During ovarian cancer treatment, patient learns to cope with stress

As Barb White has learned, life’s other challenges don’t stop when you’re diagnosed with cancer. In February 2014, Barb — then age 50 — underwent a hysterectomy to remove a large, suspicious cyst on her uterus. A blood test had already prepared her for a strong likelihood of cancer, but it wasn’t until the surgery that Nicole Fleming, M.D., was able to make a formal diagnosis: stage IIB ovarian cancer. “If I hadn’t had the cyst, I wouldn’t have ever found out that I had anything,” Barb says. Barb’s ovarian cancer treatment Because Barb’s cancer had spread to her uterus, she needed to undergo chemotherapy. Three weeks after her surgery, the Lake Jackson, Texas, resident went to MD Anderson in Sugar Land to begin the next phase of her treatment. “When the first chemotherapy went in, my chest was burning uncontrollably, and I passed out,” she says. “I was just totally allergic to this chemotherapy.” Barb’s care team immediately stabilized her, but her allergic reaction meant she couldn’t enroll in a beta-blockers clinical trial in which she’d hoped to participate. While she continued her Taxol-based chemo regimen, she had to schedule each of her six rounds of chemotherapy three weeks apart. Still, the chemotherapy took its toll on Barb, both physically and emotionally. “By the end of March, I was losing my hair,” she recalls. “I grew up believing that the way I looked on the outside impacted how people perceived me, so having no hair was just totally humiliating to me.” Dealing with ovarian cancer, stress and life’s challenges During the second round of chemotherapy, Barb underwent genetic...