My dedication belongs to my Grandfather. If my grandfather has not been there to push me and made me realize that cancer is only a bump in the road i would not be the women i am today. He is the reason i am living each day to the fullest. I love him more than life itself.
Hello, my name is Elena Centurino. I currently reside in Queens, New York. I am a twenty year old pre-med student at Columbia University in Manhattan, New York. My ultimate goal is to become a trauma surgeon. Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be a physician. When most children were frighted of the doctors office, I was pretending I was sick so that I could go. My story starts on September 28, 2008 I went to a scheduled gynecologist because i had spotting of blood between my periods and i was just being cautious (My menstrual cycle has always been a problem. My period was never scheduled, came as it pleased, my cramps were unbearable, bloating to the point that i could not button my jeans!) During the appointment, my gynecologist took an ultrasound, and which came up negative. (My gynecologist is not only considered our “family doctor”, he is our family friend as well) nevertheless he is very aware of the fact that cancer is extremely common with the women in my family. So once again, just to be on the safe side, he referred me to an oncologist at Columbia Presbyterian (Which is a top hospital which is also associated with my college in New York). October 6, 2008 eight days after my initial gynecologist appointment, I am now at Columbia Presbytrian Hospital about to meet the oncologist. Walking into the office was a breeze, they have requested that I do not drink or eat anything so I had an empty bladder, I know I was going to be hungry so I had made lunch plans with my friends for right after my exam. During the exam, my oncologist and an the ultrasound tech, had taken a transvaginal ultrasound (It is used to look at a women’s reproductive organs). Once completed, the doctor continued with a biopsy. When all of the test where through i sensed the doctor seemed somewhat concerned. After my appointment the doctor said he would be in touch, so I went on with lunch with my friends and on with my life without a care. On October 10, 2008, I have received a phone call around 10AM from my oncologist, he suggest he would like me to come in later that day. Around 4 o clock or so, my mother and I walked into his office, not definitely not prepared for the news that was to come. As I was shaking his hand and introducing him to my mother, I could immediately sense something was wrong by the look in his eyes. It was quiet for a moment, when my doctor turned to me and he said “I’m sorry, I usually do not have to tell this to teenagers”. I looked at my mother while her eyes started to fill with tears yet something was not clicking in my head. As I looked toward my doctor once again, he began to tell me that I am diagnosed with epithelial cancer (Cancer that develops in the cells on the surface of the ovary). They have determined it to be T1c -Stage IC (Which means the tumor is limited to both ovaries and the ovarian capsule is ruptured). Luckily it has not spread to any of my lymph notes, or reproductive system. (Here i was an eighteen freshmen in college being told that I have cancer. I took as i took everything back then, in one ear out the other. It truly took about a week to understand how serious my disease actually was). My oncologist had scheduled several more test/appointments and ultimately leading up to an oophorectomy. I must have been one of his most annoying patients. Not more than than a week after i was diagnosed, I realized my situation and I must of called him 20 times a day. I had asked him every question possible, but my main concern was children. (Children are a huge part of my life, I have twin 4 year old brother and sister, and I am a nurse at a day care center. All I ever dreamed about since I was a little girl was having a family of my own). The oncologist told me its not hundred guaranteed but I could possibly bare children through embryo freezing. That day the doctor referred me to a reproductive center in Brooklyn. The reproductive center informed me that the procedure will take about 3-6 weeks and was very costly. I certainly wasn’t about to put a price on my happiness, and the timing was perfect. The date for my procedure was set to come before my surgery and everything appeared to be under control. About a week prior before my embryo procedure my oncologist, my mother and I had a very long discussion about everything I needed to know. The same day I was given another ultrasound (Never expecting how matters could get worst). My embryo procedure was scheduled for November 3, 2008. On the morning of November 1, 2008, I received a unexpected phone call from the oncologist requesting me to come to the office as soon as I can, from experience I knew this wasn’t going to be good. Within the hour I was in his office, nervously awaiting the news. Finally he explained to me the problem, my last ultrasound has shown precancerous cells on my cervix, and uterus. And that is when he shot me in the heart, recommending a full hysterectomy. I felt my heart drop into my stomach. I stuttered