My first visit to the emergency room for low levels of iron and severe fatigue. To be honest, it didn't seem as hectic as TV shows and movies make it out to be, but then again, I was in the emergency room for ten hours before I was taken in for my first ultrasound...and then my first MRI. Both scans showed something wedged in my abdomen: a 6-inch-in-diameter cyst that was, to the doctors' knowledge, very much benign. My first surgery was to be a simple extraction, and it took place the following morning.
Long story short, the doctors were wrong. My parents entered the game room with long faces and a hard step. Priya and I were watching YouTube videos when we should've been finishing our Algebra II homework; living life on the edge, I guess. That night, I learned that the fluid-filled cyst was mostly filled with fluid, but a small focus of cells had made the transformation into a malignant tumor. I had ovarian cancer -- it's as simple as that -- and yet it took me the entire night to wrap my head around the concept. Why me?
My second surgery was very early in the morning. We left the house at 5am with my heart fluttering as if it had wings and my eyes tearing up as I hugged both my grandma's and aunts goodbye. A staging laparotomy confirms the presence of ovarian cancer by taking biopsies of both ovaries and surrounding organs. In my case, most of the surgery was precautionary, and the organs that did end up in a jar were extreme preventative measures to ensure that no cancer remained.
Unlike other cancer patients, my tumor was a rare, borderline case. The second pathology came back with negative results for all the biopsied organs -- a good sign. Medical professionals decided that enduring chemotherapy would harm my body more than it would help it, so they decided upon "surveillance," which means regular MRI scans. While I am grateful for my full body of hair and top-notch attendance at school, I will always wonder why cancer snaked its way into my life.
And so, ovarian cancer launched our life of research. Ever since we experienced, first-hand, the roller coaster cancer can take you on (even if you don't meet the height requirement), we have aspired to create an early detection mechanism that prevents future patients from walking to the battle blind. Our goal is to change the life of at least one individual for the better, together.