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Cammi MacKinlay

Cammi was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006 after experiencing symptoms for over a year. She had been feeling extremely bloated and had developed eczema all over her arms and legs. When Cammi felt a lump in her abdomen, she had the feeling something was very wrong. After having an ultrasound, her doctor could see what was causing her all of this discomfort – two large ovarian cysts. As it is impossible to tell whether one has ovarian cancer until surgery, Cammi underwent a hysterectomy with removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries and subsequently was diagnosed with stage 3B ovarian cancer. Although advanced ovarian cancer can be known as a lethal disease, the possibility of dying never crossed Cammi’s mind.

She followed up with Dr. Anna Tinker at the cancer agency, a member of the OVCARE team, and began chemotherapy. The most important message Cammi wants other women going through similar challenges is to “not to give up your normal life.” Cammi was back at her gym regularly only three weeks after surgery and walked every single day throughout treatment. Her ability to stay strong throughout her illness was in large part thanks to her husband, children, family and friends. “Having a strong network of people who support you in your journey is incredible,” she says. Cammi also sings with Sweet Adelines International, an acapella quartet. She felt blessed to have received endless cards, phone calls, and flowers of support from many of the women in the group. “It’s so important to keep positive energy around you,” she shares.

Since the day Cammi finished her final round of chemotherapy, she has never looked back. “I know I am the exception,” she says.

She raves about the amazing care she received at the BC Cancer Agency and VGH throughout her difficult journey. “This is not a job to them; it’s a passion,” Cammi says, speaking about both of her doctors, Jessica McAlpine and Anna Tinker. “They are beyond wonderful.” Cammi believes that more education around symptoms associated with ovarian cancer and prevention strategies is extremely important. She insists that when women experience any abnormal changes in their body, they should not just stand by and ignore them. As more women become educated on ovarian cancer, there is hope that a majority of women will make it through to share their stories of survival and be as fortunate as Cammi.

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Partners:

VGH/UBC Vancouver Coastal Health BC Cancer Foundation BC Cancer Agency UBC Faculty of Medicine