Stegall Strong - My Ovarian Cancer Survival Story written by Laura Stegall
Two and half years ago I got the dreadful news that no one is prepared for, you have cancer. It seemed improbable that as a healthy, 39-year-old I would learn that the very large mass consuming my abdomen would result in an ovarian cancer diagnosis. I was naïve to the vague symptoms that had been plaguing me for months leading up to my diagnosis, and even more oblivious to the dreadful prognosis that trailed my diagnosis.
As a stage 3C survivor of ovarian cancer, I have been given a 39% chance of surviving 5 years and a mere 20% chance of surviving 10. I struggled tremendously with these statistics the first year in the wake of my diagnosis. I had three young children that needed me and the daily worry consumed me. What if I am not alive to raise my children? In my earlier life I was a college athlete, a competitor, and I would carry that same competitive spirit into this daunting journey. It would be necessary for me to attack this battle with the heart of a champion and a commitment to never giving up.
During my treatments, I created a mantra for myself that carried me through the most physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging days of my life. Strive. Thrive. Live. Repeat. I have repeated these words countless times the past two years and I strive to live out these words in all that I do. My future is too indefinite, far too elusive for me to focus on. Rather my mission and commitment are to winning today!
I know all too well that there are no guarantees in life. I lost my sister at 24 years old in a motor vehicle accident and my father just 9 years later. I learned early in life that life is fragile, short, and incredibly unpredictable. My ovarian cancer diagnosis is a reminder of this fragility. I may have 2 years, or I may outlive the dreadful prognosis that was given to me in 2019. The only thing I am sure of is that I will make every single day that I am blessed with count.
I want my children to know that their mom is a warrior. They have been my chief motivation throughout my journey. When I was beaten down, at my sickest, bald, and terribly weak my children were my strength, and my faith was my refuge. Additionally, my husband has been my rock and the champion for our family these past couple years. His support has been immeasurable. Equally important was the wonderful support system of our family and friends. I am forever grateful for the love and support of so many and am committed to paying it forward.
The nurses and doctors of Halifax Health were beyond remarkable and are the true game changers in my story. Dr. Kelly Molpus is masterful at his craft. His infinite commitment to his patients is seen in the detailed way he approaches each patient and the care and attentiveness he has always provided is extraordinary. Dr. Ruby Deveras’s brilliance is apparent in the tactical way she approached my case and every patient in her care. Dr. Molpus and Dr. Deveras have always approached my case with optimism and hope and for that I am extremely grateful. I am thankful to both of them for being a beacon of hope in a sea of uncertainty.
Prior to my diagnosis in 2019, I knew no one with ovarian cancer. However, in two and half short years since my diagnosis I have met and connected with countless amazing warriors in the trenches fighting the same battle for their life every day. These women are the face of cancer and the true heroes of this dreadful disease, each making a difference and leading to the next great breakthrough that will hopefully alter the dreadful statistics that define ovarian cancer.
Personally, I refuse to allow cancer to define my life. I am committed to being a beacon of hope for women that are faced with the same challenging diagnosis. Strive. Thrive. Live. Repeat. And together we can win today and the many days in front of us.
Laura Stegall is a two year survivor of stage 3C ovarian cancer, mother of Sara (11), Ashtyn (9) and Brady (7), and wife to Randy (14 years). Laura is the Athletic Director for DME Sports Academy.
For more information about Halifax Health – Center for Oncology, please visit halifaxhealth.org/cancercare