LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Chances are, this bit of news won’t register in your mind. You might even forget it -- until you hear the story of Stephanie Carper and Dr. Shelly Gibbs.
It was Christmas Eve 2016. For six months Stephanie had not been feeling quite right: A slightly bloated abdomen, fatigue and loss of appetite. But on Christmas Eve, despite a house full of family on the way and an 8-year-old daughter excited by the holiday, Stephanie had to go to bed. She was in terrible pain.
At 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, she had to go to the ER.
Once there, she was diagnosed with appendicitis, but after a scan, they found she had a ruptured tumor on her right ovary. OB/GYN Dr. Shelly Gibbs was called in, and five minutes before Christmas, Stephanie was rolling toward the operating room.
She said she felt a hand on her leg, and she heard the voice of Dr. Gibbs who said, “I got you.”
And once Stephanie heard that she felt a sense of calm, and trust overtake her. It would last her through two years of chemotherapy, and two operations. It stayed with her till this year, when it was determined she was cancer free.
Stephanie and Dr. Gibbs stay in touch. They had formed a bond over an unrelenting disease. Working for Stephanie was her age. She is in her mid-30’s and could withstand the rigors of fighting it.
Working against her was, well, her age. She thought she was too young for ovarian cancer. Plus, she had no history of it in her family, nor any biological markers that would indicate she had the potential to develop it.
There is no known cure, and the symptoms often go unnoticed until its too late. This is why September, the big awareness month is so important: to make women aware of any change in their overall health, and to establish a good relationship with their OBGYN. A relationship that is valuable at any age.
To learn more about ovarian cancer, click here.