'I kept on praying that I would survive this cancer'

  • National Ovarian Cancer Coalition volunteer Linda Bronsteader of Darien, front, was diagnosed with stage IIIC ovarian cancer in 2014. With faith and a strong support system, she beat the disease.

    National Ovarian Cancer Coalition volunteer Linda Bronsteader of Darien, front, was diagnosed with stage IIIC ovarian cancer in 2014. With faith and a strong support system, she beat the disease. courtesy of Linda Bronsteader

 
By Linda Bronsteader
Posted9/15/2022 6:00 AM

I was quite surprised when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March of 2014. I thought I was healthy and going through menopause. A month and a half before my surgery, I had climbed up the Oakbrook Terrace Tower (a 31-story building) for the American Lung Association.

I had a blood test in January 2014 that showed my total hemoglobin and total iron was extremely low. I thought my doctor would give me an iron pill and my hemoglobin and iron would improve.

 

After talking with my primary doctor, he ordered a vaginal ultrasound and told me to see a gynecologist. After looking over my test results, my gynecologist said that I would have to have a complete hysterectomy.

We scheduled the surgery, but the pre-op blood work came back that my CA-125 was elevated (1,487). The normal range is between 0 and 34. He referred me to my oncologist. I was feeling fine until about a month before my surgery. I didn't have much of an appetite, my abdomen was bloated and I had pain in my lower back. I looked like I was in my first trimester of pregnancy.

What was supposed to be a two-hour, robotic surgery turned into a four-and-a-half hour surgery where he had to cut me open because my cancer had spread. My cancer was staged at IIIC.

My oncologist gave me a total hysterectomy, removed my spleen, appendix, some of my liver and some lymph nodes. (While I was) still in the hospital recovering from my surgery, my doctor said that I would have to start chemotherapy the next week.

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I kept on praying that I would survive this cancer because I had to see my last two kids graduate college in 2015 and 2018. By the grace of God, I had a strong faith, was positive and had a good sense of humor that carried me through all my treatments and subsequent surgeries.

I also had great support from my family, friends and co-workers.

My daughter found that the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition organized a walk to support women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and she thought it would be a great idea to support the NOCC. Since 2015, my family and friends participate in the walk to bring awareness to ovarian cancer.

I love that we found the NOCC because they support women with all stages of ovarian cancer and their caregivers.

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