Stories of Hope

13-year-old ovarian cancer survivor raises awareness at West Windsor-Plainsboro HS

Holly Bowen’s Story

When my mom, Holly, learned she had ovarian cancer in early 2010 it was a big surprise to her, especially since she didn’t feel sick and she didn't have any unusual symptoms. The diagnosis was a shock, as it is to many people.

At first, my mom did not know how to handle the news. She says in order to come to grips with the challenges she would face it was helpful for her to think how she would advise a loved one or friend who’s thinking is blocked by the word "Cancer."

Holly is in her fifth year of treatment. She's not cancer free and only occasionally in remission. She's a stage 3B, but she feels well and is happy to be around to enjoy all of the many things we do together as a family, and she especially likes to see our family grow.

My mom says she considers herself very fortunate for many reasons. When it comes to treatment, she was happy to find a talented doctor who treats these diseases aggressively and a hospital that focuses on cancer treatments.

In my mom's case, her cancer had spread from her ovaries to other parts of her body, including her colon. Her doctors performed surgery to remove what they could, but they also needed to prescribe different courses of medicines to attack the cancer inside her body that surgery couldn't reach. Some of those medicines were tougher for her body to handle than others, but in her case the treatments were effective, which makes the side effects easier to accept.

She just recently finished a round of chemotherapy with a medicine that caused her to lose her hair, but now that her treatments are over for the time being, her hair is beginning to bounce back and is coming in nicely.

Everyone has a way of battling with and handling emotional trauma. There is so much advice for coping and help available, if you know what works best for you then you have a place to start. There's often someone we already know who is sharing a similar battle. My mom frequently chats with some of her childhood friends about their own health challenges.

People always tell my mom that she is a “happy-go-lucky" person and she says that she believe that now, because she is "still lucky, still happy and still going!"

My mom wishes everyone good luck in their treatments.