October of 2019, I had my initial tumor removal via an oophorectomy. My oncologist was extremely empathetic and insisted that all measures would be taken to preserve my fertility given my age. However, on November 13, 2019, three weeks following my surgery, I received the most debilitating news of my life. Pathology results revealed ovarian and endometrial carcinoma and I was diagnosed with stage IIB ovarian and IA endometrial cancer. In an instant, my world darkened! I could not fathom how to accept this as my “new norm!”
I went from being hopeful to facing the reality of not only having cancer but also never being able to bare my own children. I was lost and broken hearted. However, I knew that I had to push through the pain.
Friends and loved ones often exclaim “You’re so strong!” or “You’re doing great!” Well, for me it literally is a matter of life or death. In the twinkling of an eye, I was faced with the decision to either give up or give my all to ward off the very MONSTER that is CANCER!
As of September 2020, I can now say that I have completed chemo followed by six cycles of radiation therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. My spirituality, treatment team and amazing support system have helped me to navigate these murky waters. Also, The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and The Clearity Foundation’s Steps Through OC program have played a vital role in my wellness journey. A peer navigator introduced me to the many services, particularly supportive counseling offered to women battling ovarian cancer.
Although I was fortunate to find Clearity, this is not the case for many African American women with ovarian and other gynecological cancers. Social determinants including limited access to healthcare and genetic predisposition maintain survivorship disparities. As a result, women of color are often misdiagnosed or diagnosed at later stages. Throughout this journey I’ve been asked several times how I plan to give back to others based upon what I’ve endured thus far. Overall, I simply aspire to be a beacon to other women sharing a similar plight. I want to help others to feel appreciated and supported during such a time. If I can help impact but just one woman, then I consider part of my life’s mission to be fulfilled.