From Ashley Young, an OHC Cancer Patient and Survivor

December 19, 2019

My cancer journey began with my OB/Gyn for my annual check-up and pap test. This time the follow-up phone call was different. It was my doctor’s office calling about the results. There were some abnormal cells, so they wanted to schedule a colposcopy to look more closely for signs of disease.

Three days later, they called and asked me to come in to discuss my results. He said, “We found cancer.” Three words you’re never prepared to hear. “We found cancer.” My world stopped.

My doctor said I had Stage 1A1 cervical cancer and referred me to Dr. Ajit Gubbi, a gynecologic oncologist with OHC. Dr. Gubbi went over all my options in detail. I listened. He listened. I asked questions. He answered all my questions. Finally, I chose to have a radical hysterectomy without removing my ovaries.

During surgery, Dr. Gubbi had to remove my appendix because it was attached to my uterus, which was being removed as part of the hysterectomy. At my follow-up appointment, Dr. Gubbi said they found a tumor on my appendix and it was cancer, Stage 3. He also said one of my lymph nodes came back positive for cancer.

I was shocked. But in the back of my head I had a good feeling because of all the doctor appointments were back-to-back. I washed my face and went back to work. For me it was best to keep busy, I didn’t have time to be sad because I was preparing for one hell of a fight.

I was referred to Dr. Joe Shaughnessy, a radiation oncologist at OHC to help me with my radiation therapy. Dr. Mark Johns, a medical oncologist with OHC, would be the team member leading the treatment for my appendix cancer. I’m glad I chose OHC because they had all the cancer specialists – gynecologic, radiation and medical – that I needed in one group. I felt surrounded by experts who also genuinely cared for me and my family.

I ended up having one more surgery: Dr. Gubbi moved my ovaries up so they would be protected from radiation. Something only an expert would think of, right? Six weeks after that surgery, I started chemo and radiation. Six rounds of chemo and 25 radiation treatments.

Through it all, I had good days and bad days, but you just have to take it one day at a time and stay positive. Let people help and support you. The doctors are amazing. They answered every question my family and I had. They helped me pick the best treatment plan. The OHC staffs were great, always positive and always greeted me with a smile every day. My family, friends and co-workers were also extremely supportive. My husband and family helped me throughout this whole journey. My friends and co-workers were ready to help if I needed anything. My employer let me work from home during treatment, which I am still very grateful for.

One lasting effect on me is that I tell everyone, “Early detection is everything!” I’m so glad and lucky that every year I have my GYN checkup and pap test. That test probably saved my life. It could save yours, too. Ladies: NEVER SKIP A PAP TEST!

Pictured are OHC’s Kim Roach, MA; Mark Johns, MD; OHC patient Ashley Young; Ajit Gubbi, DO; and OHC’s Jayne Fite, RN.

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