Wendy Bates' Story
My Mom’s first sign was bloating in her stomach. The seriousness of it was realized when we were on a family beach vacation and my sister-in-law noticed that her stomach was protruding on the right side like that of a pregnant woman’s stomach. The cyst was so large by the time she saw doctor and scheduled surgery that some doctors were convinced that it was a benign cyst (or else she would have had other severe symptoms or worse before the surgery). However, right after surgery, her doctor informed us that it was Ovarian Cancer (late stage). The size of my Mom’s ovarian cyst was compared to the diameter of a basketball. So, the journey and fight began in 2002.
Once she recovered from surgery, she went through many rounds of chemotherapy and was in remission for about one year. Then the cancer was back and had metastasized in her stomach and eventually blocked her intestines. She fought hard and didn’t want to give up on treatment; however, on July 9th, 2005 she lost her battle at 58 years young. My Mom would have been 70 years old on March 7th of this year.
My Mom was a wonderful, strong, giving, selfless person, faithful person. She raised 3 children as a single Mom and was a grateful and loving grandmother (her grandchildren ranging in age from 3 months old to 20 years old at the time). She was a young grandmother and I was a young Mom. My kids were 20 and 17 and I never imagined she’d miss their college graduations, high school graduation, weddings, and being a great-grandmother (which she would have been this July). My nieces were 3 months old and 3 years old and it broke my heart that they would miss the experience my kids had with their “Granny”. She also missed meeting her newest grandson who was born in 2015 and her first great-grandson who was born in July, 2016.
Shortly after losing my Mom, I did two things. First, I started talking more to my OB/GYN about awareness, prevention, and early detection for myself and my daughter. Second, I started researching ways to be involved in cancer awareness in our community. There were no “ovarian cancer” awareness organizations in the Baton Rouge area and I wasn’t quite brave enough to start one myself; however, Woman’s Hospital did have some volunteer opportunities for other cancers affecting women. I volunteered several years with the Woman’s Hospital – Women’s Victory Open golf tournament and also with Cancer Services of Baton Rouge. I stayed in touch with Robin Maggio (who was my Mom’s amazing social worker during her time spent at Woman’s Hospital over the course of 3 years and a mutual friend). She was my contact for many years and she immediately contacted me when Geaux Teal was being organized. Thank you Robin!
I am so grateful for Geaux Teal and the awareness it brings to our community regarding Ovarian Cancer and other gynecological cancers. I volunteer for Geaux Teal in memory of my Mom, Marsha Ann Walters LeBlanc and in honor of all of the patients, family members, and friends whose lives are affected by Ovarian Cancer.
Geaux Teal!! Wendy Walters Bates