Yes, I have Ovarian Cancer…

Many of you are completely caught off guard by this post. I’ve seen the reaction multiple times – you’re sitting there with your mouth wide open, your hand possibly covering it as you stare in shock and possibly start to tear up/cry. And my first response back is “I’m okay, I’m going to be okay…I have to be, I don’t have a choice”. And most days, I am okay.  I have an early stage of Ovarian Cancer and had a focused form of Endometrial Cancer as well (the Endometrial Cancer was a surprise we weren’t anticipating), and I’m lucky to be with a team of 8 wonderful doctors at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis.

To date I’d shared the news with a small group of family and friends in order to allow myself time to focus on my children and me – I’ve been through a lot in the last 7 weeks and needed some time. My first priority was to make sure Olivia and Jaxson adjusted to our new found state of living for the time being, and that they understood as much as they can for their ages. Next was getting through my first round of treatment, which I started 2 weeks ago tomorrow.

The easiest way to go through the hundreds of questions I get when people find out is a quick Q&A, so here we go:

You have Ovarian Cancer??: Yes, I have Ovarian Cancer, at age 36. No, there aren’t many of us running around in my age bracket with this awful disease. And although I’m not regularly asked, the look on one’s face is enough…the prognosis is positive, as is my outlook, but I have a long road ahead of me.

How are the children, do they know?: They are doing remarkably well for what we’ve been through. Yes, they are aware that I have cancer. If there was a way I could have kept it from them I probably would have, but that wasn’t an option. Being that I was in and out of the hospital 3 times in the month of January, they were beginning to worry, plus the treatments would make me lose my hair and I wasn’t really sure how you explain that without giving them the truth.

Jaxson can only focus on my “haircut” and “new hair” (that’s what he calls my wig). And Olivia asks really informed questions for a 7 year old. For instance: “Mommy will I get sick too?” Me: “No honey, you can’t catch cancer.” O: “No, I mean when I’m your age, am I going to get sick just like you?” After quickly trying to rack my brain for what to say I told her the truth. “I’m working with the doctors to try and figure that all out.  I’m hopeful that that will not be the case and you’ll be just fine.”

Are you Scared?: The answer is without a doubt, HELL YES, I’M SCARED! The “c” word in and of itself is scary enough, add ovarian in front of it and it’s a whole new ballgame! Some say I’m really brave and handling this very well…I’m not brave, I’m just doing what needs to be done, the most graceful way I know possible. And some days that may mean I come across as a sailor who curses too much, but ends everything with “but I know it could be worse, so I’m okay”

Did you have any signs?: Yes, almost all of them, but I didn’t recognize them. The one thing you have to understand is that they mask themselves as other things. I blamed work, things going on in my personal life, the upcoming holidays, etc.

What are the signs you might ask – loss of appetite/feeling full quickly when eating, loss of weight, exhaustion, heartburn, bloating (didn’t have this one), frequent urge to urinate and a couple others. The recommendation I will make to everyone is do yourself a favor, if you have any symptoms that last longer than 2 weeks, go to the doctor just to verify what you think in your head (mine was telling me stress) is actually what’s going on. Clearly, I did not, so I’m not one to talk on putting things off – ha!

Do you have to have Chemo?: Yes, I have 6 treatments, every 3 weeks. They last 6 hours each time. For those who  have received chemotherapy, the next question is what drugs – Taxol and Carboplatin – they’re hitting me pretty hard since I’m young and can recover better than older patients (average age for Ovarian Cancer is 61).

What about radiation?: Not at this time

How are you feeling?: As of today, pretty decent. I’m at the midway point between treatments and am able to get a good chunk of things accomplished. The number of “good days” will dwindle as the treatments go on and my “dip days” will increase in duration, so I’m trying to do what I can, when I can right now.

You had a party to shave your head?: Yup, sure did! I haven’t had much of a say in any of this, so when it came to when my hair would fall out I wanted to make the choice as to when it went, not taking a shower one morning and seeing it falling out in clumps on the floor. I also wanted the children to play a part and have our friends and family around that were close enough to participate. This was a way for me to have a voice – I’ll introduce my “Home Team” tomorrow — it was a really nice time!

