Ovarian Cancer Survivor

Ovarian Cancer Survivor Gives Credit to Comic Relief and Strong Belief

Patty Cyr was diagnosed with clear cell ovarian cancer nearly two decades ago, and she’s looked at the world differently ever since. Now, she treats every day like a gift and says that, sadly, many people don’t unwrap their present until something threatens their future. She said she was admittedly one of those people until cancer arrived and put her life into perspective. She encourages other cancer patients to make a list of enjoyable activities and accomplish at least one a day, even if it’s as simple as watching a funny movie or calling an old friend.

 

After my cancer diagnosis in 1998, I had an overwhelming zest to live. I made a bucket list and achieved more at 44 years old than I had in my whole life. As I look back, chemo was an awakening and enlightening experience that taught me to be flexible and patient. I never focused on the disease coming back, and now 17 years later I’m writing to you cancer-free.

It’s extremely helpful to talk to someone who’s battled cancer and won. Plenty of survivors have the answers to your questions and can help put your mind at ease. You’re going to need a solid support system, knowledge, hope and laughter during your treatment—which starts now.

I suffered from endometriosis and ovarian cysts for 20 years and was a regular visitor to my OB-GYN’s office. I had two laparoscopies and three rounds of leuprolide (Lupron) shots to treat these problems before doctors noticed a suspicious-looking cyst.

A third laparoscopy and biopsy revealed that not only did I have ovarian cancer but that the procedure had caused these cells to spread micro-scopically throughout my body (raising my stage from II to IIIA). I quickly realized that I was going to need a lot of help to battle this disease.

After a complete hysterectomy, I endured six rounds of chemotherapy (paclitaxel [Taxol] and carboplatin). Mentally, I was in another world during chemo time; my insights into the spiritual side of life were very much heightened. I think anytime your life is on the edge, you look at the world differently.

When initially diagnosed, survivors that I found through the R. A. Bloch Cancer Foundation gave me hope and answered all of my questions. I also took my responsibility as a patient very seriously and researched various treatment options to discuss with my doctors.

There were good days and bad days. Losing my hair was emotional, but I handled it by having my shoulder-length hair cut gradually to lessen the shock and keep some control. I also practiced wearing wigs and turbans so I would know what options worked best.

Sometimes, food cravings would take over. I enjoyed an overall healthy diet but occasionally gave in to my cravings for ice cream and onion rings. I also noticed that when I drank more water, my blood pressure wasn’t as low and I wasn’t as queasy. To get through the physically draining days, I used visualization techniques that I learned from listening to Bernie Siegel tapes. They were very supportive and uplifting, and taught me how to picture my cancer cells being attacked and going away.

Laughter was also a glorious escape. I especially enjoyed watching “Candid Camera” videos that were mailed to me through the Laughter Therapy website, a free service for people suffering from various diseases. They made me laugh so hard; I really appreciated the comic relief.

After I finished treatment, it was challenging to return to my normal routine. During chemo, you often have tremendous support from others, and gradually the need for that support system dwindles. I was a bit lonely at times because I had grown used to having so many people around to help. The entire transition can be a cultural shock as you return to a normal lifestyle.

Although I still suffer from other unrelated health problems, my husband and I find time to enjoy each other and have fun whenever I'm able. For the most part, you’ll find me sitting on the patio in my backyard watching hummingbirds and butterflies. Each day I give thanks to God for my family, friends and this blessed gift of life.

 

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