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My Story | Carolyn G., Pennsylvania, USA

Ovarian cancer, Stage 3
Surgeries and chemotherapy, June 1998 at 49

A Survivor's Story
"I'm not the same person I was before June 8, 1998."

I became aware of my disease in the spring of 1998. I was tired, and my waist was thickening. My friends told me to exercise more, but my mother and sister told me to make an appointment with the gynecologist. I did so on June 8, 1998, a day that changed my life forever.

I praise God for leading me to my excellent gynecologic oncologist (gyn-onc), Dr. K. My first surgery took place on June 15, 1998. Since then, I have had four additional minor surgeries, a clean second-look surgery, and nine chemotherapy treatments.

Life holds so many surprises. I had planned a wonderful summer that year. I subscribed to theater productions, joined a swimming club, and made reservations for a vacation at the beach. Needless to say, those plans were modified!

At first, my family and I were devastated. We had read as well as heard that once a woman was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, her future was very bleak. But after my diagnosis, I enjoyed several surprises. One of which was the hope, comfort, and happiness I received from my gyn-onc, Dr. K. and his staff. After a couple of months, I came to see the real possibility of coming out of this illness a better person than before.

Before cancer, I had worked so hard at my teaching job that my life was not balanced. That's changed now. I spend much more time with my family and friends, even going so far as to organize a July 4th family reunion. I even had time to take computer classes while on leave from my job, and I purchased my own personal computer, something I wonder if I would have done if I never had ovarian cancer. And since my 50th birthday fell into the same month that my treatments were complete, I did something I never would have done before cancer...I had my ears double-pierced. Now I enjoy wearing diamond studs with a variety of earrings.

I'm not the same person I was before June 8, 1998. What have I learned from this disease? The first thing is to enjoy the moment. Don't allow opportunities for fun to slip by. Do something nice for yourself every day - take a walk, buy something pretty, call a friend, read a good book, buy flowers, or go out to lunch.

Second, I believe it is very important to plan activities you can look forward to enjoying in the future.

Third, be gentle with yourself. It's not up to you to solve all of the world's problems.

Although I still have my down days with limited energy, I remind myself that my life is in God's hands and that He has a plan for me.

July 2001

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