Tracy lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and was diagnosed with stage IV germ cell ovarian cancer at age 27.
What has been your frustration in having a rare form of ovarian cancer?
I was diagnosed with stage 4 germ cell ovarian cancer eight years ago at age 27. I was devastated and felt like my entire world was collapsing in around me. What made it even more difficult was the fact that there was so little information about this kind of cancer, and there was NO ONE for me to talk to that went through the same thing. I had an incredible support network in my family, friends and medical team, but it’s never the same as talking with someone that went through the same experience. I had a very rough treatment as my surgery could not be laparoscopic and the chemotherapy regimen was brutal. I wished so much there was someone for me to talk to to help me prepare for the side effects of all of the treatments and just to understand what I was going through. Regardless, I made it through, my cancer was cured and I’m ALIVE! I have side effects from both the surgery and treatment and will be on HRT the rest of my life (that has its own side effects), but I am thankful that I made it. Nothing in life has been as difficult as that experience, and I am so glad to see this #RareAware campaign is finally shining a light on this type of disease and the women it affects. I hope it can bring more of us together!
How do you feel both a part of and apart from the greater ovarian cancer community?
Generally, I do not feel like I am a part of the greater ovarian cancer community because I was so young when I had it. Most community members are much older, and other gynecologic diseases that affect young women are typically not cancer. I really haven’t found a community for young women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, so am glad to see OCRA starting one!
What gives you hope?
I have been cancer-free for eight years and have lived an incredible life so far. New medical advances give me hope, and I try to not dwell on the future too much and instead enjoy life to fullest while I am still young.
What do you want to shout from the rooftops?
Don’t wait to live your dreams, take a risk, or check that item off of your bucket list until you are old. Life throws surprises your way, good and bad, at any time. You don’t want to look back and regret not living the life you had.
#RareAware is shining a spotlight on the thousands of patients across the United States who are living with a rare form of ovarian cancer — raising awareness, offering resources and information, and building community for those who may feel both a part *of* and apart *from* the larger conversation about ovarian cancer. Learn more about #RareAware and share your story.