Like so many of us, I didn’t recognize my relatively mild symptoms – bloating, burping, loss of appetite and expanding waistline – until the abdominal pain started. My general practitioner quickly referred me to a gynecological oncologist. Surgery and chemo took its toll on me for more than a year. Then my body formed abdominal scar tissue and adhesions that required a second surgery. I am now permanently on a very bland, soft, low fiber/low residue diet. I’ll never again enjoy my favorite meal – a big bowl of spaghetti with salad, bread and wine. But I’m not complaining. I have carte blanche to eat as much ice cream as I want!
I also want to do as much as I can to prevent other women from experiencing this dreadful disease. That’s why I’m proud to be part of the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of San Diego’s teams, promoting education and research that facilitates the early diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer.
I’m Barbara H., a 25-year survivor of stage 2b grade 3 ovarian cancer. I experienced bloating, pelvic pain, urinary issues and a general sense that something was wrong. After being insistent, I was seen by a doctor who listened to me and within a week I was in surgery which found my ovarian cancer. The cancer was an endometrioid-like adenocarcinoma of the ovary, the closest diagnosis possible at the time.
I first learned about the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of San Diego in the summer of 2009. I had just retired and was attending a cancer survivorship celebration. I was introduced to Peg Ford and she invited me to join a group she had started to present the Survivors Teaching Students (STS) program to medical and nursing students. After attending a training class, I started presenting my story of diagnosis at STS presentations. After several years, I was encouraged to train to become a facilitator for the program. Since completing the training, it has been my honor to facilitate presentations for medical students, nursing students and others in the medical field.
The Ovarian Cancer Alliance of San Diego became a 501c(3) non-profit organization in 2014 and I became one of the early board members. Our organization has been active in the community sharing our message of early symptoms and risk factors so other women who are diagnosed are diagnosed early, as I was, so they too may have long term remissions. I continue to dance with NED, no evidence of disease.