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Gynecological Cancer Survivor Stories 

Melky's Journey

My name is Melky Morales. I am married to my husband, Carlos, and have four beautiful children. I had been a stay-at-home mom for the last 10 years; I am an active woman who takes care of her kids by taking them to their extracurricular and activities. My unknown cancer journey began in 2020. I was experiencing abdominal pain and heavy bleeding. I went to the gynecologist and the doctor found cysts in the lining of my uterus. Therefore, I needed to have a hysteroscopy. However, I was working at the time and I kept rescheduling the surgery.

 

Most of the time, I felt exhausted. Consequently, it got to a point where I couldn't deal with the severe pain. Finally, I got the procedure completed in October of 2021. The doctor suggested to schedule another meeting to discuss the biopsy results. At the age of 41 years-old, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIC carcinosarcoma of the uterus. Because it was a high-grade aggressive uterine cancer that involved 50% muscle invasion and 1 pelvic lymph node metastasis, I was put on very intensive treatment plans that included six cycles of chemotherapy.

 

My husband and I were terrified when we heard the news from the provider. We were uncertain how to share this news with our children. I had to make lifestyle changes including diet and exercise, but also in my personal development by reading devotionals and developing the power of reflection. I am blessed to have a supportive system that helped my family cope with this situation. For the kids, they participated in many events both remotely and in-person that would help ease their minds away from this new reality. An increase of faith arose in the midst of this huge battle.

We trained ourselves to grow closer in our relationship with God and knowing that all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). I am officially in remission as of March 2022!

 

I strongly advise women to pause and listen to their bodies. If you feel any irregularity in your body, check in with your provider immediately.

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Tanya's Journey

I want to say that it’s very important that you get yourself checked out like the doctors tell you, because something so little can turn out to be bigger then you expect. I started my battle with ovarian cancer in 2020.

After watching my my mom battle with lung cancer for over fiver years I can remember when we found out the doctors told us she only had a year to live. That was not the case she stayed with us for five years me and my daughter took care of her and she asked me not to put her in hospice so I didn’t do that. I had the nurses the chaplain in the CNA workers come out to the house to help with her. In April of 2020 my mom passed away from lung cancer.

 

In September of 2020 I started my battle. I had been in pain for two weeks- my stomach was hurting me so bad, but I didn’t go to the doctor right away. I kept going to work and taking Tylenol to deal with the pain. One morning I got up for work and the pain I was in was unbearable for me to deal with. I went to a urgent care and the doctors told me to go to West Allis Memorial Hospital. So I got back to the car and told my sister-in-law I cold just go back home, take some Tylenol and lay down. She said girl that ain’t what the people told you- they told you to go to the hospital right away. So she took me to the hospital right away.  When I arrived at the hospital, they were waiting for me. I waited in the waiting room less then five minutes. I got in the back put on a gown and they began to run tests on me, they took an ultrasound and told me they were waiting on the doctors to look things over. Once the doctors looked things over the nurse came back in the room and told me they were going to admit me the hospital.

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At this point I was scared and didn’t know what to think. Tears started coming down my face, and I just was like lord what ever us going on with me please see me through it. I called my sister-in-law and told her they were keeping me. I made a phone call home to tell my adult children and then one came to the hospital to stay with me once I got on the floor. The nurse who was taking care of me told me I will take good care of you and the doctor will be in to talk with you and let you know what’s going on.

 

When the doctor came in my room my daughter was there to listen, we both asked questions, and he told me I was getting emergency surgery in the morning. He told me I had a crystal in my left tube that was a size of a balloon. They told me they were going to remove the tube and I asked them if they could take pictures for me so I can see it.

 

That morning they did the surgery.  After the surgery I stayed in the hospital for two more days. I went home and did everything they told me to do, including following up with the doctor. The test came back from the lab and the tube showed something so I ended up at Dr. Dickson's office. She came in and explained everything to me and my god-mother; yes I was in tears, but she gave me options and I told her at this point I want to live so do the second surgery. She then explained to me the treatments and side effects including me losing my hair etc.

 

At this point the only thing that matters to me is that I live so I did the treatments. I was told six chemotherapy treatments, but I only did five of them and in the mix of me doing them I caught Covid. I still never lost my faith in god. I also had a very good support team from my family. I mean I was very sick and weak, but I prayed and asked god to see me through it and touch every doctor and nurse that look after us. He did just that.

 

I still deal with a lot of after chemo symptoms, but I survived the worst part, & I beat it with his help. I had wonderful people around me. I can tell that some people are still passionate about their jobs. Thanks to everyone that helped me along my battle.

Renee's Journey

My journey started in June of 2011 with a visit to my doctor and complaints of pre menopausal symptoms.  My doctor decided to be on the safe side and ordered an ultrasound, just to make sure nothing else was going on.  This led to surgery and chemotherapy for Stage III Ovarian Cancer.  I learned very quickly that ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer among women because the symptoms can be so subtle and mirror the typical symptoms of menopause.  I unknowingly had a grapefruit sized tumor in my abdomen!  Ten years later, after many years of close observation, I had surgery again.  This time I ended up with a colostomy and a urostomy.  My life has changed so much, but I am grateful for every day I am here to spend with my family.  Great advances are being made with treatment for ovarian cancer and now, thanks to genomic testing, I will be able to start a more systemic type of treatment.  I urge anyone wondering about their symptoms to keep searching for answers to rule out this sneaky type of cancer!!

Teri's Journey

I went to my PCP thinking I was having a very bad episode of GERD and diverticulitis because of the intense pain in my upper and lower gut. Doctor said he wanted a CT immediately and sent me to the UW Madison ER. There the doctor said I had cancer. I asked questions she could not answer and in that the CT was not done with contrast I didn't think she had a correct diagnosis. I spoke with my primary the next day and she agreed it could be a misdiagnosis, so she requested a consult with the Carbone Center. They scheduled a CT with contrast and 2 biopsies (because the 1st was a no result obtained).

 

My follow up with a GynOnc Doctor turned out turned out to be with the head of the department because mine was a rare cancer in the ovarian cancer family. He confirmed it was Adenocarcinoma of Mullerian origin, primary peritoneal cancers Stage 3C and metastatic ascites. 6 rounds of 2 types of chemo every 3 weeks with a 6 week break after round 3 due to a bowel blockage triggered by the chemo, upside when that wasn't resolve conservatively the open gut surgery also allowed doctor access to the Omentum which was the site of most of the tumors. They ablated most of the tumors leaving those <3mm and smaller. 3 more cycles of the two chemo meds took 4 more months to finish because of typical blood work issues.

 

Last chemo was in Nov 2021, PET scan 12/2021 showed CANCER WAS GONE!! I have since had 2- 3 month follow up visits which are still cancer free, next is 8/2022 which we are predicting to again being cancer free. Through all of this I worked as I could, but with the 6 weeks off my STD didn't cover bills and the wonderful team at WOCA helped keep a roof over my head. I can't say thank you enough. The picture is me with 6 months of hair regrowth.

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