Ovarian cancer survivor: Stay true to yourself

When Pam Scarpino was diagnosed with stage IIIC high-grade serous ovarian cancer in October 2007, her local oncologist told her she was really good at giving her patients five years to live. “That didn’t sit well with my gut,” she says. So Pam turned to the internet for advice. “MD Anderson kept coming up as one of the top places to go for ovarian cancer,” she says. But the single mother of two teenage daughters lived in Kansas City, Missouri, and she didn’t want to uproot her family. She decided to try treatment near home instead. Advice she’ll never forget During her first chemotherapy treatment, Pam went into anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction to Paclitaxel, which is often used to treat ovarian cancer. Afterwards, a nurse gave her advice she’ll never forget: “There’s no do-over with this, so you can’t worry about hurting anybody’s feelings or whether you should not go to MD Anderson. Just do it.” With a leap of blind faith, Pam decided to go to MD Anderson. Three weeks later, Pam was in Houston meeting Pedro Ramirez, M.D., and the rest of her MD Anderson care team for the first time. Their attitude – and the time that Dr. Ramirez took to talk about everything — struck a lasting impression. “You have your medical record number, but you absolutely weren’t a number to him,” she says. “And that was something that was personally important to me. I had to have a doctor who believes in me, is going to hear me and is working in my best interest.” Pam’s treatment for ovarian cancer at MD...