My name is Kimberly. I am a recent Ovarian Cancer survivor (finished treatment August 2020). As a wife and mother of five young children, beating this awful cancer was my TOP priority. As a 41 year old, having stage 3c Ovarian Cancer was the last thing on my mind. Feeling as if maybe the baby weight of my fifth child just didn’t seem to go away was what I initially thought I was dealing with. After months of beginning to look like I was pregnant from bloating, constipation, and some pain in my abdomen, I began to worry that something else was going on. The inside of my abdomen just felt tender and I couldn’t make sense of it. I have gotten ovarian cysts all of my adult life, so naturally that is what I attributed the pain to. After a few weeks I decided to go see my gynecologist because I just felt like I needed to have her check and maybe I needed a hysterotomy. My gynecologist administered an ultrasound and confirmed that I indeed had bilateral cysts on my ovaries. My gynecologist sent me on my way and hysterectomy was the next step. After all, I had given birth to five children, so that can wreck your body.
After another month my pain persisted and I decided that what I was feeling (bloating, pain, constipation, muscle spasms in the center of my abdomen) was more than just my ovaries, so I went to see a general practitioner. He sent me home with acid reflux meds and told me to come back in two weeks if I didn’t feel better. He said, I would send you for a CT Scan to rule out the scary stuff, but I don’t think that is good medicine right now. So three days later, feeling terrible, I called the office and asked for them to go ahead an schedule the CT Scan. Thinking at worst this is just a gallbladder issue since my mom had that and what else could it be?????? The results I could tell alarmed the tech conducting the CT Scan and she wouldn’t’ tell me anything. She said, “you have some gynecological issues going on, but you don’t want me to read this report, so just hang tight and we will get you on the STAT list and you need to go to the doctors office so he can go over this with you.” I immediately called my husband Chris as I knew that this was not good news. While we waited to see the doctor, this verse was on the wall and we just stared at it. “Do not let your hearts be trouble, trust In God”- John 14:1. I put my faith and everything in my being into that verse in those moments. Never thought it would be an advanced stage of Ovarian Cancer. This terrible feeling set in hearing those words, “You have Cancer” and I just felt heat radiate though my shoulders and down my entire body. The look on my husbands face was one I will NEVER forget. We both just cried and prayed. We went home to tell the children and my mom that was in town visiting the unfortunate news. It was a very emotional and traumatic experience for all of us.
Friends and family quickly surrounded us and the next day I was able to see a gynecologic oncologist. So thankful for good friends in the medical field that came running to my side and wanted to help me get the best care. So within one week I found myself in a biopsy and my first of 6 chemo treatments. In between the 6 chemo treatments, I would undergo what they call the Mother of All Surgeries (a complete abdominal debulking surgery and HIPEC administered directly into my abdomen. HIPEC is an aggressive form of treatment that exposes the inside of your abdominal cavity to a heated chemotherapy via catheters. The point of it is to hopefully kill any remaining microscopic cancer cells that may have been left behind in surgery. Your incision is temporarily closed and you are shaken around to bathe your organs for 90 minutes. Then your abdomen is reopened and the organs are rinsed with saline. The entire surgery and HIPEC took eight hours. The incision that was from breast bone to pubic bone was closed with 46 staples. The surgery was a rough 12 week recovery, but I was very blessed by friends and family for help during that time. Finishing my last chemo in August, I underwent my first post treatment scan and was deemed NED. This stands for No Evidence of Disease. In Ovarian Cancer the recurrence rate can be as high as 85%. So optimal debulking surgery as well as chemo is needed for a favorable outcome. I am trusting and relying on my Lord and Savior as HE has brought me through this horrible disease. I consider myself one of the lucky ones because as many as half of women diagnosed do not respond to treatment and often the recurrence happens within months to a year from finishing treatment. Many women are very sick from chemo treatments and multiple surgeries which cause a lot of pain. Could this still happen to me? Yes, but I put my hope in Jesus and know that it is His plan and not mine. For now I will use my time to help others.
My prayer and mission is to help women of all ages know what to look for with Ovarian Cancer and encourage them to go to the doctor if things don’t seem right. Together with awareness and ways to find early detection, we can save lives. As of right now there are not any adequate diagnostic tests to detect OC. A CA-125 blood test is used, but is not always a reliable option for everyone. Let’s raise some money for research and spread awareness in our community! Together we can give a voice to the WHISPERS of this beast.