From an Ovarian Cancer Survivor’s Viewpoint: Being Diagnosed [Interview][Transcript]

Deanna_Won_Ovarian_Cancer_DiagnosisGuest: Deanna Won
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Deanna Won is the Founder of Keynotes to Life, LLC. She is a Speaker, Leadership Consultant, and Holistic Health Coach who inspires people to reach their highest potential as leaders, through integrating leadership principles with purposeful and healthy living. Deanna is a former Air Force Colonel and physicist of over 26 years. At the peak of her career, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her condition deteriorated to the point where she was admitted into hospice care on oxygen, and was given one month to live. Miraculously, she recovered through changing her nutrition, thoughts, and prayers. As a result, she has a strong passion to provide help to those who seek to heal in mind, body, and spirit and lead a life of purpose.

Segment overview: In this segment Deanna Won talks about her near death experience with ovarian cancer.


Health Professional Radio

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Thank you so much for joining us today. Our guest to studio today is Deanna Won. She is the founder of Keynotes to Life, LLC and she’s also a Speaker, a Leadership Consultant and Holistic Health coach. She is also a former Air Force Colonel and Physicist of over 26 years, at who at the peak of her career she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. How are you doing today Deanna?

Deanna Won: I’m doing really great Neal. Thanks for having me on the show.

N: Thank you so much for joining us. You are a cancer survivor and there are many people who are inspired just to hear your story.

D: Yes, and I’m grateful for to be alive. It was looking pretty grim for me awhile back, I didn’t think I was going to live to see my retirement from the Air Force.

N: In the Air Force you’re an Air Force Colonel and a Physicist. I’m sure that you worked on some very interesting projects, is there anything that you can tell us that was exciting?

D: Yeah, there were lots of exciting things that I worked on. Right out of school I went to the Air Force Academy and majored in Physics and so upon graduating I was just really thrilled because I was actually allowed to work in a laboratory and was told to design a laser radar system from scratch. So that was pretty exciting and I went on from there to working on things like launching satellites, to chemical and biological or warfare defense, missile defense, and also in natal operations.

N: It’s in the air force, as I mentioned earlier at the very peak of your career as a scientist and as an officer that you were diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

D: Yes. And it came about quite by accident, I was actually on my way to a yoga class and it was during the winter time and I slipped on ice and went airborne landed right on my tail bone and I had to be taken to the hospital where they were scanning me to see if I had broken my tail bone.

N: Uh huh.

D: And it was incident to that scan that they say “Oh by the way, we noticed that you have a cyst on your left ovary.” And so that was the first indicator that that something wasn’t quite right.

N: You said that was the very first indicator. Have you since learned that other people experienced symptoms, maybe some people experienced none as yourself or are there symptoms that you maybe should have? And you’ve been called a miracle so far so maybe have you learn that is the case that there are symptoms that you should have experienced but just didn’t?

D: Actually the symptoms of ovarian cancer are extremely vague. And it’s known as the cancers that “whispers” for that reason. And some of the symptoms include feeling bloated even if you had not eaten or else you might just eat a few bites of your meal and you feel full or else you might feel some pressure or pain in your abdomen or your pelvis or even in your back, and there might be some changes in the urgency or frequency of urination as well, or you might notice abnormal bleeding. But for me I really didn’t have at least initially any indicator, any of these symptoms. When I went to follow up of my doctor and in fact she asked me “Well do you feel any pain?” And I said no I don’t. And so she just said “Well you know don’t worry about it, because the cysts are very common in women at childbearing age” and so I didn’t worry about it, until 10 months later I had excruciating pain and it radiates from my pelvis all the way up to my right shoulder and I had to be hospitalized and put on a morphine IV at that point.

N: So this was something you were going about your day doing whatever and all of a sudden Bam! This excruciating pain hits you, or was it gradual over a couple three days and all of a sudden it was you woke up you said “Wow this hurt way more than it did yesterday.”

D: Well actually what happened is about the 3 months prior to that excruciating pain I started noticing a pressure building up in my pelvic area, but because I work really long hours and I would be sitting in the office often 16, sometimes 18 hours a day in front of a computer, I just attributed the pressure I was feeling just to the lack of movement and I didn’t think it was anything more than that.

N: A while ago you were talking about the vagueness of the symptoms. If you did experience anything like that I mean not that, I mean not that you did I’m just saying anyone who does, they could be associated with so many other things that are actually common to folks at varying ages of their life and all sorts of other factors. So even if the symptoms were experienced, you might think they were something totally different and not consider ovarian cancer or cancer of any type for that matter for quite a while.

