For 29-year-old Anna Camille Tucci Patterson, learning she had ovarian cancer wasn’t nearly as hard as finding out she wouldn’t be able to get pregnant, due to treatments and surgeries related to her diagnosis.
“I’ve always wanted to have kids and that was definitely the hardest thing,” says Anna Camille. “Harder than hearing I have cancer was that I wouldn’t be able to carry my own child. It was tough.”
Following her diagnosis, Anna Camille underwent several surgeries, including a hysterectomy, as well as chemotherapy.
Coming from a close, small family, Anna Camille was surrounded by support during her cancer journey.
“They’ve been amazing. They’re [not just] telling me, ‘You’re strong. You can get through this.’ They’re just there [for me]. And I’m grateful for it.”
‘Not worthy’ of the Bravery Bell
Anna Camille heard the Bravery Bell ringing and people clapping a few different times during her first treatment—it’s hard to miss.
“I finally asked someone, “What is that bell?” says Anna Camille. “[They told me] ‘That’s the Bravery Bell. You ring it when you’re done chemo.’”
Due to her final chemotherapy treatment being cancelled, she never had the opportunity to ring the Bravery Bell, but she’s OK with that.
“I don’t know if what I’ve been through is worthy of it,” says Anna Camille. “There are a lot of people who don’t make it through to ring the bell and that makes me sad. As hard as it was, I made it through chemo and have a life ahead of me. So I don’t know if I’m worthy of the Bravery Bell.”
One year later, cancer free
Now in remission, Anna Camille has been back at work for six months and secured a full-time, permanent position. She bought a house with her boyfriend and they've been matched with a surrogate mother and are moving forward with creating a family. Plus, her hair has grown back—curlier than ever before.
“I think I broke the mold a little bit by being my positive self,” says Anna Camille. “My biggest fear was that people were going to feel sorry for me. And that’s why when I left I didn’t tell my colleagues what went on because I didn’t want to be ‘that girl,’ ‘that girl who had cancer.’”
She admits, initially, she thought cancer would be a stage in her life, one she could move past and forget about. But now she sees the value in her experience and in sharing it with others.
“I do hope that I’ll never have to do treatment again, but it was a really important part of my life and I’ll never move past it,” says Anna Camille. “I want to continue helping other people that are going through it and continue advocating for more support for people with cancer and people with ovarian cancer.”