Jill Dizard of Stanwood, Washington, was diagnosed with stage 3B low-grade serous ovarian cancer in 2022 at the age of 36.
She started noticing symptoms a year and a half earlier, including changes in her menstrual cycle as well as indigestion, decreased sex drive, fatigue and bloating.
“My main concern was my periods as that was the only thing that was giving me real evidence that something was off because I had been tracking them,” she said. “They were normally every 27 or 28 days and suddenly my cycles were getting longer, like 50 days with spotting in between.”
Blood tests and a pelvic exam came back normal, but the symptoms persisted until her stomach became extremely bloated and distended.
“A friend of mine said her nanny had the same symptom and it turned out to be ovarian cancer,” Jill said. “I kind of laughed it off like, oh, great, but thought I better make an appointment anyway.”
The CT scan showed tumors on both ovaries, as well as large volume ascites.
“I found out that I had advanced ovarian cancer during COVID so of course I was alone and they wouldn’t let my boyfriend (now husband) or anyone in there with me while they delivered this devastating news,” she said.
“They did eventually let him in but first they spoke with him over the phone and what they said made it sound like I did not have long to live. In addition to that, they had tears in their eyes when they were telling me,” she said. “I can understand being human and telling someone something so awful and being compassionate but I left there feeling like I was given a death sentence and that I might not make it through the weekend.”
The Gynecologic Oncology team at University of Washington scheduled a full hysterectomy for the next week. Jill is now taking part in the chemotherapy arm of a study through Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
“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.”
Update: Jill sadly passed away from low-grade serous cancer in September 2022.