• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

June 11, 2007

They Told me I was Pregnant, But it was Ovarian Cancer

Share
Special Offer

SERENA, 27, nursing student
In the middle of my senior year of college, I began to feel tired all the time. My strength was so zapped that I had to quit my beloved crew team— I just couldn’t keep up. I also became constipated. I went to several team and school doctors, most of whom initially thought I was pregnant (I wasn’t), or prescribed laxatives, which didn’t help much. A few months later, my waistline began expanding. I’d always been fit and thin, so it upset me that my clothes didn’t fit. I went to more doctors—six during the year—but none gave me a diagnosis other than constipation. I didn’t think the problem was serious, but I was completely frustrated that doctors couldn’t find the cause of my fatigue and bloating.

After graduation, despite my fatigue and four-inch-thicker abdomen, I pushed myself to accompany friends to a Wyoming ranch for the summer. Within a few weeks, I felt like I had to urinate constantly; I’d get up numerous times at night to use the bathroom, and I’d still feel the urge when I got back to bed. One late- June morning, it became painful to swallow. I went to another doctor, who diagnosed mononucleosis. Yet I knew something else was wrong. I was so frustrated that I told him I wasn’t leaving until he figured it out. He was the first to do a pelvic exam, during which he thought my uterus was enlarged. He sent me for a sonogram: It revealed an ovarian tumor the size of a cantaloupe. The doctor told me most tumors are benign, so I didn’t think the worst—I was just pissed off that this was ruining my summer fun. On top of it all, I really did have mono.

I went home and got another ultrasound. This time, the radiologist thought I had a stage I, grade I tumor. I can’t remember anything between the pronouncement that I might have cancer and my surgery five days later, except that I was completely stunned.

The surgeon said he would try to preserve my fertility but that I might need a full hysterectomy, and that he would only know once he performed the surgery. It terrified me that I might never have children, but I knew it was important to remove the tumor. Thankfully, the fact that I could have died from the cancer didn’t cross my mind.

The type of cancer I had—stage I germ-cell immature teratoma—doesn’t spread as quickly as the more common epithelial cancer, so he just removed my right ovary. I expected to need chemo and radiation, but the cancer hadn’t spread , so I was spared that. I was lucky, but I was also determined. Not taking “we don’t know” for an answer got me a diagnosis that was crucial to my beating the disease.


Share
This Is A Developing Story
Connect with Marie Claire:
Advertisement
horoscopes
daily giveaway
Win a year’s supply of makeup products from Tarte and a year’s supply of hair products from Hamadi Organics!

Win a year’s supply of makeup products from Tarte and a year’s supply of hair products from Hamadi Organics!

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From Health News and Fitness Trends
The Rebel Diet

Born to eat wild? Have an on-again, off-again relationship with healthy eating? You'll love the latest weight-loss news.

Workout Trend Alert: Everybody Dance Now

Can sweatin' to the '90s also get you in shape? Jennifer Goldstein kicks it old school.

Cleansing's Dirty Secret

Touted for myriad health benefits, chic juice diets are all the rage, but in their quest to detox and lose weight, some women — call them juicerexics — are hitting the bottle to dangerous degrees.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook
Welcome!

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Continue
Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.

Continue