Ovarian Cancer Awareness: One Woman’s Story Of Loss & Gain

Good CausesHealth 3 Comments

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By Mara Sandler – When I was a little girl I used to say to my cigarette smoking mother,“When you get lung cancer from putting poison in your body I will never speak to you again”.  She quit smoking the day she found out she had stage IIIc ovarian cancer in May of 1996. She was 52 years old.

My mom, Janet Burros, was my best friend. We spoke 2-4 times a day, every day. She was my first call in the morning and the last call at end of the day. When I married my college boyfriend at 23 years old, he would say, “You know this is not normal.” Well, it was normal for us.

Mara and her mom JanetAt the time, I was getting my master’s degree in counseling psychology at Columbia’s Teachers College in New York, and every night she would call me to get a play-by-play of my day. I’d tell her, “Mom you are suffocating me.” She would respond by telling me, “I promised myself when you were born that you were going to be the most loved little girl in the world.” My mother lost her mother when she was 14 years old and she wanted me to feel the love she had missed out on – it’s safe to say she lived up to her promise and loved me like no one’s business.

Like so many other families facing a cancer diagnosis, when we found out she had ovarian cancer, it turned our world upside down.

My mom hadn’t been feeling well for some time. She was experiencing symptoms of  stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea and the feeling of fullness, even after a light meal, which turned out to be fluid on her abdomen. Doctors kept telling her it was “just her changes”, but clearly it was more.

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  • Carol

    Wow, this woman’s dedication is impressive, as is her attitude and fortitude! Well done Mara, keep up the good work.

  • Julie

    Thank you, Mara, for sharing! My mom also died of Ovarian Cancer, at the age of 58, 7 years ago. My relationship with her was so much like yours. Last year I had a bilateral oophorectomy due to masses that were suspicious of Ovarian cancer and an elevated CA125. Life has been ever changing!

  • Michelle

    Thank you for sharing your story. Mine is so similar. I miss picking up the phone and calling my mom too. She was just 60. No one loves you like your mom. Yours would be so proud of you!
    My mom’s oncologist came out of her surgery, told my dad, “I’m sorry” and looked straight at me and said, “You better be careful.” I wonder about getting my ovaries out too. I am 38 but done having children. Are you glad you did?
    Prayers that your efforts lead to a CURE!