‘I felt scared’: United flight attendant blindsided by ovarian cancer diagnosis after having her ovaries removed

Here's what we know

HOUSTON – Dima Kourdie is a flight attendant instructor.

When you think of the most terrifying emergencies, she’s prepared: emergency evacuations, fires in flight, heart attacks, etc.

She’s prepared for many emergencies, but she wasn’t prepared for cancer at just 21 years old.

“I felt pity for myself. I felt scared. I did not panic,” Kourdie said. “I said, ‘you know what cancer, you messed with the wrong girl.’”

She beat cancer at that time, salvaged some eggs before having her ovaries removed, and still was able to have triplets.

While that is miraculous, the cancer unfortunately returned when she was in her 40s.

“My oncologist, she came in with the file and she said, ‘I’m so sorry, you have ovarian cancer.’ I laughed. I laughed. I thought she had somebody else somebody else’s file because I said, ‘I don’t have ovaries, I haven’t had ovaries in such a long time. You have somebody else’s file.’ She said, ‘I know, I’m really sorry,’” Kourdie said.

According to Texas Oncology, an estimated 1,783 Texas women will be diagnosed this year.

Statistically, fewer than half survive.

Nicole Andrews with the STAAR Ovarian Cancer Foundation said the only way to improve those odds is to fund research. Research is important, for example, it could potentially find a biomarker, a screening test or better treatments.

“We need to raise money, at this point, so that researchers are able to do the research that we really need them to do for treatments, and then eventually we need money so we can have some sort of screening test,” Andrews explained.

Right now, there’s no annual screening. Ovarian cancer is not detected with an annual Pap test.

Women need to know the symptoms.

Luckily, Andrews and Kourdie did and are both doing well.

“I’m here for awareness, but I’m also here for hope,” Kourdie said.

“You shouldn’t ever be living in pain and discomfort, that’s not normal,” Andrews said.

Symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Frequent urination
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Feeling full quickly

Check the STAAR symptom test to see if you should talk to your doctor: Symptoms - STAAR OVARIAN CANCER FOUNDATION (staaroc.org)