My Survival Story
On October 18th, 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer. At 27 years old, I never thought I would have to fight for my life as a newlywed and a new mother. My body was starting to shutdown weeks earlier with a DVT in my leg, elevated calcium levels, and overall deteriorating health as I carried our first child - Shiloh. On October 14th, two days after my 27th birthday, I texted my OB/GYN because after eating ice cream I didn't feel my son was moving enough in the womb. She urged me to visit the Labor & Delivery department at our local hospital to check on the baby. Hours later, the ultrasound and heartbeat monitors confirmed Shiloh was okay but the technician's hand slipped up by accident and with fear in her eyes she exclaimed, "Oh my God, what is that?" She was looking at three tumors hemorrhaging on my liver. They also found a pulmonary embolism and it felt as if the sky was beginning to fall.
The next morning I was transferred to INOVA Fairfax, VA and after numerous tests and blood work, the large team of specialists decided I needed emergency surgery to deliver our son and to find out what was going on in my body. On October 18th, 2016 at 8:00AM, the doctors rolled me into the operating room and would deliver heartbreaking news the next time I opened my eyes. At 11pm the same day, my eyes fluttered open to a dark room with my lifeline making high pitched beeps, a tube jutting out of my throat, and IVs like cables connected to both arms. It was the ICU. My mom was the person who told me: son was healthy and in the NICU, they found cancer, and they took everything (uterus and ovaries).
The next six months would be the hardest of my life. Surgery recovery was difficult but chemotherapy would be harder still. After my first round of chemo, I shaved my head. I would not let cancer take my hair, so I took it myself. Balancing being a newlywed and new mother was hard as I had a pharmacy next to my bed with pain killers, steroids, and other various chemo drugs. Sixteen rounds of chemotherapy later, I looked down at the CT scan results with frail chemo-ridden hands - "No evidence of recurrent or residual disease".
Now my hair prickles back and makes shadows on my scalp. My body aches triumphantly every night after work from moving through the day, and the scars tattooed on my chest and stomach have begun to slowly fade. I cringed when I smell an alcohol wipe because the memories of chemo come crashing back - but I have to keep going. I didn't survive for nothing. I am the 45%.