Jersey City, NJ, March 20, 2016 – Helene Swank, regional marketing manager at Alaris Health for Essex County and Rahway, is a fitness enthusiast. In 2008, she ran her first half marathon at age 42 and caught the running bug. She went on to run 44 more half marathons, four marathons, two ultramarathons and many more fun run races, even scaling a couple mountains over the years.
That all came to an abrupt halt last August when she had trouble breathing and pain in her chest during a normal run. The pain became so unbearable, she rushed to the emergency room, and tests revealed that she had blood clots in her lungs and left leg. When she was readmitted three weeks later, doctors found cysts on her ovaries. She went to Saint Barnabas Medical Center to have the cysts removed, a fairly common procedure for women, but doctors then discovered that she had stage one ovarian cancer and cancer in her uterus.
She and her friends and family were stunned by the diagnosis. While others were celebrating the new year, Helene began six rounds of chemotherapy last December. “There’s no way to prepare for the loss of physical self and prepare for the medical issues that chemo treatments cause. I had to have a port put in my chest where the chemo would be administered and didn’t adapt to it well at all. I couldn’t imagine living my life with this button thing in my chest.”
Through her struggles, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) has provided Helene the support and information she needed, inspiring her to become a volunteer to help other women suffering with the disease. “She has been and continues to be an amazing volunteer for our organization. Her story is one of strength and determination,” said NOCC New Jersey Chapter Manager Nicole Lewis.
Little by little, Helene has gotten back into a routine, first walking two to four miles at a time, then adding in spin classes. She is extremely excited to participate in the NOCC’s Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer in Liberty State Park in Jersey City on Saturday, May 6. “I believe women need to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer, where they can get help and how they can help others suffering from the disease,” she said.
Helene is counting down the days to her last chemo treatment on March 31st and will be surrounded by family and friends to celebrate. When asked how she has been able to maintain such incredible determination and strength, she said, “I have incredible friends and family, a compassionate husband who is right by my side and colleagues who’ve made working with this just like a normal day.”
Most recently, Helene found out that she was accepted to run in the New York Marathon this November. “I can see the finish line. The same determination I needed to get through all of my races, I now use to get through this. I’ve been given a second chance, and it’s not going to be without purpose.”
To learn more about the NOCC and Tri-State Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer, visit their website at ovarian.org. And to learn more about the New York Marathon, visit tcsnycmarathon.org.
About Alaris Health
Alaris statewide network of independently owned and operated Member Health Centers offers a wide variety of services across a continuum of care, ranging from short-term post-hospital rehabilitation and long-term care specialized care.
Each Member Health Center is licensed to use the Alaris Health name and receive non-health related services. All health care related services are provided solely by each independently owned and operated Member Health Center.
For more information, please visit www.alarishealth.com or call (855)7-ALARIS for more information.