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What does it take? To get through a killer cancer (ovarian)

& be a twenty-year survivor/thriver

By Dorothy Elanger

Dorothy Erlanger today inspires others to take personal charge of their wellness and their life decisions. She is an ovarian cancer survivor, considered a life-ender. But surviving wasn’t enough. Dorothy decided to become an athlete after 50 and has completed an Ironman Triathlon — a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and a 26.2-mile marathon.

Her message is profound and simple: Obstacles Become Your Path to Greatness.

Here she shares her 10 keys to fight through cancer.

10 keys to Go Through a Killer Cancer (Ovarian):

  1. Paying attention to your own body. I began having odd symptoms that I chalked up to probably early menopause – but decided to take action to get it checked out.
  1. Hanging in there for the long slog – I was in chemo for months on end. After a while it becomes a draining and seemingly everlasting condition. You just keep moving ahead, a day at a time.

And when treatment is done, and you think you should be elated and happy – and find that you’re totally depressed to the point that you can barely get out of bed. Why? Well. you’re no longer doing anything about it, no longer tracking counts, scheduling appointments, looking at progress. Suddenly it’s a void, except for the ever-present dread of recurrence. It’s crucial to find SOMETHING that engages you, brings you back, involves you.

Starting Her Triathlon Journey

For me, that ‘something was starting training for a mini-triathlon. When I saw the notice of the special group for the ’50s plus crowd, I looked at it as almost a last chance to pull myself back into the world. I couldn’t walk a mile, hadn’t been in a pool or on a bike in years. But with the group all starting from ‘zero’, decided to try it. I did the event and loved it! Even more than the event, the community and total support were truly amazing.

Advanced ovarian cancer (3 c) has a dismal survival rate for even five years, much less for 20.  So, what do you do with ‘beating the odds? You pay it forward! I took part in a tracking study at NCI, became a research patient advocate, speak to medical students about the signs, symptoms, and the experience (there is still no diagnostic; they need to know what to be alert to), speak for women’s groups on what they should be aware of.

Now, as a 20-year ovarian survivor/thriver, it’s time to up that game. I am committed to a 20/20 effort, starting from the date I was diagnosed, August 29th. Commitment: raise $20,000 over 20 weeks and at the same time commit to doing 20 kilometers per week of bike/walk/run/swim, reporting back to you, my larger ‘team’ as I go.

To beat this beast, we must get earlier identification of high-risk individuals (genetic screening) and continue to work toward that ephemeral true diagnostic. Every dollar raised will be dedicated to these goals.

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