, Sue Sigmon-Nosach heard devastating news on her answering machine. “‘Sue this is Dr. W. I’ve got bad news for you,’” she said, recounting the message. “‘You’ve got ovarian cancer. You’re going to be dead by the end of the year. I suggest you get your affairs in order.’ And that’s how I was told I had ovarian cancer.”

Sigmon-Nosach admitted her “oh, crap” moment came in February 2004 when she was diagnosed with stage 1 non-clear cell ovarian cancer. “My husband and I felt totally alone,” she said. “Cervial cancer took his brother’s wife. Ovarian cancer took his mother. And my husband was now told his wife had cancer. So he had been hit from every angle and it was an oh-crap moment for us.”
Read their stories here...

It’s tough enough to face and beat breast cancer. Imagine having to face ovarian cancer too – and losing your husband during treatment.That’s what happened to Carol Rodman. Read on for the inspiring story of one ovarian cancer patient… Carol Rodman, a 65-year-old retired nurse from the Memphis, Tenn., area., wasn’t surprised when her gynecologist discovered a lump in her right breast in May 2003.
Read her story here...

Michelle Shepherd has survived nine years. Deanna Cosens, two. Elaine Greenberg, 13. Janet Schuler, two years. All were diagnosed at stage 3 ovarian cancer. Each lives with the fear that her cancer will come back. Some have already experienced recurrences. “We all look to the survivor who has lived longer than we have,” says Michelle. “We all look to that person. But the beast is always kind of looking over your shoulder.”
Read their stories here...

Ivette says she was fortunate to have an amazing team of doctors by her side, they had encountered a large tumor that was pushing on her baby — one that needed to be excised as soon as possible. Ivette recalls she was rushed to the operating room where Dr. Syed exercised her God given talents, saved her baby and performed a partial hysterectomy. Then came the news that it wasn't only a tumor, but ovarian cancer. "The news came like an arrow to my heart. All I could think about was how can my baby survive this?" said Ivette.
Read her story here...

A lot has happened in the 12 years since Donna Trussell's diagnosis. Now she knows more about ovarian cancer, and the information is not exactly comforting. "In these dozen years I’ve buried new friends, which wasn’t surprising, since they had cancer too. I’ve also buried old friends, which was shocking. “You beat me to hospice,” I said to one. “How’d that happen?”" says Donna. She has not forgotten those left behind. She once heard Tim O’Brien read a short story about a dead sister. Her “ghost” was sad and lonely. She said she felt like a book on a library shelf that no one ever checks out. But Donna always remembers her friends who died. "I don’t know when I’ll be joining them." says Donna.
Read her story here...

For two months, Beth Knutson ignored the pain in her side. She brushed it off as it got more frequent, thinking it was nothing more than just a common side ache. Thanks to some good timing and pure luck, though, she found out it was more than just a little pain. It was ovarian cancer. “I had no doubt I would beat it,” Knutson said. “I relied on my faith, family and good doctors, but I knew I would.”
Read her story here...

Stay informed with up-to-date info on Ovarian Cancer by liking our Facebook

Patricia Egan was just 31 when she was diagnosed with the disease in 2005 but, luckily for her, it was detected and treated early. “I had just gone to Pope John Paul’s funeral in Rome and then did the Mini Marathon with a friend of mine and all was fine until a few days later when I had a pain in my lower abdomen. Firstly I put it down to muscle strain from the marathon and ignored it – but later that day, I got concerned and decided to see an out-of-hours doctor who told me I had a kidney infection.

I was given antibiotics but this had a knock-on effect on my bowel so after the antibiotic course was finished, I returned to the doctor because I had pains when going to the toilet. I was put on different tablets and although these helped a bit, the pain still lingered. So much so that when I was at a friend’s wedding, I couldn’t dance because I was in pain.

By this point, I was fed-up and got my GP to refer me to Ballinasloe hospital. I was admitted straight away because numerous tests and scans had to be done. The following day, I was told I had a bladder stone. I was delighted as I knew it would only involve a small procedure. But two days later, my gynaecologist told me it wasn’t to do with my bladder after all: they had discovered an ovarian cyst the size of a melon.
Read her story here...

Nancy White had one thought while undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. “All my friends would tell me that I would pray to live long enough to get (my children) through high school,” White recalls. “Then I would bargain with God and say, ‘If you let me live I will help other women,’”. Nancy was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer in 1996. Her children were still in middle school. White knew that she needed every prayer that she could muster along with those of her family, friends and members at Sunnyside Presbyterian Church in South Bend. “The prognosis was very grim,” she recalls. “There is less than five or 10 percent of more than a five-year survival.”
Read her story here...

