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Healthy You

Healing Power: Turning the Tables on Ovarian Cancer

When her body just wasn't feeling right, Cynthia Lund made the decision to go to NorthShore Evanston Hospital where she eventually diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. Cynthia and her husband ultimately decided to work together with Gustavo Rodriquez, MD, and the team at the NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center to fight Cynthia's battle with several rounds of chemotherapy and a complete hysterectomy.

In her NorthShore patient story, Cynthia talks about her journey and how research has helped her look forward to a brighter future with her family.

How did you come to realization that your worsening symptoms were probably not caused by stress?
I had recently had a baby and instead of my stomach going down it was increasingly getting bigger--I ate very little and got full very fast--yet my weight was up a bit--I went to the emergency room looking as though I was five months pregnant.

Is it accurate to say your diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer took you totally by surprise? How did you respond?
I was COMPLETELY SURPRISED. I thought something was wrong with my appendix. Never in a million years did I think I had ovarian cancer, even though my mom is a survivor. I thought I was too young--how naive! I responded by immediately doing an enormous amount of research and made appointments with three doctors in the Chicagoland area.

After your diagnosis, you spent considerable time interviewing different healthcare providers.  Why did you ultimately choose NorthShore? Dr. Rodriguez? Why was this research so important for you and your family?
I wanted the best doctor for many reasons: Top research available, feel comfortable and to ultimately feel a connection so that I could have confidence as I went through this fight. After meeting Dr. Rodriguez, not only did I feel comfortable with his demeanor, but I knew he was in touch with the latest research. I also thought the Mayo Clinic and University of Chicago connections were important for any collaborations needed on my diagnosis and treatment.

You underwent genetic testing and it revealed you are a carrier of the BRCA1 genetic mutation. How does this knowledge better inform your care moving forward?
I now have consistent check ups for breast and ovarian care. I also needed this information so I could be better informed for my three daughters. When they are older we will get on a consistent routine for high-risk check ups.

What would you tell other women your age who may be experiencing the same kind of symptoms?
Listen to your body and your intuition--and get to a doctor when you have signs that something isn't right. Get to a second doctor if something doesn't "feel" right with the first!

What’s next for you and your family? What do you look forward to the most?
Through our cancer journey we found the gift of enjoying each other and living in the present moment. We cherish our time and look forward to making memories. This includes road trips, travel, festivals, play time, singing and lots of dancing!

What did you learn through this experience?
Listen to your body, listen to your heart and share your gifts and your truest self with the world.