Diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer at Age 30: Morgan Gaynor's Journey & Advocacy
On this episode of WE Have Cancer, awareness advocate and ovarian cancer survivor Morgan Gaynor chats with Lee about cancer research, advocacy, and sharing her cancer journey online in a very public way.
After completing her MBA at Monmouth University at age 30, Morgan decided to look into freezing her eggs. That decision would ultimately lead to her ovarian cancer diagnosis and save her life. Immediately after her diagnosis with low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma, she began sharing her story online on her website, Morgan Beats Cancer. Now a year and a half after her last chemo session, she currently serves on the board of STAAR Ovarian Cancer Foundation, and advocates on the federal, state, and local levels on behalf of ovarian cancer patients for increased research funding.
Table of Contents:
- The Story Behind "Morgan Beats Cancer"
Morgan says naming her site was a big decision and conversation with family. It’s not just about beating cancer herself; Morgan says her goal is to beat ovarian cancer for everyone.
- Sharing Her Cancer Journey with the World
At the time of her diagnosis, Morgan was four months out from her MBA graduation where she studied Communications. Her whole life Morgan has been an eager philanthropist and volunteer, and now she’s taking all of her skills and passions into the cancer world via her website and advocacy work.
- Diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer Pre-Menopause
She first posted on Facebook about her ovarian cancer diagnosis, and how it wasn’t common for a woman in her early thirties to be diagnosed with it. She wanted to raise awareness that cancer can happen at any age. Morgan says, “If you’re born with ovaries, you’re at risk for ovarian cancer.”
- From Freezing Eggs to Finding Ovarian Cancer
After watching friends struggle with fertility in their twenties and thirties, Morgan decided she wanted to have her eggs frozen at age 30. At Morgan’s first ultrasound with the fertility specialist, they noticed several large lumps in Morgan’s pelvic area. A few weeks later, a surgeon confirmed the lumps were malignant, and she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.
- Treatment Options for Ovarian Cancer
Morgan says surgery was definitely the recommended immediate course of action for her. She had a debulking surgery first to remove all visible signs of disease, and then went through six rounds of chemotherapy afterward.
- Life After Cancer Treatment
Morgan’s final chemo session was in February 2020. She now takes a daily estrogen blocker because her particular strain of cancer was hormone-driven. She says she feels great.
- “My whole life is different now.”
Between cancer and the pandemic, Morgan says she’s home much more than she used to be. She still spends time volunteering in her community, and she’s doing a lot with the ovarian cancer community as well. She joined the board of STAAR Ovarian Cancer Foundation, and is an advocacy leader with OCRA (Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance).
- Getting Involved with Cancer Research Advocacy
Morgan says getting to speak with her state representatives and telling people how important cancer research is has been both enlightening and fulfilling. She reminds listeners that the only way to conquer these diseases is through research, which requires funding, which largely comes from the government.
- Being Immunocompromised in 2021
Morgan’s treatment has left her permanently immunocompromised. She says that before the pandemic, getting onto a subway during cold and flu season would be terrifying for someone like her. But now, wearing a mask in public is no big deal.
- Grappling with Confidence after Cancer Treatment
Morgan says she’s found immense support with other women in the community, particularly from a local organization in New Jersey called Mary’s Place by the Sea, where they’re each encouraged to write letters to themselves about gratitude, acceptance, and love for their healing bodies.
- Morgan's Longterm Cancer Advocacy Vision
Morgan says she plans to continue to use her website to advocate for people facing cancer, especially ovarian cancer. She hopes to also provide advice and tips for supporting people with cancer, because she knows how difficult it can be.
Links mentioned in the show:
Follow Morgan's Advocacy - Morgan Beats Cancer
Support the Child of the Month; Kaden - https://wehavecancershow.com/kaden
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