September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, and anyone can sign up to walk a virtual 5K and support this very worthy cause. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is approximately one in 78. Most are not detected in the early stages as there are no annual tests to take. I know this because I am one of those women, but I feel lucky. I will be walking my virtual 5K on Sept. 23, which falls on my three-month remission date. I have a few family members and friends that will be walking with me as well as my son, who will be walking at the same time but in New York City, where he lives.
My name is Jennifer Baldwin, and I live in Lake Nona with my husband. I have lived here for over nine years and absolutely love the area. I was diagnosed last December with stage 3 ovarian cancer. I went through all-day chemo sessions, a full hysterectomy, then even more all-day chemo sessions, some during COVID-19. I went into remission on June 23. I am now on a maintenance program that plays havoc with my immune system, so I have pretty much been in my own quarantine since December. It was scary going through chemo alone during COVID-19. My son inspired me to write a song, which I titled “You Are Not Alone.” I have dedicated my song to other cancer patients going through chemo, so they know they are not alone.
I said I feel lucky. That is because I have had an amazing support system throughout my cancer journey. I feel this is the main reason I was able to get through this. I could never have gotten to where I am without my amazing husband, who’s my rock, and my incredible son, who’s my emotional support. I also was lucky enough to have an additional support system of family and friends as well as a caring hospital staff, liaisons from my oncologist’s office; the hospital and insurance company were always checking up on me here and there to answer any questions or concerns I might have.
This has inspired me to write a book, not only about my cancer journey but to also offer tips and suggestions that have helped me, and, in turn, I hope I can help others that are just starting their cancer journeys. My son will also be writing some chapters from his point of view as a child of a mom going through ovarian cancer and give his tips in hopes of helping other children in the same situation.
I just started an online ovarian cancer group on Nextdoor Neighborhood so women in the Lake Nona area that have just been diagnosed or are already going through ovarian cancer know there are others here to talk to. We can help each other get through this.
The most important tips I could offer would be to build a strong support system, stay positive, and, yes, have a little fun and a sense of humor sometimes. It helps.
You are not alone.
Stay safe and be well.
By Jennifer Baldwin