To Anna, the color teal is symbolic of hope, awareness and community. Teal represents awareness of ovarian cancer, a disease that is notoriously difficult to diagnose and affects women of all ages. In May of 2014, Anna was diagnosed with stage 3c ovarian cancer and would later experience a recurrence.
Her initial symptoms were deceptive – bloating, fatigue, aches and pains in her back until she experienced an unusual vaginal discharge. After undergoing a series of tests, a CT scan confirmed her diagnosis: ovarian cancer.
For both her initial ovarian cancer diagnosis and recurrence, Anna underwent surgery followed by platinum-based chemotherapy. Immediately after treatment for her recurrence, she sat down with her gynecologic oncologist to discuss maintenance treatment options, which may slow the progression of the disease or delay future recurrences.
At first, Anna was hesitant to start a new treatment at the time, especially on the heels of a rough second bout with chemotherapy. But, after speaking with her doctors and support network she carefully considered her options. She made the decision to start on a maintenance therapy after achieving a response to chemotherapy.
Taking a maintenance therapy provided Anna with an option, versus the observation or "watch and wait" practice which is still often used as the standard of care for women who responded to platinum-based chemotherapy after a recurrence.
Any cancer diagnosis and treatment is overwhelming, but Anna did what she could to stay informed, researching all that she could and proactively speaking with her healthcare team and support system to ensure she was making the treatment decisions that was best for her.
As a result of her experience, Anna’s goal is for women to know that they are not alone, and to equip them with the knowledge and power to advocate for themselves, by knowing the treatment options available.