Health Beat: Fighting cancer together

Health Beat: Fighting cancer together

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Morgan Ellison and Madison McDaniel never knew each other until they stepped into a room last year.

"She was the first young person I saw in the infusion clinic," Ellison said.

"We were the youngest people by far," McDaniel said.

The two young women are fighting a rare form of ovarian cancer that affects only about 1,000 women in the U.S. each year. As luck would have it, they were diagnosed within weeks of each other and received treatment at the same hospital.

"It was so nice to have someone to talk to," Ellison said.

"It was nice having someone going through the same thing," McDaniel said.

The girls had to endure nine grueling weeks of chemotherapy. They talked and texted about the painful side-effects.

When cancer patients bond and have a support system, studies show it can boost their psychological well-being and help them feel less anxious, fearful and depressed.

Dr. Rebecca Arend, a gynecologic oncologist at UAB, said she saw the friendship between Ellison and McDaniel do exactly that.

"Having that experience together was really beautiful as a physician to be able to witness," Arend said.

The very last day of chemo for both girls was emotional for everyone. They got to ring a bell to celebrate their last treatment and their cancer remission. It's a battle they fought together and won together.

Arend said this type of ovarian cancer, known as "germ cell," is almost never fatal, so both girls have a good prognosis.

About 22,000 cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year, and about five percent of them will be a germ cell tumor.

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