Just two days before Yvette Love’s 46th birthday, she heard the six-letter word she never thought she would. “The nurse told me I had cancer,” Yvette recalls. “I was getting ready to spend the weekend in Gatlinburg,Tennessee with my husband when I began feeling pain in my lower right quadrant.” Yvette was also experiencing common symptoms such as lower back pain, bloating, acid reflux, frequent urination with some incontinence, and feeling out of shape. “All symptoms we, as women, often face and push to the side,” said Yvette. Since Yvette's husband was retired from the Army, it was a nurse practitioner on post who informed her about the large cancerous mass on her stomach.
“I was taken completely by surprise,” she said. “I went on my birthday trip and didn’t tell anyone about my diagnosis except my husband,” said Yvette. “We knew the family would have questions we wouldn't be able to answer until I had seen an oncologist and I didn’t want them to worry through that period of uncertainty”
After her weekend trip, Yvette went to see Dr. Jason Barnett, gynecologic oncologist at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital Midtown, for further evaluation. Based on the CT scan, they determined that she had late-stage IIIC ovarian cancer. Her cancer had spread into her lymph nodes and through her entire abdomen. The mass wrapped around her kidneys, both ovaries were encapsulated with large cysts, and she had fluid covering her organs. “I wasn't prepared for this diagnosis,” said Yvette. “After birthing three kids, I had my tubes tied and a hysterectomy. No one in my family ever had this diagnosis. We did genetic testing after my surgery to see if I was susceptible to it, and everything showed negative.”
On December 29th, 2021, Yvette underwent surgery. “Dr. Barnett told me he took out everything that could be safely removed and wasn’t necessary to sustain my life,” said Yvette. “This was a big surgery.” Just four weeks later, Yvette started chemo. She went every three weeks for six rounds. “The entire seven-month experience I had at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital Midtown was incredible,” said Yvette. “The nurses would come in and say, 'You are our life and motivation.’ The other patients and I would look at them and say, 'Are you kidding? You are our motivation! Thank you for being so positive through our whole experience.'”
After all of this, Yvette has been inspired to finish her nursing degree. She has started the paperwork to enroll in classes next year. “I had to pause my schooling because I was taking care of six kids while my husband deployed, and then I was diagnosed with cancer,” said Yvette. “Now, after experiencing this diagnosis and spending time with the infusion nurses at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital Midtown, I want to be a part of their team. I know how hard this can be, and so many people stepped up to help me. I just want to pay it forward. I want to tell patients I’ve been there, done that. Let me help you through this.”
Story by Caitlin Yusko