"A Daughter’s Experience”, #1

April 2015...Mindy White

On Friday, February 14, 2012, I was having a great day getting ready for Valentine’s Day with my husband and son.  Friday’s are always great days!  That afternoon my mother called and I happily answered, knowing she was calling to wish us a Happy Valentine’s Day, as she always did.  Mom loved celebrating all holidays!  But, I was wrong.  What she told me was the most tragic thing I’d ever heard; she told me she had cancer.  We cried, we rationalized, we said everything would be okay, and we believed it.  That is how our journey with Ovarian Cancer began as a mother and daughter.

I am cancer-free.  I get the CA-125 blood test, ovarian ultrasounds and pap smears every three, six, and/or nine months, depending upon what I feel is necessary for me.  I do not go more than a year without seeing my doctor.  My mother’s diagnosis opened a huge door to different healthcare issues women must know about.  Neither she nor I had information about the symptoms and risk factors for ovarian cancer, and we don’t have a family history of gynecologic cancer. So when she was diagnosed with Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer, we were all shocked, as many women are. We have always been adamant about annual pap smears, mammograms, physicals, colonoscopies, and even going to the dentist every six months.  My mother was even more adamant than I was about her health care because she loved her life and wanted to ensure she lived to 100!  The only thing my mother did have issues with throughout her adult life was chronic gastrointestinal distress and moderate to severe endometriosis, which resulted in her having a partial hysterectomy in her early 30’s.  Due to her young age, her gynecologist recommended she keep her ovaries to help her with hormonal regulation.

Mom was amazing throughout the entire 2 ½ years she lived with cancer.  She fought hard, and although there were times she considered a break from treatment, she always kept going, wanting every possible chance at remission.  She and my dad enjoyed every day she had when she felt good and filled their days with traveling, shopping (she could do some shopping!), quality time with friends and family, and even building a winery.  It is really ironic to say, but even though we were already so close, cancer brought us that much closer, and we spent so much more precious time together.  I will never forget those wonderful times.  They might not have always been convenient for all of us since the family is spread across the US, but we made it happen and being together in those years made all the difference.

I’m encouraged by recent developments in the ovarian cancer movement. The latest news about Angelina Jolie and her decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed due to her family history of ovarian cancer, her CA-125 levels and carrying the BRCA 1 gene continues to shed light on Ovarian Cancer and bring it to the forefront.  While the coverage of her story may be controversial to many, I truly appreciate her raising awareness this way. This could make the difference to someone who might miss the information otherwise. Thank you, Angelina!

I could go on, and I just might if you all would like to hear more – even if you don’t, I still might!  I encourage all of you beautiful and amazing women out there – and the wonderful men who stand beside them – please listen to your bodies.  Susan did have some symptoms that she thought were something different, and had she known more about ovarian cancer risk, she very well might have talked to her doctors earlier about them. So, please learn more about signs and symptoms on our website at http://www.spbovariancancerfoundation.org/archive/Symptoms.aspx.html and talk to your doctors if something feels “off.”  Ask for further testing and ask about the CA-125 and BRCA blood tests.  I know all of this can be challenging and costly, even with insurance, but what is your life worth to you and those who love you?  PRICELESS.




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