According to her doctor, Becky Teter is as durable as they come.
When the Lake Highlands resident was diagnosed with ovarian cancer five years ago, her tumors were so numerous that her doctor couldn’t remove them through surgery. Ever since then, Teter has been on chemotherapy. She receives her 100th treatment this month.
“I looked (durable) up in the dictionary and durable means the ability to exist,” Teter says. “I know very much that I’m a walking miracle.”
Because symptoms are vague and no diagnostic test exists, ovarian cancer is often called “the whisper.” Teter and other women are working to create more noise about the disease. She and members of the ovarian cancer support group at Baylor University Medical Center are publishing a collection of 25 essays written by women in the group. They range in age from early 30s to mid-70s and their essays discuss the harsh realities of living with ovarian cancer.
The book was Teter’s idea. It struck her when she was eating lunch at Whataburger, her favorite restaurant.
“Unfortunately, I would be labeled editor and initiator of the project,” Teter jokes, but changes her tone when adding, “I believe in the power of a life story. It came to me, that all those women, before they were diagnosed, had a life.”
She had her prayer journal with her at Whataburger and jotted down TORCH, an acronym for Tales of Remarkable Courage and Hope. She then called Jan Aldredge-Clanton, an oncology chaplin at Baylor.
“She was so excited about the idea,” Teter says.
Members of the support group loved the idea. too. They instantly went to work on their essays.
“It’s amazing to look at and thumb through,” Teter says. “It’s a tribute to women. Mine’s called ‘Hope, Hope Hooray.’ I’ve seen what taking someone’s hope away from them can do.”
Dr. Claude Stringer, who treats many of the women in the group, wrote the forward, and his wife, artist Shannon Kincaid-Stringer, created a painting to be used on the cover. The painting will also be made into a postcard and stamp for further fundraising.
Donations covered the cost of printing, and the group is using an online publisher. They plan to release TORCH in September, Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. It will be distributed at no cost to women with ovarian cancer. Many doctors and nurses also have expressed an interest in obtaining copies.
Aldredge-Clanton says it is amazing how easily and quickly the project came together.
“I think the very writing of the stories has increased their hope,” Aldredge-Clanton says. “It has increased their enthusiasm, their energy and their empathy for one another. The hope is palpable.”
To make a donation for TORCH or to get more information, call the Cvetko Patient Education Center at 214.820.2608.