Healthy Living Beyond Cancer

A tribute to the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance

Article by Sean O'Keefe

Photography by CatMax Photography

Originally published in Midtown Lifestyle

"It is always smart to pay attention to your body and what it is trying to tell you," said Sara.  "Ask questions while you are at your doctor's office - no question is too small."

Sara Deberry was diagnosed in 2013. "I received the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance (GOCA) Bag of Hope when I attended my chemotherapy orientation. It contained all kinds of fun things; a hat, a soft fleece blanket, a water bottle, and super soft and warm socks."  Sara exclaimed, "I still use some of the items today," as she recounted her introduction to GOCA. The Bag of Hope is provided, free of charge to Georgia based, newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients and consists of important information about resources and fellowship as well as numerous comfort items all designed  to support the needs of women who are living with and through ovarian cancer.

Sara is a participant in the annual GOCA Teal Trot and has a personal fundraising team called Sara's Amigos that is comprised of friends and family who come together in her honor and rasies critical funds every year for GOCA.  She is also attending the Shaken, Not Stirred Gala with her husband for the first time this year. "At the beginning of every year I talk about being more involved with GOCA and I am so excited to be more involved this year", said Sara with a big smile, "I am so excited about going to the gala!"

"I went to the OB/GYN for my annual exam and she felt a cyst, she explained that during women's cycle there is a tendency to get cysts and that I should wait another month to see if it would be still there."  Sara's doctor examined her a month later and it was indeed still there.  Acting quickly the doctor ordered an ultrasound and suggested having it removed.  Five days after her surgery the hospital called to tell her that she had ovarian cancer. "I was so lucking that my OB/GYN kept looking into my cyst and removed it," said Sara. "I was so lucky that they caught it very early."  After eighteen weeks of treatments Sara inquired about her diagnosis and it was stage 1.  "This early a diagnosis is very rare and I wasn't showing any symptoms."

"I was very private with my diagnosis and I surrounded myself with a close group of family and friends, each person decides what is best for them - no one can walk in your shoes."  Sara told me that she is trying to eat healthy and go to the gym or walk the dogs more regularly and that while some days are better than others she tries to keep a positive attitude all the time.

The Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance was founded in 1998 by a group of thirteen ovarian cancer survivors to educate Georgia's women, families, and healthcare providers about the risks, symptoms and treatments of ovarian cancer.  The Shaken, Not Stirred Gala, GOCA's annual fundraiser is coming up on March 14th at Georgia Aquarium and features a culinary offering from the member chefs of the Atlanta Chapter of the Les Dames d'Escoffier International.  The evening's celebration highlights the work of GOCA, salutes our survivors and their caregivers, and raises critical funds in support of GOCA's outreach programs.

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