When Stephanie Parke was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in June 2013, she had no idea that such tragic news would turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Three years later–after a total hysterectomy, 18 weeks of chemo, and a 4-month clinical trial at MD Anderson–Parke is cancer-free and living life at its fullest as a loving mom, career woman, and ovarian cancer awareness activist.
Aside from running her own dental practice and raising three kids, Parke spends her days helping women who have been diagnosed with the ugly disease and aiding in finding a cure. The most important thing for women right now, she believes, is being aware.
“My main platform is to know your body—and to listen to it,” says Parke, who admits to ignoring her own symptoms for months before being diagnosed. “As women, we get so wrapped up in taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves. ”
Parke works with organizations like Memorial Hermann’s In The Pink (http://www.memorialhermann.org/give-volunteer/foundation/in-the-pink-of-health/) and Pink Pals (http://www.memorialhermann.org/news/%E2%80%9Cpink-pals%E2%80%9D-raise-over-$13,000-to-date-for–memorial-hermann-in-the-pink-of-health/) to get the word out about ovarian cancer and to encourage women to speak up when they know something’s not right.
“We’re all in this together,” says Parke. “I’m here to encourage women to talk about what they’re experiencing and to help them through it.”
As for her own journey, Parke has made it a point to appreciate every day as it comes, and to never take anything for granted. Three years ago, she was given the worst news someone could possibly receive from a doctor—and now, having come out from the other side, she has a new take on life and an extremely grateful heart.
“I’ve met so many wonderful people through this experience, and my relationships with both God and my family have never been stronger. I’m thankful for even the smallest things in life. Everything—even just to be alive—is a blessing.”