Fight Like A Girl Against Ovarian Cancer

After turning 30, I decided to meet a fertility specialist and discuss freezing my eggs. I have watched many of my friends struggle with fertility over the years and since it was not something I was ready for yet, I wanted to find out what my options were. Many people told me I was still too young to worry about preserving my fertility. They tried to assure me I had plenty of time.

I thank God every single day that I made that appointment. 

After explaining the egg freezing process to me in detail, my fertility doctor performed an ultrasound to get my egg count. Her demeanor changed almost immediately. She became serious and started reading off measurements of “cysts” for the nurse to record. We repeated the ultrasound a week later and since they had grown, she sent me for an MRI. The day after the MRI I got a phone call from the fertility doctor telling me my “cysts” showed features consistent with malignancy and when I hung up with her I needed to schedule an appointment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She believed I might have cancer. 

I was devastated. How could I have ovarian cancer? That’s for older women, I’m 30. I just had my annual physical and my annual exam with my gynecologist six weeks ago and received a clean bill of health. Twice in one day. I was confident we had caught it early. I’m a regular at my gyno office. I have never missed an annual exam since I was 15 or 16 years old. Sometimes I even go twice a year. The previous year alone I had been there 3 times, there’s no way this will be advanced stages, maybe it’s not even cancer. 

I had my surgery Tuesday, September 17, 2019, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. After nearly nine hours of surgery, I was cancer-free. I had a complete hysterectomy, multiple resections of my bowels. They removed my appendix, spleen, and my omentum, which is a sheet of fat below the abdominal wall. See ya! They removed tumors from my bladder, liver, and diaphragm. And they took two lymph nodes from my chest cavity. And they got it all. 

My sister, Casey Gaynor, and I at our MBA graduation at Monmouth University

Life before diagnosis

Before my diagnosis, I was a healthy 30-year old woman. I was a sister, daughter, friend, student, volunteer. I had a career I loved, working as the communications manager at a wealth management firm. We were getting ready to launch a new product and I was excited about the new projects in my future. I was about to embark on my first year as chair of the community committee of the Junior League of Monmouth County. I had spent months prepping and planning the projects and meetings for the upcoming year. Having just completed my MBA, I was looking forward to some downtime with my friends and family.

Life since diagnosis

My 31st birthday, just a few days after chemo

Since my surgery, I’ve had a slow recovery. I’ve also completed five rounds of chemotherapy with my sixth and final treatment scheduled for February 10. I have sometimes struggled to manage the many side effects I’ve experienced from chemo and surgery. I’ve spent weeks at home on the couch, feeling too sick or too weak to leave the house. My 31st birthday landed a few days after my fifth chemo infusion so I spent most of the day on the couch at my parents’ house. But the experience hasn’t been all bad, I’ve also met some of the most amazing women. Through social media, I have connected with cancer thrivers around the world. Their strength, determination, and courage inspire me daily to fight like a girl against ovarian cancer.

Your donation to Cure Our Ovarian Cancer will help fund important research to help me and my teal sisters survive. Ovarian cancer is often called a chronic illness in part because of how frequently women experience a recurrence. While my current chapter of fighting ovarian cancer is about to end, it will remain a part of my story forever and may begin again in the future.

To learn more about my experience with ovarian cancer, please visit morganbeatscancer.com.

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