D: That’s exactly right. I know a people who have ovarian cancer and they were initially sent off to see the GI doctor because they were thinking that they had Irritable Bowel Syndrome or colitis or something like that.

N: During this time you are now a health coach, as a matter of fact. You were sitting at your desk for long hours, did you have a period of time during your day or your week where you were doing vigorous exercising at all?

D: Well yeah, I did. Being in the Air Force they do want you to maintain physical fitness since we were tested once a year. And so I would during my lunch time try to take a break at which point I would go to the gym and either go jogging or weight lifting, but I think overall, it was not enough not to make up for all the times that I was sitting.

N: So I guess what I’m getting at is you were at the height of your career you feel absolutely healthy, you’re exercising probably more than most of us are doing simply because you’re in that environment and you want to be healthy. And everything is going absolutely great and there is no indication of anything at all being wrong, until you slipped in the ice.

D: That is correct. I thought I was extremely healthy because I was also a National Certified Fitness Instructor for 8 years. And so I paid attention to what I was eating, I exercise, I didn’t drink soda pop or any of the junk foods, I ate what I thought was a very clean diet. And so I was very shocked, but then when I look back at some of the different environmental toxic exposures that I had, I think some of it actually made sense now because I know I was exposed to nuclear radiation just working in the lab and also with pesticide exposure, which I actually have documented on my medical records.

N: So basically the environment that you were in, some of the things that you were working on could have quite easily exposed you to some carcinogenic substances throughout your career contributing to this ovarian cancer?

D: Yes. In fact I did a little bit of research even on the vaccines that we have to get that are mandatory in the military. And one of them was the h1n1, the swine flu and my understanding is that there are some definite correlations there between just how they extract, how they create the vaccine and comes out you know these African monkeys, and these monkeys actually have cancer for our cells in them.

N: So I’m hoping that you’ll tell us a little bit why you’re referred to in many circles as a “medical miracle?”

D: Sure, well mainly because my condition with the ovarian cancer it basically deteriorated to the point where I had “peritoneal carcinoma” that the peritoneal lining showed just a few spread of the disease. And in fact when I first started out, there was a tumor in my lung, I had a tumor on my left leg as well. And when it got to the point where my lungs collapsed and filled with fluid, my doctors lost hope for my survival and I was placed on a hospice care at that point on oxygen, because I was really struggling to breathe. And my oncologist told me I had a month left to live and so it was just you of those things where all of my doctors really did not believe I was going to survive much longer. And so when I was sick I actually decided because I was trying to learn and research on my own to see what I could do to turn this around, so I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and just began to study all the different dietary theories. And looking at the whole mind body connection because it was easy for me to gravitate towards through nutrition because as a scientist I could easily understand those concepts but then it was harder for me to really deal with the emotional area. But I found that at a certain point I felt like I had plateaued and I had to do further work in order to continue to heal. And so that’s when I looked into trying to resolve any and all emotional conflicts that I feel like weren’t resolve. And I just think that’s really important for anyone that’s looking at heal holistically from a life threatening illness especially.

N: As we wrap up, could you tell us about your foundation Keynotes to life LLC? Talk a little bit about the mission of this Foundation is.

D: Okay, the mission of Keynotes to Life is to inspire people to become leaders. And when I say leaders, I don’t mean just in the business or military sense but even as personal leaders so that they can take authority and responsibility over their health. And so part of my mission is really to educate people, to let them know that there are alternatives to conventional medical treatments. And often these holistic and alternative ways don’t have the negative side effects of a conventional treatment. Now certainly there are times when a conventional treatment is going to be needed. Anytime I think of crises and accidents there’s no better care than our conventional western medicals system. But if we’re looking at trying to maintain health and wellness then there’s just a myriad of different methods of healing and maintaining health. And so that’s the main mission is to spread awareness, to educate, and also to coach people one on one or to give inspirational talks just to get people to be thinking along these lines.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio this afternoon speaking with Deanna Won, Founder of Keynotes to Life, speaking about how she survived ovarian cancer through changing her diet. How going along about her life, everything was fine, she was extremely healthy and also a fitness coach at the time – how ovarian cancer can strike. It’s known as the “whispering cancer” I do believe you said Deanna. Whispering cancer.

D: Yes. It’s either the cancer that whispers or that the silent cancer.

N: The silent cancer and for very good reason. And she’s also a former US Air Force Colonel and Physicist of over 26 years. And hopefully she’s going to come back and speak with us at a later time and tell us a little bit more about her story and her mission as the founder of Keynotes to Life. It’s been great talking with you this afternoon Deanna.

D: Oh it was great talking to you too, Neal. Thank you very much.

N: Thank you. Transcript and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.