My name is Mandi and I am currently 24 and a survivor of Metastatic Ovarian Cancer. I was diagnosed in Feb 2013 via an ER visit. I went to the hospital thinking I had a gall bladder problem, but within 48 hours I was diagnosed and in emergency surgery to remove the tumors. I lost both of my ovaries due to the tumors, one tumor was 7 pounds while the other was 4 pounds. I got to keep my uterus as it was not infected with cancer. My cancer was very aggressive. I had only had symptoms for at most a month and by the time I had surgery I was in stage 4. But that's the problem, I did not know the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer and with being in a ward with other cancer survivors and fighters I found out that most women diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer didn't know the symptoms either. Some of their doctors had wrongly diagnosed them as well.
My journey with cancer was nearly a year long and it was not easy in the least. I had 3 very aggressive chemos given to me at one time. I would have to check into the hospital for a week straight every two weeks. My treatment was 5 days long 8-10 hours a treatment. On my first treatment I had an allergic reaction and my right long partially collapsed, which was one of the side effects of the chemos. They thankfully fixed me having reactions to it with other medicines but the damage was already done. The nurse who had forgot to give me my pre-treatment was immediately let go of her job. I had never seen my older sister look so scared in her life and by this time we had sent our older brother off to war, twice. My brother was currently overseas when I was diagnosed. I would get calls from him late at night, but early morning for him, and I couldhear the fear in his voice. My mom refused to shave my head when my hair started falling out and when later questioned she told me it was because as long as I still had hair then in her mind I wasn't sick. I told her it would eventually all be gone anyways and I wanted the power to determine when that happened and I wanted her help in it. We shaved my head that afternoon.
It seemed everyone around me was terrified and getting bogged down by fear but ME. I was determined I was going to beat this and if I didn't then I was going to go out kicking and screaming. I had lost my Nana to cancer. She had survived Ovarian Cancer only to pass away from Cervical Cancer 4 years later. But she fought it for as long as she could. I knew if she could fight then so could I. A part of me was determined to not let her down. I think that's what sets people apart from each other. Everyone handles difficult situations in different ways. I decided that I was going to handle mine with a positive outlook. The doctors and nurses were so shocked with how well I handled everything. I'm not going to sit here and lie and say I wasn't scared, because I was. But there will be a lot of times in life when you're scared, but you can't freeze up in fear. You have to push through it. I latched onto where I wanted my life to be in 5, 10, 20 years and I held onto those dreams for dear life. I made lists of places I wanted to go, things I was GOING to do. Even when I had to write up my living will I did it with the thought of 'this is not needed but I'm going to do it just to do it.' I also put my faith in God. I know not everyone is religious and that is fine, but I am. I talked to God, but I found myself talking about taking care of my family and friends in this time of stress and the unknown because I already knew he was taking care of me. Having faith in God was also a huge factor in me being positivethroughout everything.
I had been off chemo and in good standings for a few months when they found a tumor in the muscle under my breast. It is not considered breast cancer as it was not located directly in the breast. I had to have a surgery to remove the tumor to get it biopsied. Complications arose during surgery causing them to have to crack my whole breast bone open, but the tumor was non-cancerous. A month later I was rushed back to the hospital, where we found out about the "complication". The surgeon had accidently cut the sac around my heart and now my heart was surrounded my fluid. I was rushed into emergency surgery and had to stay awake during it and I spent a week in ICU. I was told my heart may never get better as it was "smothered" but just like when I had cancer I was determined to do anything I could do strengthen my heart. I was put on intense steroids that caused me to gain 100lbs in three months. But now I'm off all medicines and my heart is fine. But once again this was something I thought positively about and put my faith in God in.
Fighting cancer isn't this amazing thing, so don't think that is how I'm making it seem. I'm not. I had panic attacks, I got sick a lot and was in the hospital more then I was out of it while on chemo. My body is covered in scars that I used to be ashamed of but now I own them. It's not something I would willingly go through again, but if faced with it againI would handle it in the same exact way.
I had amazing support around me. My doctors (for the most part) were amazing, my nurses and I became friends, I met some awesome people. I am just saddened that Ovarian Cancer is not spoken about more. It is a silent killer to my fellow women and I have decided that given the chance I want to bring awareness to it, I just had no idea where to start. This is a start and I would just like to thank you for giving me a chance to tell my story. This is of course the abbreviated version. But it's a start.
I have been in remission for almost a year now as my doctors didn'tlabel me as officially in remission until Dec. 2013. I still get check ups every 3 months, I still panic the closer they get, I still have weight to lose that I gained due to the steroids..... But I am also able to say that I survived. My prayers go out to those who have lost family to Ovarian Cancer and my support is extended to anyone who is currently battling Ovarian Cancer.