Angel Gnau Portland, OR
I was diagnosed with IIB, Grade 3 ovarian cancer on March 20, 2006. It took more than a year of telling the doctor something was seriously wrong before I was diagnosed…he wasn’t listening to me, which seems to be a prevalent complaint in diagnosing ovarian cancer.
I had constant pain in my lower left side. I was bloated and looked like I was eight months pregnant before I convinced my family doctor to order further tests. The doctor who read my CT results came in and said, “You have a myriad of things going on in there!” I was shocked when he said it might be ovarian cancer. A week later I had surgery, including a complete hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and omentectomy. I started chemotherapy with Carboplatin/ Paclitaxel on April 10th, 2006.
I did well in the beginning, but noticed my counts dropping steadily, and my energy waning after the 4th chemo. I decided to stop chemo early, after the 5th round, as my counts would not come up and I felt that the chemo might kill me. I told the doctor, “Don’t cure the cancer, only to kill the patient with chemo!”
I recurred in January of 2011, and again in October 2011. I have had more surgery, a second round of chemotherapy and finished radiation treatments November 30, 2011. I am currently in remission and hope to stay that way for a very long time!
For me, it has always been important to try and stay positive throughout the treatments and afterward as well. I live my life as normally as possible, and although I am now cancer free, I know it can return at any time, but I don’t dwell on that thought. I appreciate life more. I like to travel, do the things I want to do, and try to help other women, especially those newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer, to let them know they can get through it as well.
My best inspiration came from a volunteer at the hospital right after my surgery. Before she left, she said, “Oh, by the way, I am an 18-year survivor of ovarian cancer.” I almost cried. I told her, “Thank you, that is what I really needed to hear right now.” I needed to know that I could survive this cancer.
I am now an ovarian cancer spokesperson for Breast Friends, a cancer support group in my area, and have recently joined the Survivors Teaching Students® program sponsored by the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. This wonderful program teaches medical students about the symptoms of ovarian cancer through their research and individual stories of women such as myself, who have survived this disease.