Editor’s Note: The Courier asked cancer survivors and/or family members to share their stories during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
A few people have written to tell of their experiences.
We thank all the people who participated. As many of you said, you want others to know about the experience and to always have hope.
Their stories will run often this month.
I have nine — yes, nine — older siblings, but because my mother was over 40 years old and had not had a child in over five years, her pregnancy was deemed to be “high risk” for miscarriage and she was given DES (diethylstilbestrol). DES was contained in her prenatal vitamin and for all she knew and was told this was perfectly normal and safe.
The pharmaceutical company that produces DES denies all and any claims that DES caused or causes cancer, premature birth or any birth defects. However, DES was banned in 1971.
Back to me.
I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 19. It wasn’t easy but I survived.
I was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 24. Again, more surgery, more chemo, and thankfully no radiation at that time. I again survived.
As crazy and unbelievable as it sounds, over the next 24 years I was diagnosed with uterine and breast cancer and even a melanoma on my face. I believe each cancer was directly caused by the DES my mother was given to promote a strong, healthy pregnancy.
Two years ago, on Oct. 13, 2010, I was pronounced cancer-free for the sixth — yes, sixth! — time.
The latest diagnosis was the same as my first: ovarian cancer. Well, I can tell you that in 30-plus years the treatment was much better, faster and easier than when I was 19. I believe in participating actively in all the Relays and ACS (American Cancer Society) fundraisers.
I believe a cure is coming. I have to. I am a survivor.