Barbara’s Story

by Barbara S.
barbara_sanders
This December marks five years since my ovarian cancer diagnosis. Just six months later the cancer recurred. Women who have traveled this road understand. Diagnosis is frightening. Recurrence is devastating. No one talks about cure anymore. My journey has been filled with fear, frustration at how little advance we have seen in defeating this disease, and, at times, depression. It also has been a journey of discovery and hope.

I have discovered more strength and grit than I ever thought possible and today I have more hope than at any time since my recurrence. After a number of surgeries, and a number of standard treatments that failed, a clinical trial saved my life. I am now on a monthly maintenance of Avastin.

I have been fortunate to have an Oncologist who switched treatments quickly if they did not appear to be working. But how many heavily damaging treatments could I have avoided if I had been profiled earlier? The Clearity Foundation is changing that for women who will follow me.

People have asked me why I think I’m still here fighting. They point out that I have family and friends who have loved and supported me throughout. They note my positive attitude. But many wonderful women with a lot of support, great attitudes and the will to live have died from this disease.

I only know what has helped me cope and continue fighting. My doctor said it well. I overheard him telling his new partner that I have been “fierce in involving” myself in my own care, reading, researching and learning all I could. I also have pushed myself out the door to hike on days when I didn’t really feel like it, keeping myself strong. Marching up a mountain is like conquering the enemy. I often thought of this battle as a goal post that kept moving on me. Sometimes I didn’t know if I could move with it again. But I have.

Two years ago hope was fading. Now my doctors describe my disease as chronic, something to be managed. I can live with that for now. I feel fortunate to be here. But I will never give up on a cure.