When Janet Zienkiewicz heard her diagnosis – Stage 4 ovarian cancer – she didn’t know what it would mean for her body, but she knew what it would require of her mind.
“This diagnosis is as much a mental battle as a physical one,” she said, and “staying positive has served me well.”
Thanks to her determination and to the incredible care she receives at Lipson Cancer Institute, Janet’s health is continuing to improve even though, at times, her options seemed exhausted.
Her symptoms started about four years ago. Janet always had a sensitive digestive system, but she started to notice that feeling bloated and full was becoming more and more common. She was also losing weight, but she thought it was due to a thyroid issue. Finally, she made an appointment to see her gastroenterologist.
“Within 20 minutes he had me scheduled for an ultrasound,” Janet said. “Then, as I’m driving home, he called and told me to head to Unity for a CAT scan. He explained that it wasn’t air in my abdomen, but fluid build-up, and he suspected it might be ovarian cancer.”
She was stunned with the news she received. “It was such a shock. There’s cancer in my family, but I never expected to hear a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.”
Janet quickly began an intensive course of treatment to fight the disease and to stop it from spreading through her body. From chemo and radiation to surgery, the efforts were futile. Even after a hysterectomy and colostomy the cancer was still growing.
Then, just days after her last chemo treatment, she got a call about a clinical trial that her doctors recommended. “A window in my world closed after that last chemo treatment in June, but it opened again the next Wednesday.”
And that has made all the difference.
“I just have so much respect and gratitude for Lipson,” she said. “The entire staff is absolutely wonderful, and they made this whole experience easier.”
Her doctors continue to monitor her response to treatment, but Janet is as busy as ever.
“I’ve been able to live a really normal life throughout my treatment,” she said. “I like to stay active and see people, so I make sure to keep my calendar full with social engagements. I try to do something fun every day.”
For Janet, now 67, that means she golfs, goes fishing and boating, knits, reads, and makes travel plans because she has hope for the future. She just renewed her passport, and she and her husband of 42 years are going on a 13-day tour of Alaska by land and sea in July of 2020. It will be her first cruise. “We have some great trips on our list, but Alaska is number one.”