Rebecca has an awesome testimony of survival and getting closer to God in the midst of the hardships she endured. Diagnosed with two kinds of cancer, she had a long and scary battle ahead of her. This is her story.
“I found out I had Ovarian cancer in January of 2012. I had all the symptoms for about 2 years and did not know it. I had an internal ultrasound and that showed a large tumor in one of my ovaries. I was sent to Pittsburgh because my doctor would not touch it [in my town]. I had surgery on February the 13th. Total hysterectomy with biopsies of surrounding tissues and nodes and fluids.
2 weeks later the results came back as Ovarian cancer and I also had Uterine cancer. It was Stage 1 C so the cells were fluids in my abdomen."
Incredibly, the two types of cancer were completely unrelated.
“It was a basketball sized tumor that they removed from the ovary. And my uterus was full of tumors.
…So, I had to have chemo. I was devastated. Mostly about losing my hair but also, I knew I would be sick.”
Rebecca had surgery in February of that year, and began her chemotherapy treatments in March.
“I went every 3 weeks for 6 treatments. It was very harsh and I was very sick each time I had it. I would have chemo Monday for 8 hours. Tuesday afternoon I would have the Neulasta shot. Which also makes you not feel well. Then for a week I could barely raise my head off the pillow. Lots of body pain from the shot and sick from the chemo. They said in 8 to 10 days my hair would fall out. And they were right.
I had ordered a few wigs before I started chemo. 3 of them. They looked close to what my hair looked like. I am a hairstylist so I knew how to tweak them to make them look like my hair. When my hair was coming out, I was so sad. My husband shaved my head 3 weeks after my first treatment. I hated the way I looked. I never even took one picture of me bald.”
Rebecca’s chemo caused all of her hair to fall out, including eyelashes, eyebrows and body hair.
“I wore false eyelashes and drew my brows on. I had my chemo in Pittsburgh and they had a wig and scarf shop. My husband bought me some chemo beanies. And a soft cap for night time. I couldn't wear it... I was always too hot. It took me a few days to get used to the wigs but I did and I loved them! I wore the caps at home and wore my wigs to work. Being a hairstylist, I was not going to work with no wig. I know some people do but that was not for me.
When I had chemo, I would take off work for 9 days then work for 2 weeks then have another chemo. My wigs were awesome!!
I am now 6 years cancer free! My hair came back white and curly. Then it went back to the way it was before the cancer."
Rebecca no longer wears wigs but she still keeps some just in case. Her experience has given her lots of wisdom to share with other women who are going through cancer.
“Do what makes you happy. Wear wigs if you want, or scarves or chemo beanies. So, do what makes you feel good and stay positive. If you are having chemo... stay hydrated!”
She recalls how her relationships were changed for better and worse after her cancer diagnosis.
“Some of my friends were wonderful. They brought me food after my surgery and during chemo sickness... and some deserted me. I guess they didn't know how to handle it.
It was a very sad and lonely time in my life. I accepted it as the new me and prayed that I would be OK and survive all of it. I had a son who I did not want to leave behind. That was always on my mind. It definitely strengthened my relationship with my husband. When you don't know if you are going to lose someone it really makes you think.”
Rebecca has since opened her own salon and says it’s the best thing she ever did.
“I am so thankful to be alive. And I am not the same person I was before the cancer. You see things in a different light, you love more, and you appreciate everything more. I feel like I got a second chance to live a better life. And I got closer to God!”