Winter Reflections | Dee Sparacio
As I sat at my computer looking out the window at more than seven inches of snow in my yard, I began thinking back to the winters when I was in treatment. I remember how stressed I was that Mother Nature might cause me to miss a treatment. I used to worry that the snow might start during my infusion and I would have to figure out which way to drive home to avoid the steep hill. Thankfully, we only had snow one time on a treatment day, and it wasn’t even deep enough to cause me to change my route driving home. It is easy to enjoy the snow when you don’t have those stresses, but I know women in treatment who do have those stresses, women like those who attend the support group at my cancer center.
Cancerversary Time | Dee Sparacio
I don’t know who coined the term cancerversary but I have been using it for a few years. For some survivors, their cancerversary is the anniversary of the day they were diagnosed with cancer. Yet for others it is the anniversary of the day they finished treatment.
A Global Effect | Dee Sparacio
N: I’m on Avastin and my CA-125 is up. Did this happen to anyone else?
K: Anyone have experience with HIPEC?
C: Sorry I haven’t been on. Just out of hospital. Ascites drained 1.5 liters.
Making Our Voices be Heard | Dee Sparacio
“Dear Congressman Holt,
I am a constituent and an eight-year ovarian cancer survivor. I respectfully request that you continue your support of ovarian cancer research …”
This is how I began an email I recently sent to my representative in Washington, DC. In the email I asked him to sign the Fitzpatrick-DeLauro Dear Colleague Letter requesting $20 million for the Ovarian Cancer Research Program, one of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs at the Department of Defense. I sent this email using a system on the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance website. In sending it I added my name to the growing list of survivors who are taking an active role in advocating for research and awareness at the national and state levels.
Waiting for a Revolution | Dee Sparacio
Over the past seven years I have met gynecologic cancer survivors at summits, conferences, workshops and at support group meetings. Many have walked alongside me at 5K’s to raise awareness and funds for research. I have even gotten to know survivors who live in the United Kingdom as part of a Facebook group. In most cases, I doubt our paths would have crossed except for the fact that we were all diagnosed with cancer.
The Support You Need | Dee Sparacio
When I was in chemotherapy treatment in 2005, I was seated next to many different men and women with cancer. We chatted and shared magazines and book recommendations but not one woman I spoke to had a gynecologic cancer diagnosis. I really wanted to find other women who could relate to what I was going through—the early menopause, fatigue, joint pain, neuropathy and hair loss.
New Year’s Aspirations | Dee Sparacio
On January 1, 2006, when I was in treatment for ovarian cancer, I decided that I wouldn’t make resolutions anymore. Why? Because there were only two things I aspired to do, finish chemo and live! Since then I have made aspirations for each new year. For me setting these goals is my way of looking forward to the year ahead and how to make my life, however long it might be, better.
In the past, I aspired to complete chemotherapy treatments for my recurrence (2009), raise money for ovarian cancer research at my cancer center (2012), write more frequently on my blog (2011) and travel more (every year).
This year, I have a few new aspirations.
Celebrating the holidays after a cancer diagnosis: A survivor’s guide | Dee Sparacio
Celebrating the holidays after a diagnosis of cancer can be a challenge. We survivors expect to do things just as we had in the past even though we may be recovering from surgery or going through difficult chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
In 2005 I was in chemotherapy treatment but I still wanted to make those five different types of Christmas cookies, to make ornaments, to decorate the tree, to put up the outside lights, to attend all the holiday parties and to host Christmas dinner. I didn’t want to disappoint my family and I certainly didn’t want cancer to ruin our holiday. But I was so tired I wasn’t sure I could do all I had planned. I was stressing out.
Every cancer patient has a story to tell | Dee Sparacio
On July 29, 2005, I woke up to hear my gynecologic oncologist say, “You have stage three ovarian cancer.” Hearing those words was difficult and ushered in my life as a cancer survivor.
A few months earlier I had seen my gynecologist about a dull pain I was having on the left side of my abdomen. Since my sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer, I was vigilant about getting an annual physical and mammogram. After two ultrasounds, an MRI and a visit to the emergency room I was referred to the gynecologic oncologists at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick. I underwent a hysterectomy, oophorectomy and had my oomentum removed during debulking surgery.