the words, “Can i still have children?”, he looked at my and shook his head. And for the first time since i have been diagnosed, tears started to run down my cheeks and i felt complete helplessness. Just as I thought I have had everything under control, I had a procedure set in two days that meant absolutely nothing. The heart break of not being able to bear my own children caused me to have a temporary emotional break down. Gratefully the people closes to me helped me threw the temporary heart break & influence my decision to go along with the surgery and forget the procedure was ever an option. November 13, 2008, a few days before my nineteenth birthday, was the day, i wont ever forget this morning, i felt like i was walking on death roe. I was at the point i wanted to die and wanted to know what did i do so wrong in my life at eighteen years old to have cancer? At 9 o clock am was my surgery, around 3 o clock pm i have awaken fully from my surgery with a headache & in pain. Depressed as ever i spent the night in the hospital because the doctors were worried about the pain i was having. November 4, 2008 i was discharged at 12 pm. For the next couple of weeks after my surgery. I was to the point i did not want to live. I stopped going to school, i stopped working, i stopped talking to my friends, and barely talked to my family. All i kept thinking was why me? im eighteen years old, just turned nineteen? Why me? After that i started to get angry, i hated the world and everyone in it. I lost many acquiescence and a few friends over words and actions I come to regret. Through this horrible experience, the one moment that opened my eyes to everything, is the day my grandfather (A leukemia survivor, just when thought I been to hell and back, he has had around 7 different surgeries, chemo, and countless treatments). He comes and sits at the end of my bed and looks me in my eyes, and says “Cancer is only a bump in the road of your long and beautiful life, and don’t you ever think for one second about letting this bullshit disease run your life”. And ever since that moment my cancer has been my blessing. Through my oncologist, I have been introduced to the chief of surgery, and as well as a trauma surgeon at Columbia. And with that I have grown a business relationship with them. I have witnessed countless number of various surgeries between the both of them and it forged my desire and inspiration to become a surgeon grow that much more. Additionally, cancer has enabled me to realize the more important things in life. My family, my close friends, the people who make me smile. I have this little saying now, the only people in my life are the people when I wake up in the morning and think about them, the thought of them makes me smile :0). Thank you and I appreciate you taking the time to read my story.
Last updated on: 10/07/2010
she is a trooper and i have all the respect in the world for this girl. i only know her for about 2 months now and after reading this i feel she touched my heart. keep your head up and stay positive. you are a beautiful woman with a great head on your shoulders keep your head up beautiful.
louis degati – 09/04/2009
This girl is my not only my bestfriend she is my sister. She means the world to me she is a part of the reason i am the person I am today. She has been through hell and she still looks at life with a positive additude.
Justine G – 09/09/2009
I too only know her very short period of time and the positivity she exudes is amazing. You were dealt a very unfortunate hand in life and I know you don’t accept sympathy which is fine, I’m simply stating how much respect I have for you Elena. keep Strong!!!!
Al S – 09/14/2009
You dont know me, but I really admire your strength and determination. I lost my cousin almost a year ago and it still makes me sad and angry, especially when I look back on this website and at the tribute I wrote. But reading your story reminds me that there is still hope and I have to keep pushing for people like yourself for more research and education regarding ovarian cancer. I wish you only the best in life and to one day hear that you have become a trauma surgeon! All the best!
Cynthia Bender – 10/12/2009
What an inspirational story. Thank you for sharing it with others. I am also an ovarian cancer survivor (10 years). I admire your courage and positive attitude about life. You are awesome. May God’s blessings be upon you now and all the days to come.
Judy Black – 12/18/2009
Inspirational and admirable
Dylan McAllister – 09/15/2010
I have spent hours on the phone with Elena, and she always had a way of inspiring me to be happy
she has a wonderful personality and a heart of gold
I’m very glad she’s okay
Anthony Breese – 09/28/2010
Elena, you’re story is so touching and amazing. I had ovarian cancer at 18 and now I am a first year medical student, four years later! So I totally understand your hopes and dreams and I wish you all the best!!
Natalie G – 10/21/2010
This infaomrtion is off the hizool!
Infinity Infinity – 01/23/2012
Your artilces are for when it absolutely, positively, needs to be understood overnight.
Alexavia Alexavia – 01/24/2012
This introduces a pleasnligy rational point of view.
Nettie Nettie – 01/24/2012