Survivorship - Rita's Story

From M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Duration: 02:30

Narrator:
A young, vibrant 43 year old, Rita was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her first thought was of her daughter Karis, adopted as a baby in China.

Rita:
…my survivorship started the minute I decided that this wasn’t going to be the end for me, that I was going to beat the disease. And that if I was going to die of it, it wasn’t going to be now.

Narrator:
Treatment sent Rita into early menopause and left scars beyond the physical changes of surgery.

Rita:
It’s a gynecological cancer. It has an emotional impact on who you are, and how you conduct yourself intimately and what is this going to mean.

Narrator:
It meant, among other things, the end of the relationship she was in at the time. Rita shared her concerns with her doctor.

Rita:
Sometimes now I feel like just really kind of like a broken doll, you know, like kind of damaged in some ways. You know, I have this big scar and I’ve had cancer, and I don’t know. That just seems like a lot. And I remember he looked at me and he said, "Some day you are going to find someone who is going to see that scar, and that is going to come to represent to them a really strong, courageous woman. And that scar is going to be something that they come to love and not something to be feared." And I was so touched by that comment, you know. And he said, "That will happen some day," you know, and it did. And they always say that cancer will change your life. And I think that the degree that it changes might have something to do with how satisfied you were before you had cancer. I mean I certainly felt like I had a great life, a huge life, but I think that it changes the timing of life. And now. I go back to M. D. Anderson and I feel – I feel like hope. I feel like – you know, I’m fine with somebody asking me, "How is it for you? What does it feel like to be a survivor? How long did it take you to get your hair?" You know, because in retrospect, I had a terrible staging. It was like a 3C I think – a terrible staging. It had far spread outside my ovaries. And you know what? Here I am!