Sherry Pollex Shares Her Story With Members of SGOJuly 7, 2016
Sherry Pollex began feeling pelvic pain in the spring of 2014. But when the pain became more persistent and her stomach made her look like she was three months pregnant, she went to her OB-GYN. After being “patient pinballed” from doctor to doctor for over three months, Pollex was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in August 2014.
Three months after her final chemotherapy treatment, Sherry, an ovarian cancer thriver, sat with her longtime partner, NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr., to share her ovarian cancer journey over dinner with members of theSociety of Gynecologic Oncologists during its annual meeting in San Diego. Truex made a point of flying to San Diego to support Pollex at the SGO gathering just hours after competing in the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, California. Pollex and Truex credit her increased chances of survival to working with a gynecologic oncologist and are working to ensure more women get the right treatment from the right doctor at the right time by using the OVA1 blood test.
Although the most hurtful part of her cancer diagnosis has been missing out on the chance to have children, Pollex believes her purpose in life is to build awareness around the disease. “I’m not going anywhere for a long time,” she said. “There’s so much work to do for other women.”
After her diagnosis, Truex broadened the mission of the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation to focus not only on pediatric cancer, but also on ovarian cancer. He told the gathering that when doctors diagnosed Pollex’s cancer, “we didn’t know what it was.”
“Average people don’t even know what it is — that’s the scariest part,” he said, noting the contrast with the widespread messaging and public awareness surrounding breast cancer efforts. “The awareness [for ovarian cancer] isn’t even on the chart. So that’s where you have to start.”
Attendees discussed the importance of women working with the right doctor once a pelvic mass is identified. They also agreed that patients and doctors must be able to recognize the symptoms of a pelvic mass. Pollex shared that she’s always had stomach issues and never thought what she was feeling was linked to ovarian cancer, especially because she was 35 at the time and in pretty good health.
“We take care of patients like you all of the time but we never get the chance to hear about everything you’ve gone through,” said Dr. Krish Tewari, a gynecologic oncologist at the University of California-Irvine.
The intimate group was so moved by Pollex’s story that it suggested that she be a featured speaker during next year’s SGO meeting. “Patients are the reason for everything we do,” said Dr. Judy Wolf, chief medical officer of ASPiRA LABS. “When we better understand who our patients are and their journeys, it makes us better physicians.”