My Journey with Ovarian Cancer

My name is Julie Shrell. Thanks to the knowledge I gained using Myriad’s hereditary cancer test, I am an ovarian cancer survivor.My journey with ovarian cancer began when I was 40. Because my dad’s mom had breast cancer twice, once around age 50 and again at age 82, I was always worried about getting breast cancer. I decided to go to a breast surgeon to discuss my chance of having the same fate as my grandmother. She had me fill out a family history questionnaire and told me I was not at risk. Both of my parents were only children, so we don’t have a large extended family.

Eight years later, at age 48, I was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer after having a hysterectomy and BSO. Looking back, I now realize that I did have some symptoms – constipation, frequent urination, and bloating. I was tired and emotional, and felt like something had taken root in my abdomen. An ultrasound revealed abnormalities in the shape of my ovaries and my blood work showed a high CA-125 level. I was shocked.  I knew breast cancer could affect young women, but I thought ovarian cancer was a disease of older women.

After my diagnosis, I asked to find out if I had “that” gene. Because I have two daughters, I was very motivated to make sure they could take the appropriate steps to reduce their cancer risk. My Myriad test result came back positive for a BRCA1 mutation.

Knowledge is power. I also learned that Myriad has a test that could look at the genetic makeup of my tumor to help determine what kind of cancer treatment would work best for me. Being BRCA1 positive meant that my cancer responded well to platinum-based chemotherapy drugs. After 7 rounds of chemo, and a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, I am now an almost 7-year cancer survivor! I can now help my 24-year-old twin daughters, Simone and Marissa, with their journeys as they too are BRCA1 carriers. Gavin, my 19-year-old son, will also get tested one day.

I am honored to be a patient speaker for Myriad and I am so grateful to Myriad for providing me with the knowledge that has enabled me to be a cancer survivor and help prevent other members of my family from getting cancer.


Julie Shrell, Ovarian Cancer Survivor


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