Rhodes Rage Over Ovarian Cancer

I have always found it very hard to ask for help, but Lord knows it'd takes a village to raise a child and it takes that same village and more to help a sick person within that same village. Unfortunately, I am that sick person. I'm 39, mother of 2 wonderful children (CJ who is 5 and Heidi who is almost 3), and wife to my incredible husband Chris.

On Friday, October 26th, 2018, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Let me back up a bit and explain how Chris and I got to this past Friday.

On Thursday, October 18th, 2018, I made an appt to see my PCP because I have been having abdominal issues since the end of September/beginning of October. At first I thought I was having normal bloating with my stomach being distended (I even took a pregnancy test to rule that out - all 4 tests came out negative) and the pressure (not pain) was becoming an increasing discomfort. My PCP sent me to University Radiology in New Brunswick for an ultrasound.

On Friday, October 19th, 2018, I received the results of the ultrasound and it was strongly suggested on the results that I get a CT scan of my abdomen right away. It took all day calling my PCP to speak to one of his associates (as my PCP was away for the weekend) to get someone to read the results. I was told that a pre-authorization for a CT would be done early the following week, but not to worry.

On Monday, October 22nd, 2018, when I got to work, my office manager took one look at me and said I needed to speak to my PCP (who shares office space in our building two days a week) to see if there was some way to speed up the pre-authorization. Unfortunately, my PCP's office showed zero compassion and told me if I was feeling as bad as I was, then I needed to go to the ER. Which is what my office manager and the pediatricians at my job did shortly after that and I went to RWJ University Hospital in New Brunswick.

While in the ER, I had my CT scan. While waiting for the results I actually received a phone call from my PCP's office that the pre-authorization was ready and I could make an appt - when I told them I was in the ER and that I didn't want to speak to the doctor on call, I think I hit a nerve, but at this point I didn't care as I was finally getting medical attention.

My doctor in the ER broke the news that I have a mass covering my left ovary. While waiting for Chris to get to me in the ER (many thanks to our friend Sam for coming over to take care of CJ and Heidi), the PA from the pediatric office, PJ, came and stayed with me until almost 11pm (many thanks to her as well).

On Tuesday morning, October 23rd, 2018, I met the doctor who would become my oncologist, Dr. Buckley, and he explained not only the results of the CT scan, but sent me for another CT scan (this time a CT of my chest), a biopsy, and a paracenthesis (draining of the fluid in my abdomen - which ended up coming back on Wednesday morning, which Dr. Buckley told me would happen). It was late Tuesday night when I finally left the ER and got a room. lol

On Wednesday, October 24th, 2018, Dr. Buckley and his team came and spoke to Chris and I. I was discharged on Wednesday and was told that we would get the biopsy results on Friday, which would be the day we would discuss the game plan. We went home knowing that it was most likely cancerous, but just how much was unknown until Friday.

On Friday, October 26th, 2018, Chris and I went to the RWJ Rutgers Cancer Institute of NJ in New Brunswick to meet with Dr. Buckley. During our meeting, he confirmed that I do have ovarian cancer.

I went for a mammogram this past Monday and had a biopsy for an abnormality with my left lymph node under my arm pit and for a spot found on my right breast during the mammogram. We hope to get the results of the biopsies tomorrow, Friday, November 2nd, 2018.

Today I had my genetic testing done tomorrow to see if I carry the BRCA Gene (which given the extensive family history of cancer I probably do carry the gene).

Game plan for my cancer will be 3 rounds of chemotherapy (one week on and two weeks off) hopefully starting this Monday, November 5th, 2018 (everything now depends on the results of Tuesday's biopsies - if I also have breast cancer then the course of action will need to change). After the 3 rounds of chemo, 4 weeks or more after the last round of chemo, I will have a CT scan to see how much the cancer has been shrunk and then be scheduled for a complete hysterectomy (sometime early 2019). After my 6-8 weeks of recovery, I would have another 3 rounds of chemo like before. I'll be having constant blood work done to make sure I'm strong enough for each upcoming step. 3 to 4 days after each chemo treatment I will feel the fatigue and other side effects of the chemo for at least 3-4 days (maybe longer).

Yes, I will be losing all of my hair. No, I don't want a wig. Bald is beautiful. Chris is going to crochet me hats to wear.

My office manager said she will order me masks with pretty designs to wear at the office when my immune system is low. I don't want to scare any little kids coming into the office. Yeah, I am allowed and encouraged to work while on chemo - Dr. Buckley wants me to keep a normal schedule as possible. I will only be on disability during my 6-8 weeks of recovery after my surgery.

CJ's teacher, Miss Sabrina, is on board to keep CJ's school schedule as normal as possible. So between now and the end of CJ's kindergarten year at Aldene School will be filled with this unknown.

I am the captain of my ship. I am serving an eviction notice to cancer - GET THE FUCK OFF!!!

I have two high school graduations to attend. I have two weddings to dance my heart out to. I have grandchildren that will need to be spoiled. I am going to live to be 100! I have another 60 years in me. I will not quit. I will not give up. I have my husband and our children to live for.

I'm not one to ask for help. I'm normally the one doing for everyone else. However, right now, Chris, the kids, and I need everyone's help. To say that I'm not afraid would be a lie. I'm downright petrified. We thank you in advance for your support.

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Melissa Rhodes 
Roselle Park, NJ
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