• Camelia Brande

Ovarian cancer. Sharing experience and facts

May 8th is World Ovarian Cancer day, so we decided to write about this topic and spread awareness. We believe it is important to spread positivity and to encourage women that are going through this experience. Therefore, one lovely member of our community decided to share her journey with us.💙


A personal journey of Michelle King:

Lovely Michelle, firstly, tell us a bit more about yourself 💛:

“I am 29 years old and I am from Indianapolis, IN, USA. A few hobbies of mine are watching documentaries, listening to true crime podcasts, and spending time with my 3 dogs and husband. My diagnosis was Stage 2 Ovarian Cancer.”

How did you find out about your diagnosis🔎?

“My diagnosis was a long journey to finding out exactly what was wrong with me. I was in a lot of abdominal pain for 3 months before I found out what was wrong with me. I had gone to a few doctors and they all thought I just had intestinal issues and would prescribe me medications to help me go to the bathroom. That was my biggest issue. I became very constipated all the time and very bloated. I had xrays of my intestines and according to the doctors I was fine. It wasn’t until like I mentioned before 3 months of pain and then shortness of breath that my husband took me to the Emergency Room and they did a CT Scan and noticed my ovary had a tumor the size of a baseball and was causing my organs to be pushed up. At that point they had me see a Gynecological Oncologist. My doctor wasn’t able to diagnose me exactly with cancer until my surgery to confirm it was cancer. Before surgery I had asked my doctor to please save my uterus and other ovary if possible because my greatest desire was to have children. Unfortunately, for my safety she said if it was cancer she would need to do a full hysterectomy. Due to my tumor being cancerous I had to have a full hysterectomy and that is when I was diagnosed with having ovarian cancer stage 2.”


How did it influence your life after the diagnosis🔍?

“When my husband and I received the news in the Emergency Room about me having a tumor the size of a baseball, we were scared. I remember crying myself to sleep for the whole week before my surgery. It was very emotionally exhausting for both of us. We were both hoping it was benign, but preparing ourselves for it being cancer. I am very lucky to have a very supportive family and husband. Now and since the surgery they have been taking care of me and I am not working.”


Is the lockdown somehow affecting you more than normal 🏡? “Honestly, I feel that I have been in lockdown since August! My family has been very protective of me. When I was going through Chemo I was extremely weak and my immune system was very low, so I wasn’t around many people and stayed away from large crowds like the grocery stores. So it all feels pretty normal to me. I do go out for walks around my home with my husband and dogs but that is about as much as I leave the house! I actually have been enjoying the lockdown a little because my husband has been working from home so I get to spend extra time with him ”

Do you have any recommendations for women who get diagnosed👭?

“The only piece of advice I have is that it is ok if you feel like your world is falling apart, cry it out and vent to those you trust and love. My favorite quote right now is “Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine.” Things may not be good right now, but if you fight you will beat this and live!

I read an amazing book about being a woman and going through cancer. It’s called Pretty Sick. It definitely helped me understand things the doctors did not explain about cancer. It is written by a woman who went through breast cancer but it applies to all types of cancers. I definitely recommend reading it!”

Recommendation of Michelle: Book Pretty Sick - The beauty guide for women with cancer from Caitlin M. Kiernan



“This is the day I decided to cut my hair because it was falling out in chunks.”

“This was my last day of chemo!”



“This is me now with my hair slowly growing back ”


Thank you Michelle from the whole Kohe Lele team and everyone else, who is reading this story. We are convinced that this story will raise further awareness for ovary cancer and empower women to openly talk about it 💪. You are truly an inspiring woman and we wish you all the best on your further journey 💚!

Would you like to connect with Michelle👨‍💻👩‍💻? Or have some additional questions? Feel free to reach out or simply follow her life, dog and cancer journey on Instagram @miichellekiing 💌!


Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is a type of cancer that appears in the ovaries, affecting one or both of them. Ovaries are in charge of producing eggs and are connected to the uterus through the fallopian tubes. This type of cancer appears when tissue cells of the ovary have a mutation in their DNA and start to spread exponentially, causing a mass (tumor) of abnormal cells.

Epithelial ovarian cancer facts:

  • Is the most common cause of gynecological cancer deaths

  • Annually worldwide, 230’000 will be diagnosed and 150’000 will die

  • It is the seventh most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the world

  • It has a 46% of survival after diagnosis

  • If detected early, it has a 92% survival rate

  • 75% of women are diagnosed at an advanced stage because of the lack of symptoms

  • 15% of women diagnosed have a genetic predisposition to epithelial ovarian cancer

What are the risk factors? As this type of cancer can have a high chance of survival if detected early, it is important to know the risk factors:

  • Number of lifetime ovulations: absence of pregnancy, early age of menstruation and late age at menopause

  • Family history of epithelial ovarian cancer

  • Smoking

  • Gynecological conditions that are benign (tumors that do not turn into cancer): endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome and pelvic inflammatory disease

What are the symptoms?

Unfortunately, EOC symptoms are not specific, making it difficult for a diagnosis at an earlier stage. Some of these symptoms might occur but do not exclude other conditions:

  • Abdominal bloating

  • Early satiety (you feel full after eating a portion of your meal)

  • Nausea

  • Abdominal distension

  • Change in bowel function

  • Urinary symptoms

  • Back pain

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of weight

Prevention and early detection

Currently, the best way to prevent and to detect early is by identification of patients that are at an increased genetic risk. If someone in your family has/had ovarian cancer or breast cancer, it is important to talk with your GP to determine your own risk of cancer. Furthermore, it is advised to consult a genetic doctor, who can perform a genetic test for you in order to assess your predisposition to ovarian cancer.


Treatment

Surgery

  • Primary debulking surgery (surgical removal of the tumor and the affected tissue), followed by chemotherapy (treatment with substances that stop the multiplication of cells).

  • Women with an early diagnosis can opt for fertility conservation surgery. During this surgery, the uterus and the healthy ovary can be left in place; this decision is taken after carefully considering the risks and benefits, and being discussed with the patient and the surgical oncologist.

Systemic therapy

  • Intravenous administration of chemotherapeutic substances that aim to stop the multiplication of abnormal cells.

Future perspectives

Researchers are continuously working on developing new strategies of treatment and are doing clinical trials of drugs, called antibodies. These antibodies can target the abnormal cells, causing the cancer, without affecting the healthy cells.


💙


Stay tuned 🌺🐝!


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