One year ago today, 46-year-old Lisa Nuse Dekka Franklin was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer.
A vibrant, energetic and health-conscious dancer, Nuse looked not a day over 30. But when the doctor delivered her the news, it nearly knocked her off her feet.
Only three years before, Nuse’s only child, Justin, had graduated from college and was starting a promising career in acting. Feeling satisfied she had raised her son well, Nuse decided to do something totally different and move to Dallas, Texas, where she would begin a fresh new chapter.
Initially, her story in Dallas was reading like a pretty good book… except for one small issue: The gnawing indigestion she’d been experiencing over the last few years had grown from just annoying to virtually unbearable. Finally, it was joined by extreme bloating that eventually sent her to the emergency room.
So when, on August 16, 2013, the doctor handed her the diagnosis, it seemed hardly conceivable. How could this be? She had seen several doctors about the burning in her stomach, and not a single one hinted at… cancer.
What she found out next was that Ovarian Cancer often goes undetected until its advanced stage. So, basically, the cancer had been growing in her body for some time without her even knowing.
She also learned that, because of the late diagnosis, only half of all OC patients are alive five years after diagnosis. She wondered, Would her latest chapter be her last?
Fast forward to today. Exactly one year, three rounds of chemotherapy, a hysterectomy, a complete diet overhaul and tons of yoga-mediation-prayers-and-natural-remedies later, Nuse is cancer-free!
On Saturday, August 16, at Joloff Restaurant in Bed-Stuy, Nuse celebrated her one-year “Cancerversary” to promote public awareness and education of the signs, symptoms and risk factors of Ovarian Cancer.
“Even though cancer is not a sexy conversation, it’s a necessary conversation– particularly in underserved communities where you do not find a whole lot of information or talk,” said Nuse.
Ovarian Cancer Facts:
- Ovarian Cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecological cancers in the United States
- One in 72 women will be diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in her lifetime
- Currently, there is no accurate screening test for Ovarian Cancer (a pap test is NOT a screening test for Ovarian Cancer)
- Only half of all patients are alive and disease-free five years after diagnosis. However, there is a 92 percent survival rate when the cancer is detected and treated early
- The signs and symptoms women should look for are abnormal and persistent bloating, an urgency to urinate, a feeling of fullness after a half of plate of food, pain and bleeding during intercourse
“If symptoms continue for more than two weeks, visit a doctor and ask your doctor to rule Ovarian Cancer out,” said Nuse. “Since the symptoms can mimic PMS or gastrointestinal problems, doctors may not even think about testing for cancer. Just say ‘Can you please give me the test?’”
There are two tests for Ovarian Cancer: the CA125 blood test, and an intra-vaginal ultrasound where you can clearly see the ovaries.
“So you be your own personal advocate and ask the doctor,” Nuse said.
Other OC and breast cancer survivors joined Nuse at her cancerversary event for dancing, drumming, poetry, games, food, commiserating and tons of information about the disease and the importance of early diagnosis.“In addition to my one-year cancerversary, we wanted to let women know that there are survivors; there’s a community here where they can get help,” said Nuse.
When Nuse set out to write her new chapter, she never imagined the story would have the terrifying twist, the heartbreaking trials… and the beautiful triumphs it does.
Today, her heart sings and she dances once more, knowing her story has taken on a more powerful direction.
Nuse said she hopes to make her OC celebration in Bed-Stuy an annual event so that more women with Ovarian Cancer can share fewer and fewer stories of surprise and sadness, and more and more stories of survival.
For more information on Ovarian Cancer, contact:
SHARE: Self Help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer 844-ASK-SHARE www.sharecancersupport.org
Ovarian Cancer National Alliance 202-331-1322 ovariancancer.org
Cancer Care 800-813-HOPE cancer care.org
American Cancer Society 800-227-2345 Cancer.org
Cancer Support Community 888-793-9355 cancersupportcommunity.org
Also, on Saturday, September 6, at Prospect Park, survivors of Ovarian Cancer and supporters of Ovarian Cancer awareness will hold a T.E.A.L (Tell Every Amazing Lady) Walk.