Dr. Nadia Chaudhri wants to inform other women about the symptoms of ovarian cancer and what signs to look out for.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 23, 2021. It has since been updated.
Dr. Nadia Chaudhri has been battling Stage 3 ovarian cancer for the past year and has known for a while that her illness is terminal. The 44-year-old neuroscientist and professor from Montreal, Canada, is at the hospital and has undergone a hysterectomy and several rounds of chemotherapy. Dr. Chaudhri, who's a Mom to a 6-year-old boy, is coming to terms with the reality that she will "not be coming home from this hospital visit." Dr. Chaudhri is now sending a powerful message to women, hoping to educate and inform them about ovarian cancer, reported Good Morning America.
Now that I have 100K followers, I want to talk about #OvarianCancer. Specifically my gritty story. The goal is awareness. I hope you find this narrative informative.— Dr. Nadia Chaudhri (@DrNadiaChaudhri) September 13, 2021
"Know your body"
Dr. Nadia Chaudhri gained thousands of followers after she opened up in May about telling her son that she was dying. With over 100k following her journey, Dr. Chaudhri decided to use her platform to raise awareness on Ovarian cancer and fill them in on her 'gritty' battle. "Know your bodies," Chaudhri tells women. "Pay attention to fatigue and changes in bowel/urinary tract movements. Make sure you understand all the words on a medical report. Do not dismiss your pain or malaise. Find the expert doctors."
"Ovarian cancer comes in many forms and treatments are more advanced for some forms than others, but the bottom line is that ovarian cancer research is underfunded," she wrote. "We also need more awareness of symptoms because early detection improves prognosis dramatically." It all started in January 2020 when she felt unwell and experienced fatigue, abdominal pain, lower back pain, and a mild increase in frequency to urinate. She was wrongly diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and given antibiotics. Her symptoms of fatigue and abdominal pain didn't subside and she attributes her tiredness to the pandemic but it never went away. Around May, she underwent a second ultrasound and showed the results to her uncle, a gynecologist, who suggested she take a blood test to check for cancer markers. The results showed 925 when the normal level was 0-35.
"Two weeks later I had a laparotomy. They cut me open from sternum to pubic bone. Indeed, I had cancer," she wrote. She explained the treatment she underwent including multiple rounds of chemotherapy and several attempts at clinical trials. When ovarian cancer returns, it's usually considered a terminal diagnosis and that's what happened to Dr. Chaudhuri. She did something no mother should ever have to do — say a potential goodbye to their child. "My husband and I made the decision that we needed to tell our son what is going on because all the treatments are failing me," said Chaudhri. "He already knew that I had cancer. He knew that I was still taking chemotherapy medication and trying to get better, but I don’t think he had a sense of how bad it is." After she broke the news to him, Chaudhri wrote, "Our hearts broke. We cried a lot. And then the healing began. My son is brave. He is bright. He will be okay."
What's ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer originates in the ovaries, which make female hormones and produce eggs, or in the nearby areas of the fallopian tubes and the peritoneum, the tissue that lines your abdominal wall, according to the CDC. Ovarian cancer causes more deaths each year than any other gynecologic cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that a woman's chance of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78. Ovarian can affect women of all ages but it's more common in women ages 63 and older and more common in white women than Black women.
The early signs of Ovarian cancer are abdominal pain or pelvic pain, bloating and an increase in urination says Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent. She adds that it's important to hold an open and continuing dialogue with your doctor, especially if the symptoms persist.
Ovarian cancer is treated using a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, says the CDC. While there is no hard-proof way to prevent ovarian cancer, using birth control for five or more years, having given birth, breastfeeding, having had a hysterectomy, having had your ovaries removed, and having had a tubal litigation can reduce one's chances of getting ovarian cancer, according to the CDC.
I am flooding my Sun with presents. Anything that will remind him of Mama. Today as he left the hospital he said ‘see you tomorrow, although you might also be dead.’ That hurt until I realized he knew I wasn’t coming home from this hospital visit. pic.twitter.com/jP4QKTN1vV— Dr. Nadia Chaudhri (@DrNadiaChaudhri) September 16, 2021
I am not afraid.— Dr. Nadia Chaudhri (@DrNadiaChaudhri) September 13, 2021