Caly Bevier was just 15 years old when she developed a strange set of symptoms. She felt bloated and nauseated. At first, she just dismissed the illness. Then the discomfort came to a head at the end of a family vacation in Orlando, Florida. Caly could tell that something just wasn’t right.
The Bowling Green, Ohio, girl went to her doctor, who arrived at the obvious conclusion: Caly was pregnant. That couldn’t be, Caly insisted.
“[The doctor] said the only other thing it could be is a tumor on your ovaries,” Caly told People. “And I said, ‘That’s what it has to be, then.'”
Sadly, Caly was right. Her doctor found a 5-pound tumor in her gut. Caly had ovarian cancer. By the time she sought treatment, she was already in stage 3.
What followed will be familiar to anyone who’s faced cancer themselves or has seen a loved one through it: three months of chemotherapy, for a total of 21 exhausting treatments. She also had an ovary and a fallopian tube removed.
In the end, the treatments were worth any amount of discomfort. Caly was in remission.
During her months-long battle with ovarian cancer, Caly lost her hair, but not her fighting spirit. She met another young patient battling cancer in the hospital, and the aspiring entertainer sang a benefit concert for him.
Her dad filmed her singing “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten and the video went viral.
Next thing she knew, Caly was on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and America’s Got Talent, in which she proceeded all the way to the semi-final round. In a roundabout way, Caly’s cancer introduced her to her dream.
“It made me realize I wanted to pursue a career in music,” Caly told People when she was 17.
She’s got a pretty good start. A few years after her cancer went into remission, Caly moved to L.A. to pursue her career. By January 2017, she had a manager and songwriters—some of whom have previously worked with big names like Jason Derulo and Katy Perry.
Caly is using her new platform as an entertainer to spread the word about the dangers of ovarian cancer.
Hers was a rare form of the illness, but she wants everyone to know that the disease can strike anywhere. If it can happen to a 15-year-old competitive cheerleader from the Midwest, it can happen to anyone.
“I had a lump growing in my stomach for a year and I just ignored it,” she said. “I didn’t really think anything of it because it wasn’t a problem.”
Caly isn’t alone in missing the signs of her disease. Dagmar Stein, Director of Pediatric Hematology Oncology at ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital, was in charge of Caly’s treatment. Stein told People why it’s so hard to spot the symptoms early.
“Caly’s is a very rare form of ovarian cancer. There are some symptoms—pain in the back and abdomen, burning urination, and some constipation…but the symptoms are very nonspecific and that’s why ovarian cancer is very difficult to pick up. You won’t feel anything until the cancer is large and that’s why it can be so deadly for women.”
Caly has been cancer free for two years, but she’ll never forget the battle for her life. She’s devoted to raising awareness about ovarian cancer, particularly in young women.
To that end, she recently performed at a fundraising event called Catwalk for a Cause.
NASCAR driver Martin Truex sponsored the event through his charitable organization, the Martin Truex Junior Foundation. Truex organized the first Catwalk for a Cause in 2009 with the goal of raising funds to combat pediatric cancer.
The yearly event took on even more special significance three years ago, when Truex’s girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Since then, the Catwalk for a Cause has raised money for both pediatric cancer and ovarian cancer—and Caly had both.
“She’s unbelievable and it’s cool for me [to have her perform] because she’s an ovarian cancer survivor,” Pollex told People. “We were both Stage 3. But now we’re both survivors and even our hair is about the same length. She’s just amazing.”
Caly was just as pleased to play the fundraiser.
“I want to make people aware of cancer through my music,” Caly said. “I tell my story to inspire other people to want to keep fighting and live their life to fullest.”
If you have a family history of ovarian cancer, ask your doctor if there’s anything you can do to decrease the risk.
Your doctor might prescribe birth control pills, which can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 50 percent after five years of treatment. As with any health care decision, start by talking to your doctor about the risks.
Be on the lookout for symptoms. They’re subtle, but if you have abdominal discomfort, changes in appetite or bowel movements, bloating, unexplained weight loss, or nausea, it’s a good idea to tell your doctor.
To support the Martin Truex Junior Foundation in their mission to fund research on childhood and ovarian cancer, as well as family support programs, visit their website here.