Holly Ogaard answers the phone and the tone of her voice reveals she has a smile on her face. There is no anger or sadness in her young, cheerful soprano, which is shocking considering the twenty-six year old has just been diagnosed with uterine cancer.
In the last seven years, Holly has had seven major surgeries including one that resulted in the removal of her right ovary. At age 14 Holly was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a disease that causes small cysts to grow on the ovaries. While the cysts are typically not harmful, it may lead to hormone imbalances and infertility, so when Holly and her husband, Matthew, found out they were pregnant on November 22, 2014 the two were ecstatic. However, the couple lost the baby right before Christmas, a difficult situation for any hopeful parent, but the couple was not ready to give up and after several months decided to go to the doctor to see when they could try to conceive again. The doctor did several exams, ran blood work, and did an ultra sound. It was the ultra sound that ultimately showed the mass the size of a softball on her left ovary which the doctors removed and sent in for testing. On July 24, Holly and Matthew heard the news every person fears; the mass was cancerous.
After doctors had determined the mass was cancerous they also tested the uterine lining, to see if the cancer was spreading. Thankfully, the lining was clean and the cancer had not spread, making Holly’s chances for beating the cancer even better. Her next step is to undergo extensive radiation treatments in Sioux Falls or Rapid City, which have the two treatment centers her doctors recommend. With the radiation treatments, her doctors have high hopes that the masses won’t come back and she will be able to have children.
Holly’s main support comes from Matthew who has been there through every doctor’s appointment, surgery, and the whole emotional rollercoaster. Holly is also aware of the support Matthew’s employers, Lyle and Rhonda Rowen, have given them the past months, “There’s no way to describe how incredible they have been. Anytime we need off for doctor’s appointments, they haven’t batted an eye. It’s a busy time of year and they have not hesitated at all when we need time off.” While Holly and Matthew have lived in Wessington for less than a year they have been overwhelmed by the support they have received from a community they have just joined. “It’s like helping a total stranger. They don’t know our background, but they are so willing to help us. It is truly inspiring and we appreciate everyone coming together,” says Holly.
While the emotional support Holly has received has been incredible, she is still struggling. Holly admits that, “I let my pride get in the way sometimes and I don’t ask for help when I know I should…but I am having issues right now paying for radiation treatments.”
Holly, her family, and friends have decided to hold a benefit at the Huron Elks #444 Bar and Grill on Sat., September 19 from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. to help assist with the medical expenses. There will be a walking taco meal followed by a silent and live auction. If you have more questions please contact Holly at (605) 468-9042.
Holly understands that treating her cancer isn’t going to be easy, but she is confident she can keep living each and every day to the fullest, “I wake up every morning and I put a smile on my face. I know some days I feel angry because I’m 26 and I have to do this and deal with it. The next day I feel like it will be OK and we’re going to get through this. Other days I lose hope, but I won’t give up.”