Ovarian Cancer Survivor
Diana was headed to Walt Disney World for spring break with her two daughters when she had to pull over on the side of the road because of excruciating stomach pain.
The intense pain came and went for days, so she made an appointment with her primary care doctor. She was told it was just gas and was prescribed an antacid.
Diana, though, had a nagging suspicion it was something else. Seven days later she visited an ER and learned the truth: she had stage 3 ovarian cancer.
At 34, it never even occurred to her that the pain was associated with cancer.
“Cancer is not something that happens to me, it happens to others, you hear about it,” she remembers thinking.
Diana, overwhelmed with fear, started to research her diagnosis and focused on the survival rate statistics. All she could think about was her daughters, ages 6 and 12. “It was not my time to go. I was not ready to die. “
Five days after the ER visit, she was at Moffitt Cancer Center meeting with her treatment team. “I remember leaving that room with a little bit of relief knowing exactly what we are doing, when we are doing it and what the expected outcomes were.”
Diana credits her oncologist for putting her at ease by devising a “full-action plan.” She had a successful surgery, followed by chemotherapy.
Genetics played a role in Diana’s cancer. She and her sister both completed genetic testing and learned they carried the BRCA mutation, which elevates their risk for developing ovarian and breast cancer.
Armed with this new information, Diana took to social media to educate others about the importance of researching your family history and getting genetic testing if you have cancer in your family.
“No matter how small the symptoms are, you need to be your own advocate,” says Diana. “At the end of it all, it is your body and it is you, and you all know best what’s going on in it. If there’s something that doesn’t sit right ask for second, third, fifth opinion.”
Two years after her diagnosis, Diana is cancer free.
“It takes a village,” she says. “Family, your friends, doctors, nurses, everybody makes such a big difference. It’s humongous and it takes them all to get you through.”