A woman holding a puzzle piece over her abdomen with a uterus on it

When Cancer Knocks Twice!

Looking back over my life, I never dreamed my life would take the turn it would take. I believe we all have a view or idea of our lives from when we are small children. It all begins with the question we all ask, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

I don't care where your life begins, what family you come from, or the status; we all have dreams! Some of us have incredible dreams of becoming someone amazing and doing something extraordinary. For me, I always knew I would be a dancer, a performer! Since I was 4 years old, I knew I would own the stage. I always saw myself in front of a crowd and standing in the spotlight. What I never saw was myself becoming an ovarian cancer survivor. Not once, but twice! What child sees cancer in their future? I sure didn't!

Life changes in an instant

At age 18, I was just beginning life and it was good. I had just graduated from high school, I was working a great job, moved into my new apartment, and was in love. What more could I ask for? I was blissfully enjoying my new life and freedom, with one exception. There was a pain and discomfort developing and it was refusing to go away.

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My first few trips to the emergency room were quickly diagnosed as UTI/bladder infection. I was given pain meds and antibiotics and sent home. But that never worked. The next series of ER visits would upgrade to checking my kidneys and liver.

The first knock from cancer

Finally, after several months back and forth, I went to a different ER late one night. I broke down and just cried. I begged the doctor to find out what was wrong! By this time I had been tested for countless UTIs and infections, including STDs (humiliating). But what no one had done was a CT scan, ultrasound, and a full pelvic exam. Why not? Because my reality was a young black woman with no insurance at the time. No one was obligated to help me. However, I had a female physician who cared. After being there for several hours, my life changed with two words...ovarian cancer!

I was referred to an oncologist, who confirmed the diagnosis. I wish I could tell you that I left there courageously ready to take on this cancer and all was well. [insert the Rocky theme music!] Nah, I cried like a baby because I was 18 and still a baby. But after a few days, I knew I had to fight. Armed with my strong faith in God, I began treatment. I declined surgery and fought for my reproductive organs. Thankfully after a year, I was in remission. And in the years following, I became the proud mother to three beautiful children who are now 24, 22, and 21.

Here comes the second knock

I continued to get follow-up care faithfully for the first 10 years. Over time, I let life and personal matters get in my way. In 2015, I started to feel very familiar feelings again. I could swear I was hearing the knocking again. Initially, I ignored it. Perhaps it was just a bladder infection.

However, this time my friend made sure it would not be ignored. Now the knock came with bleeding, cramping, and bloating, as well as major fatigue. This time I went to my ob-gyn and a specialist. And once again, I heard those two life-changing words...ovarian cancer. After 18 years, it decided to knock and visit me again.

This time in a far more aggressive stage. I was stage 3C. This meant immediate surgery and chemotherapy. I am now stage 4, as it further metastasized. However, I continue to fight fiercely and survive daily!

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