Inspired by her own cancer diagnosis, young woman seeks new career in cancer research
It all started in 2020, when Jenny, woke up in one morning with excruciating cramps. The pain was so severe, she was unable to get up to get dressed. She managed to schedule an appointment on the same day with her gynecologist who performed an ultrasound and pelvic exam. Following her exam, her doctor gave Jenny the surprising news that her intrauterine device (IUD) had displaced, and that large, 4-cm cysts were visible in both ovaries.
Jenny was put on progesterone pills in the hopes that her cysts would shrink, but after going in for a follow-up six weeks later, she learned that the cyst on her left ovary had grown to 10 cm and would need to be surgically removed.
Her surgery was scheduled for early March. During her pre-operation visit, the doctor went over all risk factors including the possibility that the cysts might be cancerous. As a part of the protocol, Jenny gave consent for the surgeon to perform a complete hysterectomy if the cysts were cancerous and widespread. The deal she made with her doctor was that, if the cancer was not widespread, the doctor would close Jenny back up and allow her to freeze her eggs before further treatment.
On March 8, when Jenny awoke from surgery, she was anticipating a four-week recovery from a laparotomy cystectomy. Instead, she learned the doctor had to perform a laparoscopic radical hysterectomy, appendectomy, and removal of connective tissues. She did in fact have stage III low-grade serous carcinoma ovarian cancer. Jenny was shocked to hear this news.
“My greatest struggle during treatment was accepting that my life was put on hold while everyone around me kept going. It is a very isolating feeling being a young adult. It is something I deeply struggled with and still do to this day: Mourning the loss of your old life and your old body before cancer,” Jenny reflects.
After her treatment ended, Jenny was inspired to pursue a career in clinical research, in hopes “of being part of something more.” Today, she works in the Melanoma Disease Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as a clinical research coordinator. “It is an amazing feeling working for the institution that saved my life,” she says.
Help support patients like Jenny by joining The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign and how you can get involved at DefyCancer.org.