Brittany Castillo Fullerton, CA

Brittany’s journey through Ovarian Cancer- California, US

I remember being in the doctor’s office May 2010 signing my paperwork for the surgery…the doctor gave me the “worse case scenario” and reassured me that I would be okay and it was most likely not cancer because I am so young but it was just a precaution, if it was cancer I would have full hysterectomy. I held the pen tightly in my hand and I paused for a moment and said a prayer. I gently opened my eyes and slowly signed my name, my eyes watered up a little but nothing for anybody to notice. I looked over at my mom and my aunt who were so supportive of me and I felt their protection and love.

As I was being wheeled out of surgery, I quickly glanced at the clock, my surgery was 4 hours rather than 2. I looked up at the nurses and tried to ask them what happened but I was still out of it. I just looked at my mom, her face said it all. My dad was heartbroken. I completely lost it; at that point I knew my mom did too. I could hear her crying. No words needed to be said. I knew it was cancer. I was shaking my head back and forth crying, no, no, no! It was the longest walk going back to my room, my family following behind me. I felt so cold inside, so alone, so let down.

My doctor came in and notified me that I had a full hysterectomy and the cancer had spread to several organs in my body including: ovaries, fallopian tubes, colon, uterus, bladder, lymph nodes. My cancer count was 40,000. I had stage 3.75 ovarian cancer. Both of my ovaries were gone, they could not save them, one tumor was the size of a volleyball, on the other ovary was a cancerous Dermoid. In that split second I started getting angry. I am an only child and I just talked to my best friend, Megan, about having a big family–my own children and what I would name them. I did not understand why this was taken away from me and in a selfish moment I was upset with God. I started to tear up and I had no answers. My doctor was still talking to me telling me I needed to start chemotherapy and it was going to be the strongest treatment, how I would lose my hair, how nauseous I would get…it was all a blur. I tried to focus, his lips were moving but I couldn’t hear a thing.

I spent 3 days and 2 nights in the hospital I refused to let this bring me down. After all the support of my family and friends I knew I had to keep a stiff upper lip, be strong and beat this cancer! Ryan, my best guy friend came to visit me and I remember him holding my hand and he asked me how did this happen? The pain in his voice brought me to tears…I questioned myself and wondered how did this happen? How did doctors not detect it? Well, come to find out ovarian cancer used to be called the “silent killer”: the side effects are very hard to detect. You must listen to your body closely to notice anything. I guess I missed that memo because I had no clue, no pain, not a thing!

I did chemotherapy every 3 weeks for 8 treatments, I did lose all my hair, my eye brows, my eyelashes, everything. I was grateful I never got nauseous. Although it felt like a dark time in my life. I am finished with it now and look forward to being in remission. I look back and I realize that God would never give me anything that I could not handle. I will never know why but it is a blessing for me to sit here and tell you my story and how I am a survivor of cancer. I never gave up, I fought for all those who lost their battle and those who are fighting. The strength was from within me and God carried me through it. I’m so thankful for my friends, family, doctors, nurses everybody who helped me beat this. Without God I wouldn’t be sitting here with the courage and strength I have.