Denise Collins chronicled her cancer treatment experience with awe-inspiring courage, relentless optimism and a good bit of humor.
September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month. Denise Collins, 42, a friend I met through St. Joan of Arc parish in Aberdeen, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2021. After surgery, chemo and a tremendous amount of prayer, Denise was declared cancer-free in August 2022. Denise chronicled her experience on Facebook with awe-inspiring courage, relentless optimism and a good bit of humor. I am grateful to Denise for sharing her story with us.
On Thanksgiving 2021, Denise Collins asked her sister and best friend, Michele, “does my stomach look big?” For the past three months, she had noticed that her abdomen kept expanding and was tender to the touch. It was so swollen, in fact, that when she lay on her side, she felt her organs sloshing around like they were in water. At Michele’s advice, Denise made an appointment with her GI doctor who ordered some imaging.
Denise continued about her life working in sales and acting as the president of the American Legion Auxiliary Harford Unit 39 in Bel Air. She had been volunteering at the many events that take place at the American Legion including weekly pit beef, bingo and special events like the Oktoberfest and yearly craft shows, but was beginning to have trouble sleeping.
The scan her doctor had ordered revealed free fluid in Denise’s abdomen, so the gastroenterologist set her up for a perinstetisis, where the doctor inserts a needle into the abdomen and removes fluid. The doctor removed 22 liters of fluid (that is 11- 2 liter bottles of sodas) weighing 50 pounds from Denise’s abdomen.