Now that that’s done, you’re probably wondering why a blog. Why not? There are a little over 22,000 new diagnosis each year (makes up less than 2% of all cancers diagnosed annually), and each year a little over 14,000 lose their battle to the disease (5 year average survival rate of all stages combined is 46.2%). Most people don’t event know what to look for and those in their 30’s don’t have it on their radar as a possibility. So, why wouldn’t I write about my experience if it couldn’t help another young woman in the same situation. Why not try to raise awareness?

To start I’ll catch up on what’s happened to date, introduce you to my wonderful team of nurses and doctors…I have a lot of them (!) …and include some fun along the way! Be prepared, I have big things in store for Ovarian Cancer Awareness month in September an I’m going to need all hands on deck for support!


24 Replies to “Yes, I have Ovarian Cancer…”

  1. As you probably know, I have been down the cancer road wit Dotti. Stay strong and positive. You have an incredible family and support group. You will always be in my prayers. Let’s kick cancers ass!!

  2. Thank you for sharing this blog.
    I have always known you as a strong young lady. Your attitude and strength and all the prayers will see you through this. Praying for you and your lovely family! Hugs!
    (K. Stone)

  3. Randalyn, Was great to see you tonight at the FCA dinner! You looked beautiful, by the way. You have been in our prayers for a long time now, way before we heard of your diagnosis. Please know that Doug & I mist definitely want to be part of any events or fundraisers coming up. Love you and admire your strength, but then that is not a new feeling for me. 🙌

  4. Just received a shared post concerning your update and so great to see your beautiful family again and yes you look great. It was always a blessing when I got to share the brief time I had with you and your family. I will not say I was glad to hear of your battle, but I thank God for your courage and will ask Him to give you the peace and strength beyond your understanding to win this battle. None of us know the battles we will face but I know He can give us strength and peace for each hour as we lean on Him. Please know this will be my request as I pray for you healing. I ask for this in the name of Jesus who desires that close relationship with each one of us in our times of struggle and joy. If I can ever assist you in any way please allow me. The best to all,

  5. Love this!! You’ve got this and this cancer should be terrified!! Thank you for sharing your journey. We will learn so much from it!! Always in our prayers…❤

  6. Know you can KICK this! You have a GOOD attitude! Know you have a GREAT family, who will support you! Good luck & will include you in my prayers!

  7. Randalynn, I noticed you have lost weight and I wanted to tell you to let go of the stress and get on with the food!! You are going to be fine girl!! And you can` kick ass` and shout it to the world! Sending prayers for you and all of your team!! XO!

  8. Randalynn, I am sorry to hear of your battle, but with your faith and attitude I know this is one battle you will win! Being a breast cancer survivor I know how hard and scary it is. So many times I had to repeat my favorite saying to myself “there is no greater waist of ones time or energy than on self pity”. You are in my thoughts and prayers!

  9. I will be keeping you in prayer. You are strong. And, when you can’t find the strength, you have a loving family to lift you up.

  10. Randalynn,
    This breaks my heart to hear this. I am in awe of your wonderful attitude and outlook. You are amazing. I’ll be thinking of you and hope to see you the next time you’re in Naples. If you want to get Naples involved in the Ovarian Cancer month… I’m your girl… let me know what I can do to help. Xoxo

  11. Thank you for sharing your story! I have been praying for you even though I didn’t know your situation (you are on our prayer list at church). I love how you are so positive and I will continue to pray for you and your family!

  12. You got this!!!
    FYI… your children are more than welcome to play with my dogs when you guys are around.

    : )

    Jace and Lorna

  13. Randalynn, you are an inspiration! I know from experience that your attitude is 99% of the fight. We haven’t kept in touch with you since you graduated but please know we will keep you continually in our prayers and want to help with any fundraisers that you come up with. You go girl, Kick that dreaded Cs ass!

  14. Randalynn, your positivity is contagious! I am so thrilled to hear your personality and fierce determination come through in your post. You will be an inspiration to so many others for the rest of your life and that is such a gift. It’s one of the gifts that only something like cancer can bring. I can’t wait to see you kick this to the curb and be a light to so many others! I pray that God will bless you in both your cancer treatment and in your efforts to bring awareness and build others up who so desperately need a positive voice!

  15. Randalynn,
    Thanks so much for sharing your journey! Please know you will be in the Simmonds’ Family prays and thoughts! I am so very sorry you have to go through this but your attitude is amazing and will carry you through! We would love to be involved in any fund raisers!
    In my prayers

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