Portrait of advocate Debbie

Advocate Spotlight: Debbie

AdvancedOvarianCancer.net shares the stories and experiences of people living with ovarian cancer. We are highlighting the story of our advocate Debbie who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April 2013. Since her diagnosis, Debbie has dedicated her time to sharing her story and supporting others living with cancer.

This is Debbie's story...

A shocking cancer diagnosis

I was 43 when I started seeing a fertility specialist in February 2013 as I was not ovulating and my husband and I wanted to have children. I was in the initial testing phases when the doctor did a hysterosonogram and saw a large cyst on my right ovary. He sent me for a pelvic ultrasound, which confirmed the cyst. They referred me to a gynecologic oncologist for surgery.

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My initial surgery was on April 1. They removed a 6cm x 7cm x 4cm endometrial cyst and my left ovary. On April 9, 2013, I was diagnosed with stage 1c clear cell ovarian cancer. I had a second surgery to make sure there was no more cancer. My stage stayed the same. I had no symptoms of endometriosis or ovarian cancer.

From surgery to chemotherapy

I had an interperitonial port placed during my second surgery as there was a possibility they found more cancer lower in my pelvis. A couple of days before starting chemotherapy, I had an IV port placed. Unfortunately when the time came my IP port did not work, so they changed my chemo and I received 6 cycles of IV Carboplatin and Taxol.

Facing my cancer with support and information

I was blessed because my mom is also a cancer survivor and I learned from her what I needed to do and not do. I chose the day I shaved my head (control the controllable). I asked for a cancer center dietitian consult. I needed to know how to eat so I could keep the fatigue away as I had to work in the weeks between chemo.

I had a great support system in my family, husband, and friends. A group from church brought us meals the week after I had chemo, and I received a lot of cards and letters from friends and family. My husband went to every appointment and treatment with me, as well as made sure I ate and took my anti-nausea medications on schedule.

My encouragement for those newly diagnosed

If I could give personal advice to anyone newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer it would be 1) breathe. This is not a death sentence. Yes, it changes life as you know it, but you don't have an expiration date stamped on you. 2) Control the controllable. You can control when you shave your head, manage your pain and nausea, how active you are, and how you are going to do the new you.

My advocacy why

It took me a while, but now there are several ways I advocate. I share my story and information via social media. I write a blog about my experiences. I also share my story through a program called Survivors Teaching Students, Saving Women's Lives. This past September I also became an Advocacy Leader for a national organization and take my story as well as all my Teal Sisters' stories to our elected officials on Capitol Hill.

Something most people don't know...

I'm now 52. I love photography, crochet, reading, and coloring. I love babies and children. I have a mother's heart and no children of my own. I get joy from working in daycare with "my babies" and all of my nieces, nephews, and friends' children.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AdvancedOvarianCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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