What It's Like To Be Diagnosed With Ovarian Cancer At 15

Photo: Courtesy of Joe Schmelzer.
Three years ago, Caly Bevier's life changed when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at just 15. From there, the Ohio native, who had spent much of her time playing volleyball and cheerleading, went on a journey to recovery that ended in her finding her voice — literally.
As she was going through chemotherapy and recovery, a video of Bevier singing Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" at a benefit for a friend went viral when her dad uploaded it onto YouTube. And from there, Bevier found herself on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and then as a finalist on America's Got Talent.
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Now in remission, Bevier is using her voice to raise more awareness for cancer amongst young people.
"I've always said that no matter what happens with music or my career, I always want to fight for people who have cancer or have had cancer," she says.
And she's putting that fight into action. On 4th June Bevier will be performing at an event for the Tina's Wish Foundation to raise awareness for early detection of ovarian cancer.
Ahead of her performance, Bevier talked to Refinery29 about what it was like to be diagnosed with cancer at such a young age, and what she wants young people to know about their health.
Were you always a singer? How did you get into it?
"I always loved singing, [but] where I was from, no one really got any opportunities to break out into anything, so I was always singing in my room, or singing to my family, or doing small talent shows, and I never for a second even thought that I wanted to be famous one day. But people had always been like you should try out for [American] Idol, you should try out for this and that. And I was always like, 'I don’t know, nothing’s gonna happen for me.' It was almost a very negative mindset towards it, which now, I would never have."
When did you start to have a more positive mindset?
"I think after I got through my whole chemo treatments. I think having cancer totally changed my whole perspective on life. I definitely used to be a little more negative, a little more of a Debbie downer about things, I’m not gonna lie. And now I see everything has a positive twist on it, even if it’s a situation that has me totally blindsided. I will always see the good in the situation. After I had cancer, I was like, 'I need to go for what I want.'"
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You were diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer when you were 15 — tell me a little more about what it was like to get diagnosed so young.
"It was funny, because literally the first thing I cried about was my hair falling out, like I think a lot of girls would. And then the second thing I cried about was not being able to do competitive cheer. I think my mindset was still in the teenage part of things, I wasn’t even like, 'Oh shit, I gotta go through chemo now.'
So it took a minute for everything to settle, but it helped having the friends I had around me, and my family, and my whole community. Everyone was just extremely positive and helped me."

The first thing I cried about was my hair falling out.

How did you get diagnosed? When did you first start realizing that there was a problem?
"About a year and a half before my diagnosis. I was diagnosed in 2015, and a year and a half before that, I noticed a lump. It was really small, so at first, I thought it was abs because it was in the abdomen area. I didn’t think anything of it. Then it got a little bigger, and I changed my story for myself just to be like, I don’t know what it is, and I’m just constipated or something. The other thing is I had to pee constantly even after drinking a small glass of water and I just told myself, Oh I just have a small bladder. I think that was one of the main things I should have been more aware of.
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"Then [my family and I] were once in Florida, and the lump in my stomach had doubled to the size of a softball, and my dad saw it and was like, 'We have to get you to the doctor.'"
Once you started going into remission, what was the recovery process like?
"I guess for me it wasn’t too hard, it was just hard getting back into the swing of things. I missed the first week of sophomore year 'cause I couldn’t even walk from class to class without having to catch my breath. I was almost embarrassed to [be there] because I could tell I was struggling just to walk down the hall, and I was like, I can't do this."
What’s something you told yourself to get through when things were really hard?
"Just to keep fighting and stay positive. People had been telling me, 'negativity feeds sickness,' and I didn't want to feed my sickness. So just staying positive, telling myself that there was going to be a light at the end. All of those cliché things, but I think those are things that helped get me through that."
What do you wish more people knew about ovarian cancer?
"I wish more young people were more aware of it, because I never would have thought that I’d have cancer at all, [let alone] ovarian cancer. And when you think of any cancer, [you think of] older people. But cancer does not discriminate, and you always have to be aware of what your body is doing, and if it’s making these weird changes that weren’t happening before."
If you were to meet someone diagnosed with cancer at a young age like you were, what would you say to them?
"To stay strong, stay positive. It’s going to be hard, but you have to stay mentally strong. There are going to be times when you want to break down and cry and lay there in a ball and not do anything. But there will be times when you can wake up in the morning and you're like, 'Wow, it looks beautiful outside.' Go outside and appreciate the beautiful things in life."
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