Did you know that breast cancer impacts more women each year? Yet, the rate of those women who do recover is much higher than those diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer? Below is the story of Jo Ann Rodriguez:
On a routine gynecologic visit, I discussed with my doctor some of the problems and concerns I was having. She decided to do a biopsy and run a blood test. The thought process was that it was probably the beginning of menopause, but the test would either confirm or deny this. The outcome was a diagnosis of uterine cancer.
Surgery is the only cure for uterine cancer. During my surgery, a tumor was spied on my ovary. A biopsy during surgery revealed it was ovarian cancer. I had 2 independent cancers in 3 locations. I was 47 years old and was diagnosed at stage 2C. I also underwent a full hysterectomy.
I had 6 rounds of chemotherapy. I also had months of shot therapy for low blood counts, CA125 blood tests, ongoing, routine monthly visits to oncology and gynecology. I was told by my oncologist “you are so young”. What did a comment like that mean? I wanted to know my odds. I was told it was a flip of the coin. I wanted to know what side was the winning side, because that was the side I intended to be on.
After 7 years, I was considered cancer free. I still run blood every 6 months and visit my gynecologist. I was a Kaiser patient. I loved my team of doctors and nurses. They are still very important to me. They saved my life.
MY ADVICE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO ARE DIAGNOSED WITH OVARIAN CANCER
Be positive, be open and communicate with your doctors, family and friends. They will become your support system. Don’t be afraid. Easy to say…it is very scary. Decide to survive and never give up. Major strides are being made against female cancers. Ask to be tested to see if you carry the gene that would pass this cancer on to future generations. This is not anything I ever want my 2 grand daughters to have to go through. We have all been tested.
You will have your pity parties. They are natural. You and your body are going through the fight of your life. Try to maintain a sense of normal within your home. Try to keep your routines. If you are able to work, at least try to work part time. It will help you concentrate on other things. Take care of yourself and your appearance. It means a lot.
I was not the type to read too much about my diagnosis. I believe knowledge is instrumental, but too much becomes depressing and disheartening. There are very few long term success stories. I tell everyone I live in the world of denial. Denial is a good thing!
I went to a few support meetings, but it was just too much cancer talk for me. Too much of anything is not good.
Be around people who are supportive and positive.
JO ANN RODRIGUEZ
Jo Ann is a Past President of the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley. Zonta is a global organization of executives and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy.