From OHC, Specialists in the Treatment of Adult Cancers and Blood Disorders

September 30, 2021

Ovarian cancer awareness remains on the forefront of the minds of OHC’s cancer specialists. Ovarian cancer is most often diagnosed in its late stages as its presenting symptoms are typically subtle and sometimes mistaken for more common conditions.

At age 49, Tricia McAlpine considered herself to be quite healthy. She was physically active and living a holistic lifestyle. She had never suffered with illness and enjoyed a vegan and organic diet, often reaping the benefits of living on her family’s farm in Vevay, IN where they grew their own produce and raised honeybees. When she began to suffer with bloating, gastrointestinal discomfort, and urinary frequency in June of 2020 cancer wasn’t a thought. “It wasn’t until I noticed a large mass on my right side that I knew I had to get checked out,” said Tricia.

Tricia scheduled an appointment with her healthcare provider who mentioned a possible cancer diagnosis. Tricia immediately contacted a close friend and colon cancer patient who had been receiving treatment from OHC medical oncologist and hematologist Kurt P. Leuenberger, MD. After a phone call, it wasn’t long before Tricia had an appointment with Dr. Leuenberger. “Dr. Leuenberger saw me so quickly and he worked with my insurance to make sure the visit was covered,” said Tricia. “He quickly ordered a CT scan and called me the same day with the results.”

“The scans revealed that Tricia had a substantial mass on her right ovary,” said Dr. Leuenberger. “I referred her to my colleague and gynecologic oncology expert, Dr. Dené Wrenn.”

“I knew I was in the right place the first time I met Dr. Wrenn,” said Tricia. “She listened to me, accommodated my holistic lifestyle, and offered guidance based on the care plan that we discussed together.”

In July, Dené C. Wrenn, MD, MS, performed surgery on Tricia to remove the five-pound mass on her ovary. “The mass was pressing on her bladder and colon,” said Dr. Wrenn. “During the procedure, I discovered that Tricia had endometriosis that had wrapped around her appendix. I removed her appendix along with some affected lymph nodes.” Testing on the mass revealed that Tricia had high-grade ovarian cancer, potentially the most malignant form of ovarian cancer. Specifically, Tricia had clear cell carcinoma of the ovary, which is often associated with endometriosis.

“When I woke up after surgery, Dr. Wrenn told me I had cancer and she believed she had gotten all of it out,” said Tricia. “I accepted it and wasn’t upset. My faith in God brought me comfort.”

Although Tricia still experiences some sensitivity in her abdomen, she’s recovered well from her surgery. She credits her faith and the tremendous support of her family and Dr. Wrenn with getting her through her journey. “From the beginning, Dr. Wrenn has been amazing,” said Tricia. “She recommended adding protein to my diet to build up my strength prior to surgery and reviewed each and every one of the supplements I take to offer guidance on those that would affect my hormone levels. For my follow-up visits, she orders scans and bloodwork in the morning and gives me my results the same day. I do get anxious when I know the scans are coming up, but I don’t overthink things. I won’t let it steal my joy.”

Dr. Wrenn and her OHC colleagues urge women experiencing ovarian cancer symptoms (bloating, abdominal pain, feeling full quickly, urination issues) for two weeks to discuss them with their healthcare providers. To learn more about ovarian cancer and the multidisciplinary approach to cancer care offered by OHC, call 1-888-649-4800 or visit ohcare.com. To watch OHC’s most recent Cancer Conversations With OHC Facebook Live session with Dr. Wrenn and young ovarian cancer survivor, Taylor Harris, follow this link: https://fb.watch/8lCTSi86zM/.

Top picture: OHC ovarian cancer survivor Tricia McAlpine with her husband, Kable

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