Tiffany Molles, 50, of Kingsburg, prefers to be behind a lens. But when
ovarian cancer put her in the spotlight in April of 2016 she stepped into
a picture she never imagined.
Tiffany started the year off with nothing but excitement, looking forward
to celebrating her 20 year wedding anniversary, her 50th birthday, and her son’s graduation from high school. However, lingering
pain in her lower abdomen told her something wasn’t right.
She waited a couple of weeks and then felt the urge to see her doctor.
“I knew within hours that I was in trouble,” Tiffany said.
After an ultrasound, lab work and then a CT scan just days later, her
fears came to light and she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Tiffany
pushed past the fear and anger that initially hit her and was determined
to fight, but being a naturally shy and private person, she was not ready
to share her battle.
Within a month she was able to break the news to her family, and she headed
to Redwood City to have her first surgery with Kate O’Hanlan, M.D.
After a successful laparoscopic surgery, Tiffany struggled to find the
right care. Through the strong recommendation of Dr. O’Hanlan, she
confidently sought care from Robert Havard Jr., M.D. and Sequoia Regional
Cancer Center in Visalia. There, she found hope and the only words she
needed to hear, “you’re a candidate for a cure”.
She underwent her first round of chemotherapy at Sequoia Regional Cancer
Center (SRCC) and finished with no adverse symptoms. She recognized the
superior care she received at SRCC and credited the humor and compassion
of her nurses for getting her through it. “My nurses became my sisters.
They are amazing!” Tiffany said with a beaming smile. She forged
a special bond with her nurse Stephanie McCall at SRCC whose humor and
positive attitude matched hers.
Weeks into the first round of chemo, Tiffany found the strength to break
the news to her friends and others. What she found was a team of support
unlike any other. Her mother served as her chauffeur, taking her to almost
every appointment. Her friends and fellow mothers rallied together to
make sure Tiffany didn’t miss one moment of her son’s lives,
including capturing special moments in photos, something Tiffany is passionate
about doing. Most importantly, it forced her to surrender her control
and relinquish her role as the “rock” of the family and allow
her husband John to be just that. “It took me 20 years of marriage
to realize that he is the pillar of our family,” Tiffany said through tears.
A short time later, Tiffany underwent a second surgery with Dr. O’Hanlan
to remove lymph nodes and some intestinal lining (a place where her type
of cancer is known to hide). She also had two ports placed for receiving
chemotherapy and other medications. Her next round of intraperitoneal
(IP) chemotherapy was much more difficult and was when she truly started
to feel its disabling side effects. Again, with her team of nurses, friends
and family, she battled on.
One year later, Tiffany is cancer free and though it didn’t turn
out to be the year Tiffany eagerly anticipated, looking back on it she
sums it up in one powerful word, “grateful”. Today she is
peeking out from behind the comfort of her camera’s lens and urging
women to take care of themselves. “There is no test for ovarian
cancer and it can develop at any age,” Tiffany said, “If you
are feeling pain or anything unusual, complain of your symptoms and get
an ultrasound instead of just an exam. If you are diagnosed, don’t
second guess yourself. Find people that you trust and move forward.”
Today, Tiffany is doing just that as she continues to work as a photographer
capturing family and senior portraits.