Ellie was diagnosed with stage 3C low-grade serous ovarian cancer in 2021 at the age of 27.
She had been told for years that she had IBS, but felt like there was something else wrong.
“I tried elimination diets and medication but nothing helped,” she said. “The one thing that really struck me was that I would have intense pain and bloating with sex and even though multiple gastroenterologists told me it was food related, I felt like sex shouldn’t hurt because onion and garlic are hard to digest. So I kept pushing for more tests and eventually a doctor said ‘maybe you have endometriosis.’”
The diagnostic tests did find endometriosis, and also a large tumor on her ovary.
“I’ve been able to keep living — I got married, bought a house,” she said. “But when I was little, I didn’t dream of being bald from chemotherapy at my wedding.”
Another struggle is infertility.
“I was lucky enough to retrieve eggs and freeze five embryos before losing both of my ovaries but it’s such a finite number of chances. The fact that I can’t carry them is devastating and surrogacy is extremely expensive,” she said. “It’s challenging to have such important parts of your life feel so out of your control.”
After recovering from surgery and finishing chemotherapy, Habib is taking the aromatase inhibitor Letrozole and continuing to work as a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing.
“I love working with children and families,” she said. “I’ve always dreamed about being a mom and I really hope I still have the opportunity to fulfill that dream.”
“I want people to know that you have the right to push for more testing if something doesn’t feel right. I think many doctors dismiss the concerns of younger women but ovarian cancer does not discriminate by age.”