In 2017, my world was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with stage 3C dysgerminoma, a rare germ cell form of ovarian cancer, in my late 20s. This was a huge surprise, as there is no history of cancer on either side of my family.
I woke up on a Sunday morning with lower abdominal pain and lower back pain. I thought I had a kidney infection, so I went to my primary care doctor the next day for some antibiotics. My doctor wanted to feel and listen to my abdomen just to make sure nothing crazy was going on. He felt a hard spot and sent me to the emergency room to get a CT scan, thinking it might have been a bowel blockage or a hernia causing the pain.
The scan showed something more. I had a mass larger than a basketball consuming my left ovary. The following day I went to my regular gynecologist for an ultrasound, which showed the mass even more in-depth. She referred me to a gynecological oncologist. Nine days later, I had surgery to remove the mass (which had grown two centimeters in size since it was discovered), my left ovary, and most of the lymph nodes throughout my abdomen. Two weeks later, I went back for my results and to discuss a plan of action.
I received 28 aggressive infusions over the course of three months. I started to lose my hair after the first week of treatment. Any female will know that your hair is a part of your identity, so a piece of me was gone. I truly looked like a cancer patient, and people would stare at me. That was one of the hardest parts, but I always kept a smile on my face. The three months did fly by. There were several hospital stays throughout those months for various reasons, most of which were from the side effects of the strong chemo. After chemo, I opted to have a total hysterectomy as a preventative measure. It was definitely a hard decision to make as a single 28-year-old with no children, but my health had to come first.
I am happy to say that I am almost four years into a cancer-free lifestyle. I use the term lifestyle because my life has a new normal filled with scans and blood work and the permanent side effects from the chemo. My scars are a part of me. My life has forever changed. There is no looking back. I enjoy sharing my story with others to help raise awareness for ovarian cancer and to encourage others that they will get through this. My oncologist has told me several times that I shouldn’t have made it and believes my positive attitude is what kept me alive.
By Morgan Wade