I knew what my chances were. I knew they weren’t good. But I refused to live by the numbers, the statistics. I refused to wake up every day and think about the fact that my chance of having a recurrence was roughly 85 percent.
Yes, you heard that right, 85 percent… within 2 years. I made it exactly one year and 4 months before I knew. Right around the time we were planning our annual Catwalk for a Cause fundraiser, I had my three-month blood work done and my CA-125 (the tumor marker that monitors my cancer) was rising. I don’t get hung up on numbers much so I didn’t think too much about it. But my doctor wanted to recheck in 30 days. If the trend continued upward, we’d need to do a scan. Unfortunately, it was rising, so we decided to do a PET scan.
Going in for a PET scan is probably one of the most nerve wracking, scary tests I’ve ever done. You’re alone in a cold, sterile room with an enormous machine looming over you while a strange voice tells you to hold your breath and you silently pray the tech doesn’t see anything light up on the screen that screams CANCER.
Then comes the wait. That dreaded call from your doctor telling you whether your cancer is back or not. Time stands still. For me, I try to keep myself busy with friends and family, knowing that no matter how much I worry, nothing will change whether my cancer is back or not.
Unfortunately for me, that call came and it was both good news and bad news. Good news: My body didn’t light up like a Christmas tree on the scan…Bad news: There was a tumor in my spleen and a small spot on my liver. I would need to meet with a team of doctors soon to prepare for surgery to remove the cancer that had come back as an uninvited guest.
Fast forward a week and surgery went well. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to have my tumors removed surgically (most aren’t able to have surgery because of too much tumor burden). I considered myself especially lucky when I woke up after surgery and doctors told me they were able to do the procedure lapriscopically and that I wasn’t full of disease in my abdomen like most Stage 3 ovarian cancer patients who experience a recurrence.
After a month of allowing my body to recover from the surgery, I’m back on the dreaded drugs. I started my first cycle of Carboplatin and Doxil recently. I’ve committed to doing four rounds as “insurance” to try and kill any microscopic cells that could have been left behind after surgery. So far I feel pretty good. Just super tired and weak, but I can handle that! I’ve done IP chemo and know how much worse it could be.
People ask me all the time how I always have a smile on my face and stay positive when it comes to my disease. The answer is simple: It could always be worse. I don’t look at my disease as a death sentence. Just the opposite, actually. I look at it as the opportunity to live like you are dying. To experience and know a type of joy that most people will never feel. It’s an opportunity to spend precious time with loved ones and make memories that they’ll carry with them forever. (I wrote about practicing gratitude here.)
I know the statistics of my disease. Yes, I know it’s deadly. But aren’t we all going to die? There is no written code somewhere that says I will die before any one of my friends or family. None of us knows when our last day here will be. I refuse to live in fear — in fear of the what ifs, the statistics. I’m too busy enjoying all the amazing things God has put in my path right now.
As we embark on the month of September, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, I encourage you to educate a friend about the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Tell them your yearly exam does NOT check for ovarian cancer, that no there isn’t an early detection test for this horrible disease. Make sure the men and women in your life know the signs and symptoms — bloating, fatigue, pelvic pain, back pain, trouble eating, frequent urination — and that if these symptoms persist over the course of three weeks, to get help from a doctor.
Thank you so much for your story. I always look for you at the races on t.v. and hope that they show you. You have been such an inspiration to me. I had surgery going on 2 years for uterine cancer. It came back after a year from the surgery. After surgery I did not have chemo and radiation but when it came back of course, I had to have both. I finished treatment in May and am on my 3 month check-ups. My husband and I have been praying for you and Martin. You both are so strong and really have helped others in this journey of cancer. May God bless you both. Praying for you both.
Hi Sherry! I just wanted to say thank you for all you and Martin are doing to help end ovarian and pediatric cancers. I’m a breast cancer survivor diagnosed when I was 34. It was the scariest time in my life. I have experienced many of the emotions and feelings you talk about in this post. It took me a long time to wake up in the morning and not think about cancer. Having gone through cancer has taught me how to appreciate everything others take for granted and also that trivial, silly things don’t matter in the long run. I will continue to pray for you and Martin. God Bless you both.
Sherry, I always knew we had a connection (you didn’t, though). I had my CA-125 test done around the same time you were first diagnosed. I remember getting the call that I was going to see a gynecological oncologist on the same day your diagnosis was announced–I even told my husband that it (cancer) got us both kicked in the gut. They rushed me into surgery at Presby in Charlotte also–we may have even been there around the same time. My numbers had just started inching upwards after 2 years of trying to convince the insurance geniuses that the cysts and other ailments I was suffering from were not just little female issues. I suffered through the “do I have ovarian cancer” time as well. I had a radical hysterectomy done and was blessed for some reason to have a benign biopsy. But I shuddered when I read your entire story–if I’d let the insurance people win, I believe I’d have an even bigger connection with you.
