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Julia is now 19, a college freshman and as of June 29, 2010 she is a survivor!! The best part is these days she shares her beautiful voice and guitar playing at various fundraisers. She is now an Intern for NOCC (National Ovarian Cancer Coalition) performs and is a keynote speaker for Relay for Life and participates at the VIE For The Kids (Connecticut Children's Medical Center) annual fundraiser.
This is her story - in her words (written when she was 10)
It all started when I was 7 years old. I was having stomach aches and I was tired all the time so my mom took me to the doctor. We thought I was lactose intolerant or that I had appendicitis. When it turned out that it wasn’t those things, my Mom suggested we do an MRI and it turned out that I had a tumor in my right ovary. I went in for surgery on June 29th, 2005. That night the doctors found out that not only were there tumors in my right ovary, they were in my left one too and they had spread. I had cancer. They took out my ovaries.
Dr. Hagstrom, my oncologist, said I needed chemotherapy. He told me about the side effects and I was afraid at first. But then I realized that it was the best choice for me - because if I hadn’t gotten the chemo there would have been a 75% chance of me not living. I was really afraid of losing my hair. I remember one time when I was in the shower I was washing my hair and when I pulled on my hair to get the excess water out, a clump of it came out and I started crying. I lost all my hair and the chemo also made me feel very sick all the time. The drugs that they were giving me made my teeth turn brown, and had to chew on these chalky mouth drops and it was HORRIBLE! My mom also had to give me shots everyday and I hated it - I cried every time. I remember when I would get CAT scans and ultra sounds I had to drink a lot of this lemonade medicine that made me glow! (It tasted awful too). I remember going into the hospital for my first treatment of chemotherapy after surgery and looking out of the window and seeing a Dunkin Donuts. Now, when I go to the hospital for after care and I see that Dunkin Donuts I know we’re getting closer! I don’t like going to the hospital every six months but I know that it’s important to get CAT scans and checkups.
There are some ok memories though too. When I was on the 8th floor (the cancer ward at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the CCMC) recovering after my surgery and getting treatments, the nurses painted my nails and played lots of games with me. There also was a playroom that I could play in which had plastic toy trucks that you could ride around the hallways in! I remember all the books that I would look at with the nurses. The nurses and doctors were really nice and took very good care of me. They always explained everything to me and played with a doll to show me what my treatments would be like. I had a port in my chest for my chemotherapy and they showed me how it worked. I will never forget that.
Now I am 10 years old and three years into recovery and I am feeling very well. I am in the fifth grade and I love my teacher! My best friends are in my class and the future looks very bright for me. As I said, I still have to go in for treatments every six months and soon I’ll start taking hormones to develop into a woman. My hair did grow back, and I’ll probably only cut an inch off every time I get a hair cut - FOREVER!
I want to give thanks to all my doctors, nurses, my Mom and Dad and friends and strangers who supported me through these tough times. You have all been such a great help and wonderful to me during these years and I thank you so very much for that. And for all the girls out there who have ovarian cancer, and who are undergoing chemotherapy, stay strong and believe in yourself and believe in the future. You can be a survivor too.