Belvidere nurse becomes a patient after discovering her own cancer

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BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — A Rockford nurse found herself on the receiving end of treatment after she discovered cancerous tumor during a self-exam.

Everything changed for Erica Hoyer last summer. Hoyer works as an advanced nurse practitioner at SwedishAmerican’s Belvidere Clinic.

“After about a week of having urinary frequency, I was actually able to feel a pelvic mass through my abdomen,” she recalled. “Then I approached my physician.”

Hoyer’s doctor delivered the bad news, diagnosing her with Stage One ovarian cancer.

“Initially, you see your life flash before your eyes,” she said, recalling the moment.

But then, her medical background kicked in.

“This is early stage,” she told herself. “This is treatable. At that point, you just have to start thinking: what’s next?”

Now seven months after her diagnosis, and two surgeries and six rounds of chemotherapy later, Hoyer is cancer free.

“I had a great support system,” she said. “I think if it weren’t for my work family, or my family, it would have been really difficult. But I had a great support system.”

Hoyer says she wants to share her story of survival to give hope to other patients.

“I think it’s important for them to know that illness happens to [medical] providers. For me, as a provider and a survivor, to share my story with patients, I continue to do that on a daily basis,” she said.

As a nurse, Hoyer knew what symptoms to look for, but she says not all of her patients would have.

“Anyone can develop ovarian cancer,” she insisted. “We should be aware of that. And this is the 11th most common cancer in women, and it is the 5th leading cause of cancer deaths among women.”

That’s why Hoyer is teaching women to become their own health advocates.

“That’s what helped me with my early detection. I found my own [cancer]. I presented it to my provider. I sought out the help I needed, and that’s why I’m here today,” she said.

Hoyer is cancer free, but still receives treatment. She says her daughter inspired her to focus on her recovery.

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