Norfolk County

Only 28 years old, Weymouth woman already beat ovarian cancer once

World Ovarian Cancer Day, which comes every May 8th, is not yet a time for celebration.

“Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers,” said Tracy Moore, an oncology-focused social worker with the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance.

Unfortunately, it also presents with vague symptoms — easily confused with other problems: bloating, cramping, and fatigue.

“Bloating is a symptom women have at different times of the month, for different reasons,” Moore said. “And ovarian cancer is so rare that it might not be high on the list for differential diagnosis.”

About 20,000 American women are diagnosed with the disease every year — that’s compared with more than 300,000 breast cancer diagnoses. The survival rates are similarly lopsided. After five years, 93 percent of those diagnosed with breast cancer remain alive. With ovarian cancer, the survival rate is about 50 percent.

The reason for the disparity is simple: mammograms and other examinations can diagnose breast cancer early. There is no diagnostic test, however, for ovarian cancer — which is why at least 75 percent of women who learn they have the disease are late-stage diagnoses.

Jenny O’Hear falls into that category. In December 2020, she developed symptoms that got her attention.

“I woke up with a bunch of pain and cramping,” she said. “I went to the gynecologist and they did a pelvic exam.”

The examination revealed that O’Hear’s IUD had displaced. However, the gynecologist also discovered through an ultrasound she had ovarian cysts.

“They were running through the list of what the cysts could be,” O’Hear said. “Could be cancer. But that was at the bottom of the list.”

Going in her favor on that score was O’Hear’s age. She was just 25. But three months later, exploratory surgery on the now-expanding cysts put cancer at the top of the list.

“I woke up ‘x’ amount of hours later and found out that it was cancer, and the surgeon had to do a complete, full, radical hysterectomy,” said O’Hear.”I remember even the next day the oncologist coming in to talk to me, and the surgeon. It was like, ‘Yeah, you will need chemo, you will lose your hair.’ It was very intense. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on anybody.”

O’Hear’s cancer was Stage 3C — meaning it had metastasized to nearby organs. But developing it at age 25? How to explain that?

“It’s a rare subtype of ovarian cancer called Low-Grade Serous Carcinoma,” O’Hear said. “It predominantly affects younger women.”

O’Hear underwent six rounds of chemotherapy: “That was pretty rough,” she said.

But it worked. O’Hear remained cancer-free — until this past March.

“They found what they couldn’t determine to be a lymph node or a nodule,” said O’Hear. A PET scan revealed that cancer cells were present. She underwent surgery a few weeks ago to remove numerous cancerous spots.

While there is no diagnostic test for ovarian cancer, Moore said there is a way to prevent some tumors — through genetic testing. If those tests reveal a risk of developing the disease, patients can elect to undergo surgery to remove the fallopian tubes, where 70% of ovarian cancer originates. It’s also possible to remove the ovaries. Of course, this comes at the expense of not being able to conceive.

Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance offers free genetic testing to women who qualify based on income. You can learn more at

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