Megan Satterwhite of Florida Hospital Foundation interviewed me for the letter below. The Foundation works diligently to raise funds and equally important to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. My humble thanks to her and the Foundation for all they do.
LOOKING FOR THE
STRONG, SILENT TYPE?
YOU SHOULD BE
YOU SHOULD BE.
With vague symptoms and often-late diagnoses, ovarian cancer fits the bill.
I share my story to raise awareness, and I hope you’ll join me in support of
Florida Hospital’s efforts to combat this strong, silent type of cancer.
I’d always been health-conscious. When I started gaining weight, I kicked my
fitness routine into high gear. After going up a size rather than down, I made a
mental note to discuss the issue with my local gynecologist in Minnesota at
my annual appointment. (PAP smears do NOT detect ovarian cancer)
Sitting in the exam room, I was proud of my good health as I answered my
doctor’s questions. My confidence quickly turned to fear when the pelvic exam
began, and I felt an unusual amount of discomfort. “I feel a mass,” my
doctor said, and my eyes welled with tears.
An MRI confirmed a honeydew melon-sized mass outside my uterus. I was
referred to a gynecological oncologist, who determined that I needed a
complete hysterectomy and tumor removal.
A “simple” hysterectomy would take two to three hours, but if the tumor was
malignant, I’d be in surgery longer. When I awoke in recovery six hours later, I
moaned, “Oh, no.” My doctor held my hand and said, “I’m so sorry.”
I was diagnosed with stage IIC ovarian cancer. The mass had invaded my
colon. The outer layer of the lower section of my colon as well as the saline wash of my pelvic cavity were cancerous with a malignant mixed Mullerian tumor. This rare and aggressive sarcoma gave me about a 50 percent chance of long-term survival.
After six rounds of chemotherapy, I got word that my most-recent scan
showed no signs of cancer. Together, my husband, Jim and I cried tears of
relief. Though we’d been “snowbirding” in Florida for a while, we decided
to move there permanently. I began seeing Robert Holloway, M.D., at
Florida Hospital for follow-up care.
My regular exams and blood work were normal for a while, but I had a
recurrence a few years later in 2014. In addition to chemotherapy, Dr. Holloway
prescribed a medication (Avastin) recently approved by the FDA, thanks in part to a
clinical trial at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute.
Today, I’m cancer-free. I can share my story thanks to progress toward finding a cure. Here in Central Florida, Dr. Holloway is one of the physicians at Florida Hospital
promoting clinical trials related to gynecological cancer. His diligence and
persistence are paying off, and I’m thankful to be in his care.
I believe in Florida Hospital and Dr. Holloway’s work there. All proceeds
from my book, Outshine, An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, are directed toward
his research, and I hope you’ll consider joining me in support of his efforts.
Clinical trials are crucial to the development of new and improved protocols
for cancer patients. Your gift helps bring us one step closer to a cure.
(Some editing was done for the purpose of this blog)
Please send your donation to: Florida Hospital Foundation
550 East Rolling Street, Sixth Floor
Orlando, FL. 32803