Norfolk, Va. - Jane Gardner used to sit in the anchor seat here at NewsChannel 3. She’s a member of our family.
Today she’s in a battle of a lifetime. She was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer – called the “silent killer” because it’s often discovered too late.
When she experienced bloating and abdominal pain, she never guessed this would be the outcome.
As a decades-long reporter, she knows it’s a teaching moment to tell her story.
“When you ask people to tell you their story and they always say yes, how could I say no!” she says.
Barbara Ciara sat down with Jane and asked her about the moment when her doctor told her what no one wants to hear.
“She came back with this kind of horrified look on her face and said you have a mass in your abdomen, and given your history, we have to assume ovarian cancer,” she says.
Jane was first diagnosed with cancer 15 years ago and had beaten it twice already before bad news would send her back to the hospital for surgery and a new diagnosis.
“I have to take this very seriously and move forward very fast because it’s clearly very aggressive,” she says.
Jane posted a message to her Facebook page on June 2nd letting her friends know of her new diagnosis – “Stage 2B ovarian cancer, specifically clear cell carcinoma of the ovary.”
“The response has been so wonderful. This community has kind of wrapped its arms around me and said what can we do?” she says.
It also made her feel better to widen the scope of her professional advice.
“I wanted to be a good patient. All those years as a health reporter, I told people you need to get a second opinion, so I went to Duke,” she says.
The physicians at Duke told her to stay the course with the treatment that was recommended in Norfolk, so Jane and Gary, her husband of 42-years, prepared themselves mentally for another round of chemotherapy that she needs to save her life, but that could promote more nerve damage like she experienced 15 years ago.
“I always try to use the full word chemotherapy- to concentrate on the fact that this is therapy and going to make me better, but it is a heavy drug and the worst effect on me was painful neuropathy in my feet and hands, she says.
On Tuesday, June 16th, Jane with Gary by her side, checked in at Virginia Oncology to begin what may be four months of chemotherapy treatments.
The sessions are five hours long, beginning with anti-nausea drugs, then two chemotherapy medicines.
“There are people who are so much worse off than me. I feel very fortunate that I didn’t die the first time around or the second and I’m here today having really had a really wonderful life and we’ll see what happens. A very wise man once told me, just live every day,” Jane says.
That wise advice came from her father when he was facing a health challenge.
So how did the most difficult round of chemotherapy go for Jane?
She was out for a walk the next day and enjoyed a bit of nourishment.
We’ll continue to check in on Jane through the process, knowing that the community that she loves so much is holding her up in thought and prayer.
We spoke to Gardner and she says she's feeling good and plans to spend the weekend soaking up the sunshine with her husband.
She is so grateful for all the support from both friends and fan alike.
We will continue to give you regular updates.