Today, we’re honored and grateful to tell the story of Jenny Keenan, a 27-year-old ovarian cancer survivor. We are grateful to highlight a small part of Jenny’s story and had the opportunity to talk about all things survivorship during Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.
“It all started when I woke up one morning with excruciating cramps. The pain was so severe, I wasn’t even able to get up to get dressed. I was able to make an appointment with my gynecologist where a pelvic exam and ultrasound were performed. I was notified that my IUD had been displaced and that I had large 4 cm cysts on both ovaries. I was placed on pelvic rest and progesterone pills in the hopes that my cysts would shrink. Six weeks later, the doctor called and told me the best course of action was to test my CA-125 since the cysts did not appear to be changing. I remember the doctor calling to say I needed an MRI done by a gynecological oncologist and four hours after that, I saw “10cm cyst on left ovary” on my patient portal. I was scheduled for surgery and went over the possibility of it being cancer with my doctor. I signed all the papers, giving her consent to perform a hysterectomy if it was widespread cancer. We had a deal that if the biopsy came back mid-surgery as cancerous, but not widespread, she would close me up so I could freeze my eggs before any further treatment. I went into surgery anticipating a four week recovery from the laparoscopic cystectomy and when I woke up, I learned that I would never be able to have children of my own and that my doctor also had to perform a laparotomy radical hysterectomy, appendectomy, and omentectomy. That is how I was diagnosed with stage 3c Low Grade serous carcinoma ovarian cancer.”
“To me, Ovarian Cancer Awareness is vital to not only my future but the future of all the women out there. I wish women knew that there are no routine screening tests for this cancer, that it can affect women of any age despite the general assumption it can only happen to older women. The type of ovarian cancer I had is very rare and does not receive a lot of attention or funding for research. Everybit of information and education counts and can mean the difference between life or death. Being a cancer survivor to me feels like a superpower. I often forget what I actually went through and what I actually survived and when it finally dawns on me, I feel the biggest rush of joy and happiness. ”
“The area I desperately wish I was better prepared for was that transition from treatment to survivorship. One of the hardest moments in my journey was the day after my last chemo- all I had thought about and all everyone talked about for 6 months was getting through chemo and once that was completed I was lost. No one had talked about the hardships that come with survivorship. It’s a difficult transition when you go from being under doctor supervision every week for months and months to then being free for months at a time. It’s nerve wracking and something I know other survivors also struggled with. I also would have liked to be better prepared for the new reality of body changes, mindset changes, and how to become okay with the new uncertainty of wondering if the cancer will come back.”
“Survivorship for me looks like living my life to the fullest for about 5 months and then living like a ball of anxiety for the month leading up to my scan. Survivorship also looks like me always finding a way to bring up ovarian cancer when appropriate because I am so proud to be a survivor and always look to spread awareness. On the outside, my life post-cancer treatment probably looks pretty normal. But on the inside, life looks different. A different view on life and my body and just everything. I struggle daily with the changes cancer caused, both mentally and physically.”
Jenny, we are so grateful for your wisdom and for sharing your story with the VivorCare community. Thank YOU for allowing us to share your experience.