Alicia Anne Dunn
Alicia was born March 20, 1975 in Pittsburgh, PA. She has been married for 12 ½ years and has 3 children: Tawney, 16, Jack, 14 and Savannah, 9, as well as a 9 year old Miniature Schnauzer named Major. She also has a stepson named Ryan as well as 2 stepchildren, Korey, 9 and Ryli, 7.Alicia became a licensed Esthetician this past year and works at The Spa at River Ridge in Dublin. The owners, Peigi and Eric Hanson, sponsored a team for Alicia for the OCAO Strides for Hope 5k this past year. Alicia was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer, an immature teratoma, in 2007 at stage 2. She has been a survivor for 7 years now. She says the most difficult thing about her diagnosis was the fear that she felt.
“At first, it was all fear. Then the strength kicked in, until chemo beat me down.”
Alicia says that one of the symptoms that led up to her diagnosis was that she was very tired all of the time. She also noticed that her stomach was bigger, and attributed both symptoms to a lack of exercise at the time. She says she also experienced tenderness in her abdomen when her 2 year old would play and push on her abdomen. During treatment, Alicia says that she had very severe reactions to chemo.
“I was very sick. I was neutropenic. I got a blood clot in my lung and was in and out of the hospital. I had chemo every day for a week then once a week for two weeks then the cycle would start again. I never had a port or PICC line, so my veins were ruined. I also ended up having an allergic reaction to the IV contrast during one of many CT scans. I had cancer. Then chemo almost killed me.”
Through all that Alicia endured with her diagnosis and treatment, she said that her family helped her the most.“My husband and my parents got me through. Also, my little ones. My children were 2, 6 and 9 at the time. I knew I had to do whatever it took to still be here for them. My husband was amazing! He did it ALL. My dad came and sat with me every day while my husband went to work and sometimes he would take me to chemo. He also held me while we waited for the ambulance when I got my blood clot. He is such a hero to me.”
When asked about her battle with ovarian cancer, Alicia had the following to say:
“Being diagnosed with cancer was so surreal. I had no family history. I didn’t ever worry about getting Cancer, let alone at 32 years old. When I first sought a diagnosis by seeing a GYN, I was misdiagnosed as not having cancer. He told me I was too young and it was too large of a tumor. I waited 3 weeks for surgery and then received a phone call 3 weeks after that from the GYN telling me they biopsied the tumor and it came back with cancerous cells, but that he didn’t believe it so he had it retested and it was cancerous. I saw the oncologist the next day and started chemo the following Monday.”I prayed constantly. I took it minute by minute at times. I took solace in the fact that my Oncologist told me that the more side effects you have, the better outcome you have from the treatment. All of the medical professionals that cared for me were amazing – the nurses, residents and doctors at my oncologist’s office and at The James – they saved my life. Being done with chemo wasn’t the end of it though. The whole next year was a period of adjustment. Every pain, twinge, lump…. it was all scary. I went to doctors and had tests more than any other time in my life. Readjusting to daily life and trusting your body is a journey. I was released from my oncologist’s care this past spring. I hadn’t cried that much in quite awhile. I thought I had completely relaxed about a recurrence, but I don’t know that you ever do. It was bittersweet to be released from his care. So exciting and a relief, but they saved my life. They were my guardians. How do you say goodbye and live without a net? But, you do.
“It’s such a blessing and now I raise awareness as much as I can. I talk to women and girls about my experience all of the time. I am now an esthetician and love giving a relaxing and caring service to my guests. I use my passion for and talents in the beauty industry to help women. I am also involved with the OCAO as an advocate for survivors and to raise awareness. They are such a wonderful organization!“
Her advice for those with ovarian cancer or who are survivors is simple:
“When I was diagnosed, my oncologist’s office put me in touch with another woman who had recently gone through the same treatment as me. She also had the rare form of ovarian cancer. She told me that her only side effect from chemo was being a little tired. She worked, she shopped. Just took it slower. Although it was calming to my nerves, I was completely unprepared for the journey I was about to be on. You don’t know how you will react to treatment. Everyone is different. Hope for the best, and prepare your mind for the worst. Also, if I ever had to go through ongoing treatment line that again, the first thing I would ask for is a port. A central line port in your chest. It allows access for IVs without destroying your peripheral veins. I definitely recommend that. Lastly: prayer. My faith got me through times when it was all I had to hold on to. Friends and loved ones are amazing and want to help you, and they will. Immensely! There will be times though, when nothing helps. Pray. Much strength and love to all fighting, including their support systems! We are survivors! You can do this!”
More about Alicia:
Favorite quote: “Were you born to resist or be abused? I swear I’ll never give in, I refuse.” -Foo Fighters- Best of You. I love this quote for many reasons. I will never give up fighting and you have to look at every challenge that way. “Live like you were dying” is another favorite. When I’m doing something scary or if I’m nervous, I just think about how I could have died and now every moment is a blessing. I feel like I need to try things and live life to the fullest. I’ve been given that chance.
Favorite movie: Moulin Rouge. SO fun. SO tragic. Bright, beautiful and a whirlwind. Also, What Dreams May Cream. Unbelievable movie. Makes my heart stop and then race. It’s painful and beautiful.
Favorite holiday: Christmas. Magic!
Share an interesting fact about yourself: I absolutely love llamas and can’t wait to meet one someday.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?: Italy. It’s always intrigued me. Romance and Mobsters. Or Peru. I would love to see Machu Picchu.
What is the first thing you notice about another person?: My husband got me with a mixture of confidence, humor and STUNNING looks! Sweeping me off of my feet didn’t hurt either.
Do you have a celebrity crush?: My husband is a drummer. He’s my everything crush!
What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?: Happiness.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?: Send people back in time to change their choices or say goodbyes. (Inspired by Erica Harrington)
What is the best advice you have ever received from someone?: Pray.
What is the best advice you can give another person?: Pray.
What are 3 words that best describe who you are?: Sincere. Strong. Spiritual.