A woman lies down and clutches an empty space where she's wishing her growing womb was

From Family Dreams to Diagnosis (Part 1)

I never thought at 37 I would be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This wasn’t a disease I even had on my radar. I was too young they said. This isn’t something someone your age should have to deal with.

Guess what? They were wrong. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with stage 3A Granulosa Cell Tumor (GCT) ovarian cancer.

Where my story begins...

I had stopped birth control after my wedding in 2011 and it took until February 2014 when I finally became pregnant. We were beyond excited that it had finally happened. We were going to be parents. At my 12-week checkup, it was confirmed that I had a miscarriage.

Discovering my stage 1 ovarian cancer

In January 2015 we met with the fertility specialist and when he reviewed my history and saw that I had a dermoid cyst for over 5 years, he decided he wanted a current ultrasound done. He agreed it was a dermoid cyst, but it appeared that it may be slightly larger than images seen just a few months before. We removed the cyst to help increase our chances of becoming pregnant and free up room with the ovary.

On August 10th 2015, the doctor told me that we needed to put things on hold. Behind the cyst there was a small tumor and that I had stage 1 ovarian cancer.

I met a gynecologic oncologist and decided we would remove the ovary/fallopian tube on the right side, de-bulk, and confirm my stage. The plan was to get this cancer fully out of my body and proceed with fertility treatments and move on with my life.

Then my ovarian cancer spread

Microscopic traces of the cancer were found on my left abdomen wall, meaning the cancer had leaked outside the right ovary and had made its way to the opposite side of my body. My left ovary was clear, so they kept it. I was moved up to stage 3A. Although the traces of cancer were microscopic, it was recommended that we be aggressive and treat this with six rounds of chemotherapy, Carboplatin and Taxol.

We decided to proceed with In vitro fertilization (IVF) retrieving eggs from the good ovary before chemo, fertilizing them, and freezing the embryos until we were ready to proceed again. They extracted 8 eggs and fertilized them, but our worst fears were confirmed when they told us none of them survived. I had put my body through so much in 12 weeks, but we had to take the chance. We hoped and prayed that my left ovary would successfully survive chemo.

Chemotherapy, IUI and possible breast cancer

Treatment started in October 2015. I received chemo every 3 weeks, finishing February 2016.

In early 2017, we unsuccessfully tried Intrauterine insemination (IUI). We were about to start IVF again and were notified that my ATM gene mutation was officially connected to breast cancer. Then we found out my grandmother had breast cancer, and her mother had passed from it years ago. I was told I had up to a 60% chance of getting breast cancer sometime in my lifetime, based on history, my ovarian cancer, and now the gene.

Removing my other ovary

In July 2017, we removed my other ovary. This reduced my chances of ovarian cancer even more, but I would no longer be able to have children naturally.

Read the continuation of Vicki's story in From Family Dreams to Diagnosis (Part 2).

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