My sister Karene C. Pace was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2005. She is the middle of three sisters and has one brother. Karene’s immediate family includes two daughters, two granddaughters, two grandsons, one great grand-daughter and one great grandson, all of whom she loved dearly! We were sisters as well as best friends. Upon discovering her illness, Karene noticed small changes. The symptoms were small but she did not ignore them and in fact did go to the doctor. Initially when she first began to feel ill, she was told she had an overactive thyroid and she was put on medication to control it. Then she began to experience bloating and urinary inconsistency.
Soon after, Karene had surgery to correct her bladder issues. After surgery she began to feel a lump on her side when she would lie down. The third time she visited the doctor they conducted a scan and found the tumor existed on her ovaries. Shortly after, she had the surgery to remove the tumor and attempted to live a normal life, working every day and taking the chemo weekly. As a result of the chemotherapy Karene started to wear wigs. I brought a wig every time she needed a new one. Wearing our wigs became a fashion statement, not a necessity!
She was so courageous throughout her illness, never really telling anyone that she had ovarian cancer (other than family members). She loved to get the family together for the holidays, especially Christmas. There would be over 30 of us living here in Atlanta. In March of 2009 she started feeling ill again and in May 2009 her colonoscopy revealed that the ovarian cancer had moved to her colon. We went to see a different doctor that specializes in colon issues to explore what could be done. My sister Karene loved life! She loved eating at nice restaurants, barbecuing out on the patio, having super bowl parties at her house, as well as shopping and traveling. Fortunately she had a chance to see her two great-grandbabies be born. Karene even worked right up until she was hospitalized in June, 2009. She had cancer, but cancer did not have her! After a very courageous battle, she succumbed to ovarian cancer on October 20, 2009. Karene was 59 years old.
It is just as important for men to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer in caring for their wives, mothers, sisters, aunts and other female family members!