Recently declared NED (for those unfamiliar – No Evidence of Disease), Rachel Sackett Putman wants to remind those dealing with ovarian cancer that “self-care is NOT selfish!” She says success is all about your attitude. “I do what makes me feel better. I put in the work; I share my story.”
Rachel found herself not only facing the COVID pandemic along with the rest of the world, but her cancer was discovered as she was pursuing infertility answers. Her fertility specialist found her mass! However, before the ovarian cancer was detected in June 2020, Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer the month prior.
She’s since had five surgeries – some including laparoscopic removal of right ovary, right fallopian tube and appendix, bilateral mastectomy, removal of left ovary, uterus and cervix– and was able to avoid chemotherapy given the nature of her breast cancer and its aggressive treatment. She takes a little, yellow pill – Letrozole – daily and likely will for life. Rachel assured it was a well-informed decision, though she admits she found it odd chemo was not to be part of her treatment plan. “Chemo really is a reset.”
Looking back on her experience as she looks forward to her fortieth birthday, she admits, “I wanted a baby but I wanted to LIVE first.” Rachel gives credit to her care team. “They were really good at getting me the best possible care.” The pandemic turned into a bit of a blessing since so many women were postponing mammograms and other ob-gyn checks, she was able to get prompt appointments, even securing a date for reconstructive breast surgery in October 2020.
“Being where I am today took a lot of work. I got a second opinion for peace of mind. Do your therapies, take advantage of support, and take time to do things that make you happy,” she urges. Rachel explained her husband, Brandon, was a little late to the party, again, due the COVID restrictions, he was basically relegated to a glorified Uber driver! As the situation goes back to more normal, he’s able to partake of programs offered for family of cancer survivors.
She added she likes to smile and laugh, and it makes her feel good to make others feel good. As such, Rachel said she probably sent out 200-plus cards to friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances who reached out to wish her well.
And just talking about her cancer journey is a form of therapy for her. Rachel’s story was recently accepted as a case study for Survivors Teaching Students®, a program that allows medical/healthcare students to interact with and learn from ovarian cancer survivors in a classroom setting.
Rachel is eager to get on with her life. “I want to do … I want to make up for lost time and I want to make up for future time!” It really IS about attitude.