Being Diagnosed at a Young Age

Headshot Photo of Ovarian Cancer Survivor Nancy 3

When Nancy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 41, she had so many cysts on and around her ovaries that the CT scan did not show her ovaries at all. But surgery revealed the cancer was caught early at Stage 1a. Always a healthy eater and avid athlete, Nancy is diligent and assertive when she discusses her care with her doctors. She is married and has three grown children, two boys and a girl.

My initial reaction upon hearing the words “You have cancer” was fear. Terrifying fear. The kind of fear that can paralyze. Fear for my children, who were 17, 14, and 8 at that time. It was unfathomable to think of them growing up without me. So, I needed some time to come to grips with my cancer diagnosis, time to educate myself, and time to wrap my head around my new, unwanted reality. Taking time to process helped me keep things in perspective.

Looking back, it reminded me of that expression: “fear knocked and faith answered.” Honestly, I needed the time to build up the emotional strength to let faith answer. But once I did, I was determined to come out swinging. I was resolute in my determination to do whatever it took to beat my cancer, to fight as hard as I could with all that I had. I resolved to fight like a girl. Between the time I took and the determination that followed, I found something else that would help me cope with the unknown of cancer.

What resulted from my fight was a new and deeper understanding of hope. Real hope. The kind that trusts all will be well, no matter what. Hope that can live happily and contentedly with unanswered questions because no one has all the answers anyway. Since then, I refuse to let fear of tomorrow rob me of any of my joy today. Tomorrow will take care of itself, but today will never come again, so I want to live it to the fullest. I guess you could say that I have a new appreciation for the gift of each and every day.

That is how I learned to cope with my diagnosis: time, determination, and hope. They saw me through the diagnosis, the treatment, and telling my children about my cancer. They see me through every day of my life still.