WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Mary Edwards knew something wasn't right. She just wasn't feeling like herself.
"My voice would go hoarse," Mary recalled. "I'm an avid exerciser. I couldn't do cardio for more than 15 minutes without losing my breath and I could do cardio for up to an hour."
It was unusual but not enough to see a doctor.
Then, she noticed some swelling. That's when she decided she needed to get checked out.
"In January, I had gout on my left foot," she said. "Then in March, I had two blood clots in my legs that moved to my lungs and with the blood clots, I had fluid outside my right lung."
Mary was referred to a pulmonologist. That's when the cancer was discovered.
"He wanted it drained, so we had it drained and the results came back that there was cancer in that fluid," Mary said.
Mary, 56, was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer, the most advanced stage of the disease.
"Of course, when you get the diagnosis, you're never happy when you're told you have cancer but we are addressing it," she said in tears.
In June, she started the first of a series of chemotherapy treatments she and her doctor hope will put the cancer in remission.
Ovarian cancer is called the silent killer because, by the time symptoms present themselves, the disease is typically in the late stages.
The most common symptoms linked to ovarian cancer include pain in the abdomen, bloating, fatigue and weight loss.
Other than fatigue, Mary had none of those warning signs but believes she had other symptoms early on, symptoms she says spoke in whispers.
"My whisper, I would say, was very mild indigestion," she recalled. "I started taking over-the-counter antacid like Tums and I would take them like almost every night."
Mary says she also believes she wasn't listening to her body, something she now urges all women to do.
"I have to say, there was twice when I didn't know I had cancer I said to myself, 'I think I'm very sick,'" she said.
Mary is optimistic about her prognosis despite the reality that she has a very difficult disease to treat.
She gives credit to her husband, John, and family members for helping her stay upbeat.
Mary says the odds may not be in her favor, but her attitude is.
"I just say, 'OK, it's something that I have to do and I listen to my doctor,'" Mary said. "I follow whatever he tells me. I figure, let him treat me and I will do the rest by being strong, being positive and never giving up."