In 2003, when Peggy was diagnosed with primary peritoneal cancer, she knew her life would never be the same, and she was afraid. Cancer is very scary. At a time when more than ever before you need to have your wits about you, the debilitating effects of surgery and chemotherapy drag you down.
Read her story here...

Barbara's quilting was interrupted in April during her husband’s time of tests and removal of his gall bladder. She started feeling like she would be next up for a gall bladder surgery; she just couldn’t keep any food down (another symptom of what was to come). But if Barbara was working on her quilt she didn’t seem to notice the discomfort of bloating and upset digestion system – although she was sipping one Coke a day and gaining weight! (Another symptom.) After she took her husband home from the hospital the last day of April 2003, she went to see the doctor. The doctor called a week later and said test results showed Barbara had an ovarian mass (tumor) that was likely ovarian cancer.
Read her story here...

Marissa Hosch was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 15 years old and a freshman at Salisbury High School. Now, as she prepares to graduate with her class cancer-free, she said she hopes to encourage other young people who are fighting illness and other difficulties.

“That’s my goal after all this,” Hosch said. “I just want to be an inspiration to someone else to not give up.” Ovarian cancer is rarely diagnosed in teenage girls and typically causes few symptoms in the early stages. So when she complained of persistent, sharp pains in her side, doctors told her she had irritable bowel syndrome.
Read her story here...

More upsetting to Christine Chasse than finding out she had cancer and getting a full hysterectomy, was losing her hair. The whole process was devastating.

Christine vividly remembers one day while taking a shower, she looked down and found the tub completely covered in hair. It took her longer to clean the shower drain, than it did to actually bathe. She also remember times when she would go out for a drive with the windows down; to then find clumps of hair on her shoulders. She couldn’t believe that something as simple as the wind would make her hair fall off!

Christine is not vain, for all those people who say “It’s just hair”…. Well, its not! Her hair, once long and healthy, made her feel strong, confident, and sexy! To lose it meant losing all things that represented her femininity. More important, it was that sure tell sign that Christine had cancer. A visual for all people to see, point, and say: “oh, she must be sick”.
Read her story here...

Birthday presents usually come wrapped in carefully folded paper and shining bows, with warm smiles and celebration, but for Bonnie Donihi her 47th birthday was not quite as celebratory as she imagined. She was diagnosed with stage-three ovarian cancer, just three days before her birthday. “It certainly was a shock; I had no idea,” she said. “I didn’t even know what ovarian cancer was.” She never imagined the cancer would reoccur three times, and she’d still be educating others about the disease 18 years later. “I started realizing that people weren’t talking about ovarian cancer and I needed to get the discussion going,” she said.
Read her story here...

ANGELA WALKER is a medical miracle. The mother-of-three was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer a decade ago and it is thanks to her determination that she is in good health today. The 56-year-old has always been fit, active and “annoyingly healthy”. She says: “I cook everything from scratch, spend 10 hours a week at the gym and don’t drink or smoke.” So she was baffled when in January 2003 she started to feel exhausted. “It wasn’t the type of fatigue that an early night would put right. I felt drained. Soon after I developed a pain in the right side of my stomach and horrendous constipation. “I’d only ever been ill once in 30 years with a kidney infection so when I went to see my GP I immediately wanted to see a specialist. But she insisted on doing tests to rule out other conditions.”
Read her story here...

After a painstaking 90 hours of chemotherapy Katrina Ellis said she had no white blood cells left. She went on a journey of self-discovery, spending a lot of time meditating and thinking it was a mind-over-matter situation. A year later, she was still alive and visited a doctor who told her it was completely gone but, it was the most aggressive form of cancer and she would still be dead in a year.

She says she is still proving the doctor wrong 13 years later.

After her courageous battle she penned the international best-seller Shattering the Cancer Myth. The book details her personal journey as well as divulges some of the recipes she used to combat cancer. But this year the author, mum, cancer survivor, naturopath, iridologist and strong woman released Raw Addiction, a recipe book. She said her latest book was perfect for anyone who wanted to add more raw vegetables into their diet but didn't have a lot of time to do it.
Read her story here...

A cancer diagnosis can bring family life to a halt, bringing feelings of sorrow along with it. Carolyn Lane and her family have had their struggles since she was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in March of 2010. But she still loves to laugh, says daughter Brandi Barnhardt. “You know, the Lord’s in control … The devil’s not going to win,” Barnhardt says as she and her mother sit at the kitchen table in the family home.
Read her story here...