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Just Sayin’

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A large mass on her ovary. Surgery for a partial hysterectomy. Prayers for a benign diagnosis. A text that brought me to my knees for one of the most authentic, beautiful friends I’ve ever known. Cancer. My dear, sweet, healthy friend, diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

To know Mandy Garavaglia is to love her. When I met her over ten years ago, I just knew she was someone special. I wanted her to be my friend. I’m a firm believer that every person we cross paths with in this life is placed with purpose. We’d soon see that as she supported me through my lengthy and painful walk through infertility. Neither of us suspected at the time that after my successful IVF treatments, our roles would reverse. I saw her through her own battle to have a child and her first cancer diagnosis. It was a tumor in her uterus, successfully removed and requiring no further treatment other than a recommended partial hysterectomy after she felt she had completed her family.

Her miracle baby girl, Stella, arrived. Subsequent tries for a sibling failed. It was time for surgery. A preliminary ultrasound showed a large mass on her ovary. Her doctor informed her that they would remove it as part of the scheduled partial hysterectomy and biopsy it during the procedure. If she woke up and was cut from her belly button down, it was not cancerous. If she was cut from her lower breast bone to pelvis, she’d know that the news was not good.

She woke up to the life-altering reality of her diagnosis, Stage 1C (basically Stage 2) ovarian cancer, an endometrioid tumor. Following recovery from her complete open abdominal hysterectomy, she underwent four rounds of chemotherapy (six was the original idea, but her body had other plans). She’ll continue to take medication for the next two to five years to block hormone receptors to help prevent tumors caused by estrogen.

A few weeks ago, Mandy received the beyond-excellent news that there is no evidence of disease in her body; there are no tumors and her bloodwork is normal! And she has a head of hair; she used a “cool cap” so that she wouldn’t lose it. That was important to her because she wanted to maintain as much normalcy in her appearance as she could for her daughter’s sake. 

I believe we should all use our story. I know Mandy subscribes to that theory, especially after what she’s been through. She wants to share so that other women can hopefully get early diagnosis and lives can be saved. Ovarian cancer is called “the silent killer” because the symptoms are so similar to monthly cycles and gastrointestinal issues. Currently, there is no early detection test for ovarian cancer. It’s a disease commonly associated with older women. Mandy is 35.

In hindsight, Mandy says she had every symptom: Bloating, abdominal swelling, back pain, feeling of satiety, bowel changes, urinary frequency and fatigue. If you have any of these symptoms and they’ve lasted more than two weeks, she’d recommend that you request a vaginal sonogram, pelvic exam and CA 125 tumor marker bloodwork.

Her biggest message? Listen to your body and don’t take no for an answer! Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed for discussing any menstrual abnormalities. Talk about it with your doctor! More than 22,000 women will be diagnosed this year and 70 percent of them will die. This is because when ovarian cancer is detected, it’s usually in the later stages. Early detection is key.

I am so grateful that my friend is better. As I mentioned, she’s all about sharing her story in hopes of helping others. If you’ve recently been diagnosed, know someone who has and/or want information on the “cool cap” she used, connect with her at

Written by: Jenny Matthews

Jenny Matthews is the host of Mix 93.3’s ‘Jenny Matthews Show’ 10am – 3pm, Monday – Friday. She is also the co-founder of She lives in the Northland with her husband, Matthew, and their two kiddos, Julianne and Miles. Connect with Jenny at!