I have watched and read all I could about you and your story. I was always a huge fan of Martin’s, but now even more.
I absolutely hate what you’re going through–cancer is a disease that is NOT fair and NOT right. I so admire your wisdom, your honesty, your patience, your sense of humor, your giving, and your love of life. I would love to help your cause–not just for you and not just for other women, but because of “but for the grace of God” I’d be a different helper of your cause. What can I do to help–I live close to Lake Norman and would be honored to do what I could.
Your words are exactly how I feel. Thanks for putting it down on paper!!
I have enjoyed reading your story. I am huge NASCAR fan so I knew a little of your story from Twitter and NASCAR broadcast and truly love your down to earth personality. I had cervical cancer in my 30’s and went through the complete hysterectomy and as I have had no problems since in that area but in 2010 I was diagnosed with Lung Cancer and had my left lower lobe removed and again in 2012 I lost my right upper lobe. I go through CT and Pet scans every 6 months. I feel the way you do. I don’t think about the negative side, just being positive and eating foods much better diet. I have taken on guardianship of my granddaughter from birth (she is 19 months now) and I am doing everything in my power to stay healthy to be here with her for a long time. Keep doing what you are doing because you look absolutely wonderful when you we’re in victory lane in Chicago. God bless you and look forward to seeing you at the track
Stay strong Sherry. Positive attitude is so important. I look forward to see your wonderful smile. I’m a 21 year breast cancer survivor and so thankful I had the support of all my family, friends, co-workers and medical team. Praying for your continued recovery.
Sherry,,so strong. REMARKABLE WOMEN!!!!! YOUR INSPIRE SO MANY IN SO MANY WAYS……REGARDLESS OF THEIR SITUATION ..THANK YOU SO MUCH……BEST TO YOU AND MARTIN AT HOMESTEAD FLA. AT THE WINNER’S CIRCLE…………..
Sherry I feel for you as I had ovarian cancer in May of 2013 and it came back for the 4th year in a row this June. I am presently take 3 kinds of chemo as I am also stage 3 to 4. I was able to see my 60th birthday and our son’s wedding in July.I take it one day at a time and try to enjoy as much as I can. I can’t understand why they haven’t found a cure by now as my mom had cancer back in the 50’s. I know that you are going to be strong as I am and hoping all that have cancer will beat it. I am a HUGE fan of Martins and yours and have been to some races to cheer him on. I’ll be watching when he wins this year championship. Stay strong and wishing you many more years to come.
I appreciate your positive outlook and for sharing your experiences. I was diagnosed with stage 4 peritoneal cancer in May. I have gone through 4 chemo treatments, I had the debulking surgery 2 weeks ago and will start the next rounds of chemo on Oct. 3. I am being treated at Novant Cancer Center in Charlotte also. Thanks so much for sharing your story and giving me a perspective on what to expect and that there is hope. I am feeling fine and did not have many side effects from the first treatments of chemo. I will have to have the Nulasta this time each treatment. I was surprised at your 17 rounds of chemo , and so proud and amazed at your endurance and fight. Bowing to you and your tenacity to fight through that as I know it put a strain on your body. Can you share the experiences after your surgery and chemo treatments? how often were scans and CA 125 given? Did you have any symptoms on its return? I have been told I will have 3 rounds of chemo 3 weeks a part in my next phase. Seems you had much more chemo and treatments. How did they decide how many treatments you needed? So happy for you and wish and pray for your continued successes. Thankyou for sharing.
I was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in June this year. I have had 9 chemo treatments, just had laparoscopic surgery and was very successful. I start 9 more rounds of chemo starting next Friday. Glad to see your strength through this, I have been very strong through this, even though there are days you just want to quit. You just have to live for the day. Keep pushing forward.
Thank you for being a role model for those is us with Ovarian Cancer. I am 13 days past my surgery. My pathology isn’t back yet, but my doctor feels I am Stage 3. My chemo begins in 3 weeks. I hope I handle things with your positivity
Sherry – so happy for Martin today at Charlotte?. You are absolutely amazing and you’re in my prayers. I was 35 when diagnosed with cervical cancer but I was so lucky! It was Class 4 but it had not traveled anywhere. Stay strong and fight with all your might!
After the race yesterday at CLT all ive been able to do is think about you & Martin and everything you’re going thru. It doesnt seem fair or right that you all have to go thru this again. That two of the most amazing people I never met (LOL) are suffering. But you need to know that you BOTH have inspired .me to deal w my own medical issues in a different light & a different attitude. Plz know that you are never far from my thoughts and are always in my heart & prayers.
