Stephanie Hammonds is a survivor of ovarian cancer and was first diagnosed in 2009. She is involved with various cancer-related speaking engagements, including with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance's Survivors Teaching Students Program®. She is a life-long artist, freelance writer, lover of Italian cooking, mom and grandmom.
Hammonds discusses how she leaves the scary stuff behind and focuses, instead, on the good stuff after ovarian cancer.
September has always been my favorite month. Looking forward to the start of a new school year, great weather, crunchy leaves and cool, back-to-school clothes was always pretty exciting.
And now, September has taken on a new meaning: it’s Ovarian Cancer Month, a time to reflect on life and celebrate my good fortune to have had access to ovarian cancer treatment.
As I reflect, I don’t dwell on negatives, get angry or blame anyone. I don’t curse my bad luck, lousy genes or the family tree.
After my diagnosis in 2009, I had a serious operation to remove tumors (believe me, “debulking” is not a bad word) and then chemotherapy to help capture errant cells. It was a journey along a road I was unfamiliar with, but a necessary one.
I’ve met women who have had similar operations and treatment; many are still working and still caring for families. Some have been celebrating their survivorship for several years. It’s a huge accomplishment dealing with any type of cancer because, let’s face it, a cancer diagnosis is tough. Thanks to my support group, it’s been a journey I’ve taken with ladies who have been down the same roads I have been. We find strength in each other. We celebrate together.
I’ve seen or heard many ovarian cancer clichés which serve to hurt our cause and perhaps even discourage or frighten others. Maybe it’s the reputation from years ago. We’re hoping that ovarian cancer outreach will bring about better outcomes. Rather than repeat the “gloom and doom” with outdated clichés and operative scary "horror” stories, I feel it’s better to get involved with working on the solutions. I do my part, along with others, by speaking to medical students about early signs and symptoms. It’s very empowering to help the cause, and the students learn from us as real cancer patients who are able to answer their questions and put a face on an illness.
Oncology researchers are coming up with new medicines, protocols and clinical trials. I bow to those who take part in the clinical trials so that others may benefit in the future. Genetic testing is a huge part of all this research. Let’s applaud and celebrate all the inroads made in slowing down the negatives in ovarian cancer.
Let’s celebrate how much has been achieved, and continue to stand up to ovarian cancer and all GYN cancers. Let's hope for and look forward to a better prognosis for all cancer patients.
I still love the month of September, only more so in the last few years. The leaves are prettier, the weather is more crisp and lovely, and a cool, new outfit is still something to look forward to.
I’ve had some of my greatest accomplishments in my art, classes I’ve taken, my associations and writing projects since 2009; it seems cancer has spurred me on.
And, a few short years ago, I discovered my newfound favorite quote from Horace Mann, the late Massachusetts educator:
“Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen.”