I never imagined I had cancer. I was 45 years old with no history of cancer in my family. I was working full time as a veterinarian, traveling and taking loads of photographs. But there were nagging abdominal pains, fatigue and an urgency to urinate that became increasingly hard to ignore. In July of 2014, after palpating a mass in my abdomen, I was diagnosed with Stage 3C ovarian cancer.
I underwent major abdominal surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center to remove my ovaries, uterus, part of my colon, and lymph nodes resulting in a successful "debulking".
After 6 rounds of intensive chemotherapy, I was in remission. Unfortunately, a year later the disease recurred and I continue to be treated today.
According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women ages 35-74. Given the vague symptoms of ovarian cancer, most women are diagnosed in late stages when 5-year survival rates are as low as 20%.
After my diagnosis, photography, which had been a hobby, became a passion. Although there were days when I was too tired to lift my camera, photography was the only activity that could distract me from thinking about my diagnosis.
Sharing pictures online kept me socially engaged, and editing photos of all the beautiful places I've been so fortunate to have explored inspired me to keep fighting.
I established Shooting for a Cure to give a face to ovarian cancer, educate women about its symptoms, and raise funds for an early detection test through the sale of my photographs.
50% of print sales will be donated to Drapkin Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania