We are so grateful to share a Q&A from our EmPOWER Her Series. Today’s guest is Nicole A., who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Nicole offers advice on the importance of finding moments of positivity during one’s cancer journey.
Q: When were you diagnosed and at what age?
A: I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2022 when I was 53 years old.
Q: How was your cancer initially detected?
A: My cancer was originally detected because I had an inflamed lymph node around my collar bone. I showed my husband, who is a Physician Assistant at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. He told me to go to my primary physician. I put it off for about two weeks as life was busy with the start of school and work for myself and children. My husband asked me again to go to the doctor, so I finally did. Since knowing I had breast cancer in 2016, my physician ordered blood work for cancer markers. They were extremely elevated. She sent me for a CT which later showed I had ovarian cancer.
Q: Was there anything you wish you knew before you started treatment?
A: I wish I knew that I can go for hydration after all of my treatments. This would have helped my side effects after every treatment and help me bounce back quicker.
Q: Were there any specific programs or services offered to you that would help during the treatment process?
A: I believe my insurance company and Memorial Sloan Kettering both offered counseling services.
Q: What advice would you give on how to support a loved one going through ovarian cancer?
A: My advice to support a loved one going through ovarian cancer would be to encourage them by leaving notes of positivity around the house, get them to go outside and smell the fresh air even if it is for a few minutes a day. My family always encouraged me to walk after my worst days after treatment.
Q: What message would you like to provide women about ovarian cancer?
A: The message I would like to provide women going through ovarian cancer is to remain as positive as you can while going through your treatments. It will help you both physically and mentally. Do what makes you feel good about yourself and have faith.
Q: Was there one thing that you took away from your stay at Mary’s Place?
A: One thing about my stay at Mary’s Place was that I did not feel scared to share my story. I felt at home and comfortable. I also felt confident that no one would look at me differently because of my looks. I had some hair loss which I knew would happen when I started the cold capping process. I was happy with the results. I lost about 50% of my hair, but I was never bald. My hair just thinned. I wanted to feel good about myself on the outside, which in my mind would help me physically and mentally.
Want to help support women like Nicole? Consider donating to Mary’s Place by the Sea.