Hi, Sherry – You are an amazing woman & you are doing incredibe work for all women! I’m a huge NASCAR fan & for 15 years Jeff Gordon was my favorite driver. He retired so I moved on to Carl Edwards. And he retired. I didn’t know who I would choose as my next favorite driver. Last year I was impressed with the grace & emotion of both you & Martin Truex, Jr. as I made my new favorite choice. I choose my favorites not only for their driving ability but for who they are as people. I am thrilled at the year Martin is having & something tells me he will win it all! I was moved by your strength, positive support & sheer beauty as I did some research on who the two of you are as human beings. I am a 67 year old woman who lost both her mother & grandmother to breast cancer, not to mention numerous friends as well. I want you to know that I admire & respect your honesty & strong attitude of fighting this nasty disease. I will keep you in my prayers & follow your inspirational story on your blog. AND I fully expect to see you sitting next to Martin at the NASCAR banquet when he wins the championship!
Well said! I feel and did the same. My driver was Tony Stewart and Dale Jr. I liked 78 car from the beginning. His support of Sherry and his driving skills and in general an all around awesome man made my decision he’s my new favorite! Oh what a year he’s had! Keep going strong MTJ and Sherry! Keep kicking butt! I’ve survived lung cancer, now facing maybe breast. Cancer sucks! I lost everyone and fought my journey alone with Jesus. I wish anyone with cancer the strength to beat it. My heart goes out to loved ones who lost family or friends to cancer. Hope to get my MTJ black owners v neck tshirt one day.I wear my (Sherrys) Never Give Up bracelet everyday. My long sleeve shirt in winter and hat. Thanks for the inspiration!
Hi Sherry , I just unplugged my 4th chemo treatment this afternoon CANCER SUCKS! . You are an inspiration to so many people and taking people with you on your journey through this horrible disease. I am fighting Esophageal Cancer/ stomach cancer with a few lymph nodes involved, fingers crossed i have another scan scheduled Monday the 16th . Original diagnosis was for what the MD’s thought was my gall bladder did not rectify the problem a scope was ordered and they found a 4.5 – 5.0 cm tumor at base of esophagus and top of stomach. I wish you and Martin the best and hoping you get a clean bill of health after this round of treatments , I need to wait a few more days to find out what my next plan of action is going to be .
Thank you for sharing your story Sherry! You are a huge inspiration on my mother who found out she has IIIc ovarian cancer at the beginning of August in 2016… extensive surgery doesn’t describe what she went through. The 6 months of chemo were very hard to watch. The chemo was hard to watch her to go through… especially every third treatment she would have two bags, one of which was extremely strong nasty stuff… lots of love to you and you family and all the families fighting this. I am outraged there is not a preventative exam that can be done each year with a regular exam to check for this. Thank you for keeping on sharing your fight. You’re an inspiration to my mom and many others going through ovarian cancer as well!
You are a true inspiration and your positive spirit is contagious. I was fortunate enough to meet you yesterday at the race and it was such a highlight of.our day. we are huge fans to you and Martin and thankful to have had the opportunity to socialize with you yesterday. God bless!
You’re so lucky to meet Sherry! Wish I do one day!
Sherry, you inspire me give me strength to never give up! Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve bought the hat, hoodie, shirt, bracelet ran out of money so no tank top or MTJ racing black 78 shirt. Supporting your cause was mote important. I’m a cancer survivor too but things have popped up lately on test.. I just pray as ins. Co won’t pay for my meds. Keep going strong and I support yall all the way! You’re beautiful inside and out! Wish you the best! You got this!
Sherry, you are an inspiration. Hope you are feeling well. I am on Cisplatin and Doxil for my first recurrence if stage 4 ovarian cancer. #4 tomorrow
Congrats to Martin, we were cheering for him all afternoon.
You two are lucky to have each other. God bless you both.
Sherry, you were an inspiration to my wife, Pam. Her diagnosis was in the fall of 2014. Stage 4 ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed with BRCA genetic mutation which has little chance of long term success. Surgeries, 9 rounds of chemo and everything looked good. Summer of 2016 her numbers started to climb(CA125 54). She ended up with several small tumors and small intestine bowel blockage. None of the tumors were large and responded to chemo, but the bowel blockages increased. In Nov 2016 she had surgery to try to repair the bowel. The surgeon found wide spread cellular level cancer on her small intestine. The reason for the blockages. She continued to fought hard and was progressing ok until June 2017 when her bowel failed. She connected to you and Martin and watched every race the last few years. She cried when she heard of your re-occurance. She fought long and hard and passed on Oct 7, 2017. It is an awful disease, but she was my hero throughout the whole journey. Congratulations to Martin and praying for you to stay strong.