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 AdventHealth’s efforts to combat this strong, silent type of cancer.
The Strong, Silent Type
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.
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 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 left fallopian tube and ovary. The outer layer of the lower section of my colon as well as the saline wash of my pelvic cavity were also 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 AdventHealth 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 addition to chemotherapy, Dr. Holloway prescribed a medication recently approved by the FDA, thanks in part to a clinical trial at AdventHealth Cancer Institute. Today, I’m cancer-free.
AdventHealth Cancer Institute
I can share my story thanks to progress toward finding a cure. Here in Central Florida, Dr. Holloway is one of the physicians at AdventHealth 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 AdventHealth 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.
Karen Ingalls, Grateful Patient
P.S. Join me in breaking the silence on ovarian cancer. Visit www.FloridaHospital.com/Strong to make a gift, schedule an appointment and learn more about signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.