Carol F. Smallwood’s Story
In October 1998, Carol (51) was awakened in the middle of the night by bloated pressure and heaviness in her abdomen. She thought she had a urinary tract infection. Not wanting to alarm anyone, she drove herself to the emergency room expecting to receive a prescription for antibiotics. After eight hours of extensive tests, including blood work and a CT scan, Carol was told her tests results revealed ovarian cancer. Devastated, she went to see a gynecologic oncologist. She then underwent surgery and had five liters of fluid removed from her abdomen. The pathologist confirmed the diagnosis: Stage III ovarian cancer.
Carol and her family were shocked by the diagnosis—she had always taken charge of her health. She was careful about what she ate and exercised regularly. Her routine gynecological exam the April prior to her diagnosis revealed normal results.
For the next five years, she switched from one chemotherapy to another, never going into remission. She continued to fight the entire time, sometimes discouraged but always optimistic. She refused to let a bad day get her down. When she found out she was terminal, she was determined not to let any of the other patients receiving chemo know because she didn’t want to upset them. Carol died on October 7, 2004 at home surrounded by her family.
Carol was a breath of fresh air to all who knew her. She spent her life helping others and her family, in turn, wants to carry on her mission. She leaves three children, three grandchildren and a huge extended family who will continue her fight for the early detection of this deadly disease.