Tina Carter Heiskell, TN

My name is Tina Carter. I was 29 when I was diagnosed with stage 111c Ovarian Cancer. It was the fall of 2007. I had been experiencing pain in my abdomen, painful intercourse and my periods where longer and heavier for going on 5 years prior to that. I kept going to my family doctor complaining of these symptoms and he told me I had PID and needed antibiotic shots. So I took the shot. A few weeks go by and the symptoms never went away. I went back and more shots. This went on for months. Then finally he sent me to a gynecologist which I was glad for because I figured I’d be “fixed”. Well to my surprise she diagnosed me with again with PID and wanted to give me the same shots. Needless to say I said no.

Years went by and I dealt with the pain, periods and the painful intercourse. Then the fall of 2007 comes and I noticed I was swelling in my abdomen. At the insistence of my mother I went to the emergency room, where I figured I’d be told I had PID. I had made up my mind I wasn’t going to let that happen. I wasn’t leaving until I knew what was wrong. They did an ultrasound and the technician found a mass. They didn’t know what it was but they knew it wasn’t supposed to be there.

After hours in the emergency room, I was sent home with an appointment to see a gynecologist. On my first appointment he said I needed exploratory surgery. As I’m waking up from surgery the doctor tells me I have ovarian cancer and he can’t help me, he needed to make me an appointment with a gynecologic oncologist. On my first visit I learn I need a full hysterectomy. I fell to pieces; I mean I was only 29 after all. He said he didn’t think it was cancer though. Two days after my surgery my doctor tells me that I do have stage 111c ovarian cancer, I didn’t hear anything else after that even though he was still talking. After he left I laid there thinking, “how am I going to tell my mom?”

My first appointment I told him about me having problems for 5 years prior and I asked why was this not caught sooner. He proceeded to tell me that women of my age do not normally get this type of cancer, so doctors do not often diagnose it. Not to mention most insurance companies won’t pay for the CA-125 test or even exploratory surgery if there’s not a good reason to do it. Plus I am the first one in my family to have ovarian cancer; it wasn’t hereditary. I was furious, I couldn’t believe that it was like that. I also couldn’t believe there is no test for this type of cancer. That I’d have to say was the most shocking part. Since when does cancer discriminate any way?

So now here I am still fighting 3 years and many chemotherapies later. I am very thankful that I was able to have two little boys before I was diagnosed. It’s them and my family that keeps me strong and fighting this horrible disease. :).