Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
How knowledgeable are you about ovarian cancer? On a scale of 1 to 10, if you’re at least half knowledgeable, good for you! If not, then you need to read this. Nikki Hasty is an ovarian cancer advocate from Milledgeville, Georgia who discovered she had the disease as a bi-product of fertility testing. She is now working hard to bring awareness and working toward creating a test and finding a cure. I sat down with her for last week’s CGE Q&A Wednesday to discuss her diagnosis, where she is now, and her plans for the future. Here are some of the things I discovered.
Nikki discovered she had ovarian cancer by accident. It wasn’t even something that had occurred to her. She and her husband Tim were going through the fertility testing process because they were trying to have a baby. In 2016, after stopping the fertility process for three years, they wanted to try again. This is when her doctor discovered what she thought was just a cyst on her ovaries during a sonogram. The doctor decided that they would just remove it during a surgery she was scheduled to have that would clean up any endometriosis, cysts, clear the fallopian tubes, etc. Once the surgery was had and everything was removed however, the results came back that what the doctor had found was not a cyst, but a cancerous tumor on her ovaries.
This is one of the reasons why part of Nikki’s mission is to work toward creating a test for ovarian cancer because there’s currently no test that can be done to detect ovarian cancer like there are for other vaginal cancers. Unfortunately, surgery is the only thing that can determine you have ovarian cancer.
Working Through The Diagnosis
Nikki says first things first, they didn’t treat it like it was a death sentence and they certainly weren’t told it was one. Her doctor sent Nikki and her husband to another physician she knew in Atlanta. The goal at that point was to preserve fertility. She and her husband were told they caught the cancer early and that the prognosis was great. “The plan was for me to have my ovary and fallopian tube taken out, go home and have a baby and then come back and they would remove everything else,” she said.
After the first meeting with Dr. Matthews in Atlanta, Nikki had to get another CT Scan and that scan showed another mass on the other ovary. So the plan became to remove that mass as well. This is when we really dove deep into our faith and we created a prayer group called, Hasty Hope to keep people informed and pray for us because we never lost sight of our goal, which was to have children together. The plan was that if everything was fine, they were going to leave that ovary and fallopian tube and they were going to go home and have a baby. “My husband and I decided to have a code word once I woke up from surgery. If everything was fine, the code word in recovery would be, ‘The playground is open’”, Nikki says. And that’s what she heard in recovery. A couple of weeks later, however, she found out that that tumor was cancerous as well. After this, she had to plan the surgery to remove everything so that there was very little chance of this coming up anywhere else. Her final surgery was on September 12th, 2016. Today she’s cancer-free. “I’m what the medical field calls ’N.E.D.’, which stands for ‘No Evidence of Disease’. So looking at my body it doesn’t look like I’ve ever had cancer.”
What’s going on with Nikki today:
Today, Nikki is cancer-free and a Pure Romance sexual health and wellness educator. Pure Romance is a company that sells bath, beauty and bedroom products for women. Although 80% of the company’s profits come from the bath and beauty products, Nikki’s focus is on the bedroom products and she focuses specifically on women’s sexual health and wellness. It is a way to tie her business into her passion for educating women about ovarian cancer.
Turn The Towns Teal!
Nikki is part of a private Christian ovarian cancer group on Facebook that spear-headed off of a larger group. This one is just Christian women and she goes back to that group for lots of support and encouragement. One day, she asked the group what she could do because she wanted to do something more than what she was doing but she didn’t know where to get started. This is when she discovered the organization “Turn the Towns Teal.” “It’s where you get the town’s permission to promote ovarian cancer awareness for the month of September. It’s all across the United States to include Puerto Rico but I didn’t see any towns represented in Georgia when I looked at their website.” The good thing is however, their website made it easy for Nikki to get involved so she started there, got the information she needed, had a meeting with the mayor and from that it turned into a proclamation that from now on, September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month for Milledgeville, GA. The proclamation puts it out there for churches, businesses, different organizations, etc., to support ovarian cancer awareness.
Nikki’s goal is to make this even bigger in their town but she’s taking baby steps. Right now she’s working with a current ovarian cancer fighter. “She’s stage 4 and there’s a benefit fundraiser for her this Saturday that I’m participating in to support her and her fight.” Ovarian cancer is the deadliest cancer of all gynecological cancers because of its late diagnosis. Nikki would love for it to become as known about as breast cancer.
How to get involved?
Nikki suggests that if someone wants to get involved, the first step they need to take is to determine what level of involvement they’d like to have. If you’d like to blow it up in your town, she can tell you how to turn your town teal. If you want to partner with her and spread awareness, she can give you all the information she has and you can share it through social media, etc. If you would like to pass out symptom cards, she has those. There are lots of organizations that have symptom cards they can mail to you as well. All you have to do is ask. It all depends on your desired level of involvement.
Where you can find and support Nikki:
You can find Nikki on Facebook at Pure Romance by Nikki H. If you are a female 18 and over, she has a private Facebook group where she posts even more detailed information about Pure Romance in that private group. You can also email her at PRNikkiHasty@gmail.com.