“I’m eternally grateful to my doctor for taking it seriously as other doctors have said they wouldn’t have worried about it,” she said. “I had no idea I had anything wrong with me. I hadn’t really heard of ovarian cancer and had no idea of the symptoms.”
“I’m so grateful to research. Even though I still have cancer, the trial medicine (VS-6766) I’m taking is shrinking my tumors” she said. “If you’re experiencing a certain pain every day, please tell your doctor. Ask for an ultrasound. You know your body more than anyone and if you have a gut feeling something isn’t right, get it checked out,” she said.
“My students have been phenomenal. They have been caring and considerate. We have talked about cancer, chemotherapy, side effects and more. I’ve given them the opportunity to ask me anything about what I’m experiencing. They ask, and I answer. Teaching French and sharing my journey with my students has become very special to me.
Karen was watched closely for five years and remains cancer free to this day. “Most women with my cancer aren’t this lucky. Luck shouldn’t come into it. I’m hopeful that future research will improve outcomes for people with ovarian cancer.”
“People seem to get excited when they hear I have low-grade, like it’s good that it’s slow growing. But it’s also hard to treat, and it affects younger women, even younger than me,” she said. “There’s not a ton of research still. I do know that they learn new things every day. It’s hard to make plans for the future when you don’t know what that looks like.”
“I don’t live like there’s an end in sight, it can put too much pressure on every situation,” she said. “Just be present and commit to every experience.”
“I just remember asking my mom what the results were and seeing her in tears,” she said. “I was so drugged up, but I remember that emotional pain like it was yesterday.”
“Ovarian cancer is deadly, under-researched, under-funded, difficult to treat, and has a very low survival rate,” she said. “I hope a cure will be discovered so that other ladies do not have to go through the pain and trauma this cancer has caused me and my family.”
“Looking back, now I can think of times my lower back hurt, or I had increased frequency of urination or heartburn, but nothing I thought was severe enough to mention to a doctor,” she said.
Ashley, who has two young sons and will celebrate her 10-year anniversary with her husband in July, was petrified that she might not have long to live after hearing the rarity of her diagnosis. She is hopeful for additional funding for research into better treatments for low-grade serous cancer.