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Karen Applegate: Treatment for Ovarian Cancer Through a Clinical Trial

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"I work in the fitness industry and was encouraged to continue exercise as long as I was comfortable doing so. Through a good part of my treatment, I was able to keep up with a maintenance fitness program. Fitness helped me be happier. "

— Karen Applegate

I felt sick and thought that I had stomach problems, so I spoke to a gastroenterologist. He ordered an ultrasound, and after reading the results he recommended that I go to Fox Chase. I was fortunate to get an appointment at Fox Chase the following week. The surgical oncologist ordered an MRI right away. He said I needed surgery. After surgery, when I woke up, I was told I had aggressive Stage 3 ovarian cancer.

My doctor told me of a clinical trial that I was a candidate for. I agreed to the trial as it seemed to be a good option. The protocol would be determined on a random basis. There were three different variations. My treatment included IV chemotherapy, along with chemotherapy infused into my stomach.

Antitumor Medication

After that, I had another medication for six more months, which was bevacizumab, which is also known as Avastin, an antitumor medication. I was able to get through it without much trouble; the side effects were handled with other medications.

My diagnosis was just before my 52nd birthday in November of 2010. I had surgery right away, then began chemo treatment after the new year and was able to go back to work in June.

Fitness Encouraged

I work in the fitness industry and was encouraged to continue exercise as long as I was comfortable doing so. Through a good part of my treatment, I was able to keep up with a maintenance fitness program. Fitness helped me be happier. My surgical oncologist commented that I didn’t seem as sick as I was and that I was doing well with chemo.

I was told that some people had white blood cell count changes during chemo, which would determine whether they would have to take time off from treatment. I went straight through and was able to do so relatively well. I also had significant support from my family and friends. Everyone was so nice, which was very helpful.

For several years, I had follow-up appointments, which included body scans, tests, and bloodwork. I am fortunate enough to still have a cancer-free diagnosis every time.

Welcomed at Fox Chase

Cancer is scary. I applaud people who have survived, are comfortable talking about cancer, and act as an advocate for people who are going through treatment and need advice or support. I still wonder how they do it.

I live without cancer now and I don’t always think about having been sick. It has been a lot of time now, and I’m very thankful to be well.  I really think if I were ever to go through this again, I would choose Fox Chase for treatment. I felt very comfortable there. My doctors were wonderful and the nurses were kind. I felt welcomed and cared for, with an individual interest in me. Looking back, I feel fortunate to have had a cancer experience that was the best it could have been with my care team at Fox Chase.

 

Click here for more information about clinical trials at Fox Chase.

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