Survivor Stories / Tributes

Steffany Duke

Personal Description:

Dedication:

To my Mom, who has taught me how to be a strong woman. Thank you for always standing by me and encouraging me to survive.

Personal Description:

Below is an editorial article I wrote for my college newspaper about surviving ovarian cancer.

Fall television premieres, the start of autumn, back to school, and end of summer sales at the mall. Those are things that most people think about when the month of September rolls around every year. As for me, those topics are last on my mind. The one thing that I think of is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer, and it could have killed me.

It all started in May of 2005. I had just finished my first year of college, and I was working at my dream job. I was on top of the world, and I thought my life was going perfectly until I started having problems.

Some of the common symptoms of ovarian cancer are abdominal pain, urgency of urination,unusual fatigue, change in bowel habits,and unexplained weight gain or loss. All of those symptoms I had, so I went to my family doctor.

After several different tests I was sent to my gynecologist, and then to an oncologist in Houston, TX.
I could not believe what was happening to me.

Of course, I thought I was fine and there was no need to go to M.D. Anderson, but then I heard the harsh reality: I could have ovarian cancer. The mere mention of cancer scared me enough, but when the doctor said I would have
to have surgery in one week I broke down.

I had a tumor the size of a grapefruit on my right ovary.
I kept asking how could this happen? Why me? As if dealing with the reality that I had a tumor taking over my body weren’t enough, I then had to sign lots of papers — papers that gave the doctor the permission to do anything to save me if the tumor was malignant and spreading throughout my body.

That meant saying,“Yes, doctor take away my chances of having children; take away everything that makes me a woman.” Once the paperwork was out of the way, it was time for surgery.

I was scared. I didn’t know if I was going to wake up and hear that I was okay and the tumor was benign, or if I was going to hear that the next step would be chemotherapy.

After about eight hours of surgery, I finally
got my answer. The tumor was malignant; but, thankfully,
it was confined to my right ovary and had not spread.

There was some bad news though. The whole ovary had to be removed. There was good news along with the bad. I could still have children because the left ovary was not affected.

It has now been four years, and I am now a
survivor of stage 1A ovarian cancer.
I graduated from Lamar University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications, and now I am working in the beautiful city of Austin, TX. I have married a wonderful man, and I am looking forward to having children soon.

There is nothing that will hold me back from reaching my dreams. One of those dreams is to educate young women about ovarian cancer because it can happen to any of us at any age. I was only 19 when my ovarian cancer was discovered.

Last updated on: 04/30/2009


Comments:

You are the most amazing person I know. Who else could have gone through something like that and have the will to make it through and be a better person. You know I could have never done that I would have shut down…you are my inspiration to live my life to the fullest and never let complications in my “perfect world” make a difference in who I am and what I want in life. Thank you!!!!!! I love you sooo much and look forward to helping you spread the message any way that I can!!!!! Don’t give up…people are listening!!!!!!

Fifer :) – 05/01/2009

I Love You.~

Chris :) – 05/03/2009

Steffany,

Thank you for your sharing your story with all of us.

We need to continue to support other women across the United States.

We salute you.

Elizabeth Howard
OCRF

Elizabeth Howard – 05/22/2009

Thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration to others. I am also a survivor of ovarain cancer (10 years). Best wishes to you in all the years ahead. May God bless you now and always.

Judy Black – 12/18/2009

I have had those symptoms since 2005, and now.. I feel like I am being drained of life, and there is no one to turn to, and no hope for me. it has gotten so bad lately.. But, no matter who I contact… without insurance I cannot get help. I hope that my ovary problem has not caused this drastic of a crisis, but who knows if I will find out in time or not. I am glad you did. you seem to be a light to the world around you.

Alyssa Mendenall – 01/12/2010

Begun, the great internet edcuaiton has.

Danyon Danyon – 01/24/2012

There is two ways to go in the treatment of hot fluhess. Allopathic or Naturopathic.As hot flashes are the main symptom of menopause, the favorite treatment by your treating doctor will be the Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). On the other hand, the use of herbs for hot flashes is more of alternative way. The basic are herbs such as the Licorice root, Panax ginseng, Black Cohosh and Wild yams. In lite cases, one can experiment with the combination of those.If the case of your problem is more deeply seated, then the use of special mixes is the right way to go.Out of those, the best ones (in my opinion) are: Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia), Kacip Fatimah (Labisia Pothoina) and Akar Serapat (Paramignya Polyne) mix.Or Shu Di Huang, the steamed and dried form of Sheng Di Huang which does tonify the blood with hot flashes, night sweats, dizziness, pale complexion, palpitations, nocturnal emissions, insomnia, irregular menses, uterine bleeding and post partum bleeding. It also does foster Yin – kidney Yin deficiency with constant thirst, steaming bone disorder, tinnitus, premature graying.Or Sheng Di Huang as one of herbs for hot flashes, Sheng Di Huang is mainly used to clear the heat, cool the blood and foster Yin for production of body fluid.Sheng Di Huang is used for high fever, constant thirst, red tongue, bleeding due to excessive heat in the blood and promote body fluids. Sheng Di Huang is used for Yin deficiency with damage of body fluids by excessive heat, symptoms such as mouth dryness, low fever, constipation, throat pain.Also is used for sores in mouth and tongue, irritability, insomnia and malar flush.One supporting factor is also the Wu Wei Zi which is mainly used as an astringent preparation to decrease perspiration, benefit kidney to calm heart and benefit Qi to produce fluid.Now you have the information but the footwork must be done by you.As each of us is an individual, we do respond differently to even the best medication in the world.The only way now is the trial and error. To be under the supervision of experienced Naturopath wouldn’t hurt you either.

Emenda Emenda – 06/21/2012

Thanks for sharing your story. Mine was very similar to yours except on the left side instead. Please keep us posted on any future pregnancies :) I’m hoping to have children sometime too; I just get worried. Happy thoughts!

Lauren Brouillet – 08/22/2012