Heather lives in Muskegon, and was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma, hypercalcemic type.
What has been your frustration in having a rare form of ovarian cancer?
My local doctors shoved it off as pregnancy symptoms or being a hypochondriac. I was “too young” to have ovarian cancer. I was having awful pain and vomiting while pregnant way more than normal and it was shoved off until I was at my specialist and they found it and acted so quickly. I wish more doctors were informed on ALL types of cancer not just the major ones and I wish they took their patients more seriously when reporting pain etc. My specialists saved me and my baby who is now almost 3!
Where have you found community?
My biggest community has been the small cell ovarian cancer Facebook group. They gave me incredible advice and I truly believe helped me survive. There are people from all over the world who have connections to so many resources that I truly believe have saved some of us or gave us the best fighting chance!
How do you feel both a part of and apart from the greater ovarian cancer community?
The cancer community is a VERY strong community and so supportive, but when you break down the types it gets a lot smaller and harder to find support and research. I struggled to find people who had my same exact type of cancer until I came across the small cell Facebook group.
What gives you hope?
The trust in my team to reach out to anyone needed to make sure I have the best surviving chance at this disease. The support from family, friends and the community keep me alive daily. The fight for my husband and 2 miracle babies during and after cancer and our first boy we lost prior to cancer. The fact that I can say I am 3 years NED of this disease when I fought it at 22-28 weeks pregnant gives me major hope. My body sustained SO much in that time and I’m here today to talk about it. It keeps the hope alive that I can celebrate every year and help spread the needed awareness of this awful disease.
What do you want to shout from the rooftops?
YOU are stronger than you think. When you are faced with cancer you have no choice but to fight and try to survive, and in that fight you get to watch how incredibly strong your mind, body, and soul can be and that is incredible.
#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.