Steps to Take After Diagnosis

Ovarian Cancer Survivor Jackie

Ovarian cancer barreled through Jackie’s life in a whirlwind of diagnosis, surgery, and chemo. Then, just as suddenly, it vanished. Jackie focused on her career and her family. For 17 years, they were her only concern, until ovarian cancer came back. Now she devotes her life to spreading awareness and doing what she does best: taking care of her family.

Retracing My Steps With Ovarian Cancer

The first time I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I was in denial. I went through the motions: surgery, chemo, and follow-ups. After going into remission, I moved on and chose to put cancer out of my mind. Not the best course of action, I know.

But I got a second chance to do it right. About 17 years after I went into remission, ovarian cancer came back. I went through so many tests, but the PET scan made me realize we were looking at cancer. When my family doctor told me the results, her hands were shaking and her voice was quivering, “You have cancer.” I replied, “I thought that’s what has been going on.”

My husband went into panic mode. He only knew that I had been having tests done, but not what it might be. I hadn’t wanted to scare him because he can be a Nervous Nelly. Honestly, I think I was the calmest one there!

My doctor already had the oncologist lined up to see me. The oncologist didn’t believe these results. “You don’t look sick. You don’t act sick. You can’t be sick!” We biopsied the spot on my chest wall. I have to tell you that was the most painful thing I have ever been through. The biopsy report proved my oncologist wrong. I was sick. I had cancer, stage IV ovarian cancer, with tumors on my right lung, right pelvis, base of my spinal column, and bone in my chest wall.

My oncologist spent two hours answering and re-answering my husband’s questions. (I mentioned he’s a Nervous Nelly, right?) My doctor prescribed a course of chemo, and I insisted on getting a port. I really don’t like needles! He was a good doctor, but every appointment, he was so negative about my prognosis. He made me feel like I was dying. Lucky for me, we moved to be closer to my family, and I have been so fortunate with my current oncologist.

When I first walked into his office, it was as if the sun came out compared to the gray clouds at the other place. He talks to me like a person and we have real discussions. He has never made me feel like I am dying. In fact, he has always made a point to tell me we are going to do what we can until we can’t.

We finished the treatment my first oncologist had prescribed, and then I went an entire year with no treatment at all! I still saw my doctor every month, though. Since January of 2014, when my numbers started going up a bit, I have had treatment every three weeks with no time off.

I know I will be on treatment for the rest of my life, but I feel good knowing that I’m doing everything I can to fight my cancer.