Ovarian Cancer Student- Natalie
Name: Natalie Brooke Kellogg
Age at Enrollment: 34
What were the primary symptoms you experienced prior to diagnosis? I have PCOS and endometriosis; and extreme and rare case where it keeps coming back with a vengeance! I was having symptoms again back and causing problems so on my birthday in September 2016, I met with Dr. Michael Hibner and we started treatment. It didn’t work, and I already was on hormone therapy so they scheduled laparoscopic surgery for November 22, 2016 and they found the tumors during that surgery.
What symptom(s) lead you to go to the doctor? Constant nausea, constipation, seizure like activity, passing out because of throwing up so much I was dehydrated often, pain and a lot of irregular bleeding. I also had numerous cysts rupture in that time as well.
Courses completed: I went through oral chemo and recently had some radiation, but mostly hardcore hormone therapy since they removed as much of the tumors as they could in November 2016. On September 18, 2017, I will be undergoing a full hysterectomy and oophorectomy to have all the cancer removed which will hopefully all stop the PCOS and endometriosis.
What was your hardest moment (or moments) and how did you you get through it/them? The hardest has been these last few months. On August 9th we scheduled my surgery and I’ve been thrown into IVF to hopefully harvest and save some eggs so that I can have a biological baby someday. I also keep catching really yucky illnesses, for example, Monday, August 14th, I was admitted to Chandler Regional Hospital with a bad kidney infection which turned into kidney stones! I had to have them surgically removed and just got home today. I am a Pediatric Therapist; helping babies is my LIFE, so giving up the parts of my body to have a baby has been really hard for me, as is the fact that I am a contracted therapist. I do so much good everyday and don’t even think about it, but being a contracted therapist, we do not receive PTO or sick time, so all of these bills are adding up and IVF is $12,000, even after I was approved for the Livestrong Fertility program! It’s overwhelming.
Any helpful (tangible) tips or tricks you discovered for dealing with your symptoms and/or cancer? Stay positive! Honestly… I know it’s hard, so let yourself cry and be angry and wonder why this happened to you. Peter Pan is my favorite movie, and I swear I was Tinkerbell in another life, so “faith, trust, pixie dust” is my cancer motto! I was an athlete my entire life, have eaten healthy, never smoked, rarely drink, and I care for babies with special needs for a living. I don’t deserve to have cancer. No one really does, but letting myself feel the emotions helps. Also, do not be afraid to tell people. I was afraid for so long, but now, after we cut off all my hair and all these surgeries and random illnesses are coming up, I am sharing my story. If I can help ONE person with my story, I want to! I also am a positive person, most of my therapy clients call me “bubbly Tinkerbell,” but you have to let yourself feel and let people support you. I ALWAYS am the one to support! I will jump to anyone’s rescue, especially the families I work for, but I never thought about the fact that I need support too. Do not be afraid to ask for help, have courage, and be kind!
What did you know about ovarian cancer prior to your diagnosis? Not much. I knew that it was rare for it to go hand in hand with PCOS and endometriosis and I also knew I was way too young to have it!
What do you wish more people knew or understood about Ovarian Cancer?
I wish there was a voice for women with Ovarian Cancer. Every foundation we have contacted tells us that they do not support Ovarian Cancer, only Breast Cancer. Do they know that Ovarian Cancer kills 80% of women!? There needs to be more awareness so if my little story can help, I want to help!
How did your family and friends respond? My friends and family have been amazing. My boyfriend, Brent, and my sorority sisters have set up a Go Fund Me since we cannot afford all of these costs. I’ve also gotten cards, texts, FB messages, all kinds of love lately. I am floored by the support, but my parents, Brent’s parents and Brent told me,”Natalie, you help families and babies for a living. You spend your own money on toys and equipment for children with special needs who can’t afford it and don’t blink an eye. When one of your families’ house burnt down, you did what was in your heart, and helped them get on their feet. You go above and beyond for all who you love, and you never ask for anything except a hug every once in awhile, you deserve love and support too!”
How did/do you find joy during this experience? Working in Pediatric Therapy brings a lot of joy because I am the positive and seeing the babies helps. I also try to meditate daily and I ask Brent to tell me “happy thoughts” when I am having a rough day. I try to take joy in simple things like a comforting blanket, or a bubble bath. I also have a gratitude journal app on my iPhone, so even if I have had a terrible day, I still write three things that made me smile that day! Life is too short.
Did you learn anything about yourself? If so, what was it? I learned that at 5 feet tall, I am a lot bigger and stronger than I think! “Though she is little, she is fierce.” I realized that I can handle almost anything thrown my way!