INVERNESS, FL (WFLA) — Ovarian cancer is often called a “silent killer.” Because it has few symptoms, most women are diagnosed in the late stages, and the American Cancer Society says only 20 to 30 percent of these women will be alive five years after their diagnosis.
On this Thanksgiving, one Citrus County woman is thankful she is beating the odds. Dora Hunt, 69, has been a faithful Weather Watcher for News Channel 8 Today for 18 years, reporting the temperature from her home every morning. “I want to get Inverness on the map,” said Hunt.
Last year, after a long road trip with her husband, she started to gain weight. When changing her diet did not help, she knew something else must be wrong. “I felt like I was just really bloated,” she said.
For two months she went from doctor to doctor determined to find the cause of her issues. One put her on a gluten-free diet. One treated her for gas, and one just told her she was getting fat. Hunt’s persistence may be what ultimately saved her life.
Finally, a doctor drained the nearly 18 pounds of fluid from her belly. “They got six and a half liters. Think of a two liter bottle and how much six and a half liters of fluid is,” explained Hunt.
A test of that fluid provided Hunt with the dreaded diagnosis of stage four ovarian cancer. That was January 28th of this year. She was sent immediately to Florida Cancer Specialists in Lecanto.
The medical team there, led by Dr. Gustavo Fonseca, planned Hunt’s treatment. They explained to her that her job was to eat, sleep, and take care of herself during the coming months as they fought hard against the cancer.
“We would do several sessions of chemotherapy, and then she would meet with the surgeon to see if surgery was even an option for her,” recalled Medical Assistant, Angie Thorn.
When Hunt met with Dr. Mitchell Hoffman, a specialist in Gynecologic Oncology at Tampa General, he told her he would attempt surgery, but if the cancer had spread too much, he would have to close her up. During that surgery, Dr. Hoffman not only performed a hysterectomy, but also removed half of her colon and part of her stomach to try and cut the cancer from her.
“The first thing he said to me at my bedside was, ‘We think we got it all.’ There were no better words I could have heard,” Hunt remembers.
She did return to Citrus County for more chemotherapy sessions, but today she is cancer-free and hopes her story empowers others to take control of their healthcare. “If you know something’s wrong, you have to push,” said Hunt.