In March of 2009, as the school year was coming to a close, elementary school teacher Noreen, 62, was often feeling tired. Initially, she didn’t think much of it since so many of her fellow teachers felt the same way as the last quarter of school approached.
She began to notice that her abdomen was getting bigger, too, but she thought it was because she had not been exercising as regularly as she would have liked and blamed it on getting older. When Noreen went to her family doctor, he ordered blood tests, CT scans and sent for further testing.
Soon after, she learned that she had stage IV ovarian cancer and limited treatment options. Noreen met with a gynecologic oncologist while she was still in the hospital. He told her that the disease would probably respond to surgery and chemotherapy, but it was very likely that the cancer would come back. Unfortunately, her doctor was correct. Her cancer came back just as she finished her first cycle of chemo. Noreen was pleasantly surprised to find out that chemo was not as bad as it’s often portrayed in movies, television and novels. In her opinion, her doctors and nurses did a wonderful job at making her treatment and symptoms manageable. She also started to go to yoga classes after work and found that it seemed to give her more energy. When Noreen quit teaching she was able to go to more yoga classes and take part in many of the other activities Mount Carmel and Haven of Hope provides for patients. Just like Noreen, the participants had some type of cancer, and some were still getting treatment.
“They understand what I’m going through and that makes it easy to feel comfortable with them,” she said. “They’re not just a bunch of sick people who only talk about cancer all the time. We find plenty of other things to discuss. The one thing we don’t do is sit around and feel sorry for ourselves.”
Nearly five years after her diagnosis Noreen is as active as ever. “The more I move, the more I do, the better I feel,” she added.