Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer Fighter Works in Oncology Department Helping Others
“Cancer is a word, not a sentence”
This is the inspiring story of Cathy Amenta who is fighting with stage IV ovarian cancer since 2015. Despite all the hurdles brought by the cancer in her life, she doesn’t let it define her life. She is now working in a local hospital in oncology department helping others. In June of this year she will be obtaining the certification in Oncology massage with Tracy Walton & Associates and will be focusing mainly on this modality. She says, “It’s wonderful to give back and support my fellow cancer survivors in this way”.
“I was diagnosed with stage IV Ovarian Cancer in March of 2015. I had no real symptoms until I started having incontinence issues, which sent me to the doctor”.
“It was shocking to be told I had cancer. I am extremely healthy and fit. I ate and did everything right. At first it was a real roller coaster ride, going through the entire gamut of emotions. I was given a 12% five-year survival rate. I have gone through chemo treatments twice and was cancer free for almost two years. I am now on a targeted oral chemo that is working great. My numbers are good and I have had minimal side effects. I am beating the odds and God willing, plan on being around for a while”.
“My level of fatigue has increased. Making it difficult to do many of the things I use to do”.
Motivation to fight cancer
“At 52 years old I still have a lot of living to do. Skiing, hiking, and biking with my partner Bill and my pets are what I am living for”.
Message to other Fighters
“Never give up hope. I have taken away these three insights during my cancer journey. They are: – Life is not fair – There are no guarantees – And none of us are getting out of here alive, so make the most of the time we are given”.
Ovarian Cancer Survivor Runs an Online Support Group
“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” -Carl Sagan
Nora McMahon was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on March 17, 2015. She has successfully defeated her disease. She is helping others and runs the website “cancergrad”.
“March 17, 2015 (St. Paddy’s Day- lucky me) was my official diagnosis (in surgery)”
“Be body aware. Ask lots of questions. Find a care team that listens to you. Find a cancer community to connect with- cancer can feel incredibly isolating. Protect your peace- create boundaries from the people that drain you. Focus on what you can do, not what you cannot. Be kind to yourself. Honor your emotions, and know that you can still find moments of joy even in the worst times of your life. Delegate tasks for people who want to help, and allow yourself to receive/ask for help (I’m still learning this one!). Understand that grief is not linear. Above all, know that you are not the sum of your parts, your hair or your body. Your spirit is something far greater.”
Ovarian Cancer Survivor Now Runs Youtube Channel On Weight Loss
“Invictus Animus Est “ It is Latin for unconquerable soul.
“After meeting with two different oncologists, it was determined that I need to have a complete hysterectomy followed up by chemotherapy (carboplatin and paclitaxel) due to the sheer size of the tumor, and the presence of anaplastic cells which grow quite rapidly. On March 7, 2017, I underwent a robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy, unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (right side), omentectomy, and removal of pelvic lymph nodes for biopsy. Less invasive, maybe. Less painful, certainly not. Recovery was delayed due to developing MRSA and an additional three-day hospital stay. I began chemotherapy on April 6, 2017. In May, I had an intraperitoneal port surgically implanted in my abdomen, which is not a common practice, and was frankly, miserable. I gained weight, lost all my hair, even my eyelashes. The pain in my bones and joints was intense and awful, I did not know bones could cramp, but they can appear. Each chemo session was from 8 am to 3 pm three weeks a month, one week off for the doctor visit and recuperation. I did somewhere around 12 sessions total, maybe more. I still tried to make the whole process as painless for everyone around me as possible because I felt like such a burden. Being weak is never something I’m okay with. During chemo, on Memorial Day weekend we drove to Tennessee so my son could see real mountains. Despite my pain and increasingly foreign feeling body, I managed to climb down and then back up one of the mountains to show him a natural waterfall. He told me I was a rock star, even though I felt like I was going to collapse. I kept pushing along even though all I wanted to do was sleep. I began having some pain on my left side and learned had developed a seroma on my colon and had to have that drained. Due to that my oncologist said I could stop treatment since it was nearly concluded, my last chemotherapy was August 3, 2017. I also had genetic testing done, to determine whether or not I carry a gene mutation that would make me highly likely to develop cancer of the ovaries, and also breast cancer. The BRCA gene. A damaged BRCA gene in either location can lead to increased risk of cancer, particularly breast or ovarian in women. A BRCA mutation is a mutation in either of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are tumor suppressor genes. As it turns out, I do have the PALB2 gene mutation. The PALB2 gene is called the partner and localizer of the BRCA2 gene. It provides instructions to make a protein that works with the BRCA2 protein to repair damaged DNA and stop tumor growth. Women with an abnormal PALB2 gene had a risk of breast cancer that was 9.47 times higher than average. Women with an abnormal PALB2 gene had a 14% risk of developing breast cancer by age 50 and a 35% risk of developing breast cancer by age 70. During chemo, I gained about 50 pounds. I have battled my weight all my life and I was so miserable. I wanted to LIVE my life when I got better. On March 5, 2018 I had Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery. Having excess weight on me made it difficult to notice one main symptom or Ovarian Cancer, a bloated belly. It was time to get healthy for real and get to living my best life. I’m a cancer survivor, a trauma survivor, a bariatric patient and an advocate for mental health. I documented my cancer journey from diagnosis on, and I make new videos every week about my weight loss adventure. I invite you to follow me on Insta at and YouTube.”
Motivation to fight cancer
“I am a survivor. I have always been a survivor. I was going to see my son grow up. I had not made through 36 years of struggle to only make it that far. No way.”
“Aside from unexpected medical issues, I think worrying about the financial impact of all of this was the one thing I could not stop worrying about. No one expects for anything like this to happen and most people don’t have a backup plan, myself included.”
Message to other cancer patients
“All we can do is be vigilant. I want to share my story because I want women to be aware that this can happen to anyone! if this scares you, it should. If I look back, the symptoms were there, I just didn’t pay attention to them. If anyone takes anything from my story, it is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE. If you feel something is wrong, go get checked out and don’t let anyone dismiss you. We all lead busy lives, we have obligations, responsibilities, and stress. Your health is the absolute foundation of all these things. Take it from me, I saved my own life!”
Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer Survivor Says Find The Strength Within You
Makita was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016 but she didn’t lose her heart and fought back with all her might to defeat cancer for her lovely daughter.
“May 2016, I noticed a lump in my lower abdomen, after 4 months of seeing several different doctors I was diagnosed with stage 3b ovarian cancer in October 2016, after removing the 21 cm tumor.”
“I felt so isolated. I was 19, a single mum living in a new city purely for treatment. I could only take each day as it came, but those days seemed to drag out as I had nothing or no one to distract me from how I felt. Walking through the shops I tried to ignore the looks of pity. I could hear the whispers; ” oh look at that bald girl, poor thing”. But by the end of it, I felt a new empowerment… a new strength. During the journey, I was able to really get to know myself and I found a confidence and strength I didn’t know I had.”
Motivation to fight cancer
“I had a 1 year old daughter, need I say more? In a matter of weeks, I lost my energy, I lost my hair and I lost the bounce in my step. I felt ill, I looked ill though she never looked at me any different. She didn’t see a change, I was just mum. And I was determined to not let it (cancer) alter my abilities as her mum; cancer had taken so much from me, I wasn’t going to let it take anything from my daughter.”
The biggest hindrance
“Not being able to admit I wasn’t okay. I felt I had to be strong the whole time when I just wanted someone to accept I wasn’t okay. And having to send my daughter away while I spent 2 months in the hospital, as I had no family close by.”
Message to other fighters