Sayla Hachey, 37, was lying unconscious when her sister and husband had to make one of the biggest decisions of her life, on her behalf.

After doing so, they waited eight hand-wringing hours at the Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Hospital in Portland, Ore.: four during the surgery and another four while she recovered.

When they were all in the same room again, Hachey roused, and she said to them, “Tell me.”

Nervously, they did.

Her ovaries, cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes were all removed. The complete hysterectomy would prevent her from having her own children, like she had always wanted.

Hachey rests at home in Portland, Ore. “If I knew [ovarian cancer] was in my family, I maybe would’ve been on birth control. I maybe would’ve tried to have kids before I was 25, if I knew I was high risk,” she says.
Hachey rests at home in Portland, Ore. “If I knew [ovarian cancer] was in my family, I maybe would’ve been on birth control. I maybe would’ve tried to have kids before I was 25, if I knew I was high risk,” she says.

‘This all happened so fast’

The Hacheys, married for five years, wanted a baby.

It started with a routine visit to the gynecologist in July. Sayla, a real estate broker, and her husband, Peter, wanted to begin fertility treatment after trying on their own for a period of time. So she went for a routine well-woman exam: a check-up and pap smear.

“It was me trying to get pregnant, and then it went from one reality to another, overnight,” says Sayla.

Sayla and Peter Hachey have been married for five years. “I’m thankful for everything I do have,” she says.
Sayla and Peter Hachey have been married for five years. “I’m thankful for everything I do have,” she says.

She told her doctor she was getting tired easily, urinating more frequently, bleeding outside her period and having some stabbing pains in her stomach. She thought it was possibly endometriosis.

“Being a woman, you’re always having some kind of symptom at least once a month, and sometimes they’re bad. You just chalk [the symptoms] up to that.”

Days later, Sayla’s primary doctor called, alarmed. Results from her pap smear indicated something serious. It was Sayla’s birthday, July 24, when an ultrasound revealed that her ovaries looked possibly malignant. After a CT scan and cone biopsy (to check for cervical cancer), obstetrician-gynecologist and surgeon William Winter said she needed surgery. He needed to see if it was ovarian cancer.

The surgery

The plan was for Winter to go in, take out one ovary, and biopsy it to determine whether Sayla had ovarian cancer. He wanted to be conservative and leave one ovary and her uterus so she could still try to have kids. They had discussed the possibility of a hysterectomy, but Sayla still hoped for the best.

During the surgery, Winter saw that one of her ovaries had enlarged so much it had moved around her other organs. The rest were pushed to the side of her stomach.

Sayla recounts what the doctor told her sister and husband. “He said, ‘You know this is the most difficult case I’ve ever seen, and we need to take everything out. We’re doing her no favors by keeping this inside of her.’”

There was no way she’d be able to have children, he told them.

Hachey’s closet.
Hachey’s closet.
Medication she has to take.
Medication she has to take.

The results

The ovaries that Winter removed were stage 3 ovarian cancer.

If she doesn’t undergo chemotherapy, Sayla is facing a 100 percent chance of reoccurrence.

With chemo, the chance is 30 to 45 percent.

“I’m devastated,” says Sayla. “I really don’t want chemo … but as long as I do the chemo, then I have a chance that it’ll be gone.”

For now, Sayla is resting and recovering at home with her little family of two dogs and two cats, who keep her spirits up. Her next appointment is in two weeks, and she remains hopeful.

“They’re taking such good care of me. When you’re at the cancer unit, they treat you like you’re a celebrity. They let my sister stay in a room [after the surgery]. They’re all genuinely nice. I’m just so well taken care of, and I have such a great support group, I’m thankful for that.”

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