Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
May 2015 Veteran Spotlight
My name is Victoria Duncan, and I am a Navy Veteran, a wife, a mother and Ovarian Cancer survivor. I served on active duty from Feb. 1992 until Feb. 1996, and continued with the Navy Reserves from Aug. 1996 until Oct. 2006. This article is about my successful fight against cancer.
I joined the Navy because I grew up in a small town and wanted to travel and see the world. That didn’t happen. I did get to see Alaska, Canada and California. I am married to a wonderful and very supportive husband, Chris. We have two boys from a previous marriage. My boys are both Air Force bound. I am so very proud of both of them.
In April 2011, I was diagnosed with fibroids in my uterus. In May that same year, things took a turn for the worse. I was having really bad periods and felt sick. I was unable to keep food down and was in a lot of pain. The Temple, Tex. VAMC referred me to an external hospital, because I needed emergency surgery to remove a tumor on my right ovary. The morning after surgery, the doctor let me know that the tumor on my right ovary was larger than a football! It was diagnosed as a stage-1 ovarian cancer. I went through six rounds of chemotherapy. That is a nightmare no one should ever have to go through.
One piece of advice I would like to pass on to other women Veterans is this. You, as a woman, know your body better than anyone else. Don’t take no for an answer. If you feel like there is something wrong, make sure your doctor is hearing you. There are no warning signs for ovarian cancer. It can happen to anyone at any time. I was super blessed to have found it at stage-1. Most women are not that lucky. Please, just like with mammograms, take a buddy with you when you go for a cervical cancer screening. Your bigger fear should be not knowing if you have cancer rather than knowing you do. The sooner you know, the better chance you have. You can also ask your doctor to do a CA125 blood test.
I know having mammograms and cervical cancer screenings are no fun, but they can and will save your life. You are so important to so many people. If you won’t do it for yourself, then do it for your partner, kids, sister, brother, mother, father, best friend and others who would miss you. If you have any questions about these screenings or you would like to schedule a screening, contact your VA Primary Care Provider.