In December of 2009, Terri Lightfoot was told that she had a fibroid on her ovary. It was not until after the scheduled surgery in November 2010 that Lightfoot was told that it had not been a fibroid at all, but a tumour. She had stage one ovarian cancer.
“It all happened so fast,” said Lightfoot, now fully-recovered and working as the manager of deposit services at the Kootenay Savings Credit Union in Invermere.
Lightfoot said she was lucky to be in Calgary for what was supposed to have been her fibroid surgery, as she was able to have her cancer surgery shortly after. “I had a great surgeon, she was wonderful,” said Lightfoot. Following her surgery on December 15, her biopsies came back, all negative, on December 24.
“To have two surgeries within five weeks was pretty tough, but I’m good,” said Lightfoot.
Lightfoot explained that her aunt had been diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer before she had been diagnosed. She passed away in February of this year.
“When my aunt was diagnosed my mom urged me to get this test done,” said Lightfoot. “I live a healthy lifestyle, I’m active, I’m 42…I would have never thought that that was the cancer I had.”
Between two ultra-sounds and three doctors, the possibility of ovarian cancer had not come up. Lightfoot says it was not at all the fault of the doctors, whom she said were wonderful, but because the signs were so discreet.
“I don’t think it was anyone’s mistake in missing it,” said Lightfoot. “There’s a blood test you can do, but so many other things can make it positive, like your appendix, so it wasn’t recommended.”
Lightfoot went to the East Kootenay Regional District Hospital in Cranbrook, where she was referred to Calgary, and later to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. The 10cm tumour was removed, as ovarian cancer can flake and spread and affect other areas. Since then, Lightfoot has made a full recovery.
“It’s a sneaky one, there are really no major signs or symptoms,” said Lightfoot. “People really need to look for the signs. People know what to look for when it comes to breast cancer, but this one is sneaky. I’d like to see a lot more people know and ask questions. It’s better to have these questions answered than to not know. Not a lot of cases are diagnosed until stage three or four.”
According to the Canadian Cancer Society’s official website, most often symptoms of ovarian cancer can be associated by other, less-serious health problems, and that testing is needed to make a proper diagnosis.
Lightfoot, who also organizes the Terry Fox Run every year, says that this year’s Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life holds more special significance than it had before, and is ecstatic about Kootenay Savings’ involvement with the event.
“Kootenay Savings is a wonderful support to all these events,” said Lightfoot. “It’s amazing to me that not just this branch, but the whole organization, is so involved. I could not ask to be working at a better place.”
Lightfoot says that during her recovery, Kootenay Savings and her family had been wholly supportive of her.
“It helped me by making me feel better, knowing that my job was here, and I could come back to it when I was ready, even for parttime for a bit,” said Lightfoot. “I could not say enough good things about Kootenay Savings.
“My sister and my husband were both amazing, knowing that he had it all under control made it easier to focus on healing. It is so important to have your spouse there for you and he was 110 per cent.”
For more information about ovarian cancer, its symptoms and prevention, please visit www.cancer.ca and learn the signs of this dangerous cancer.