Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Advocating for Ovarian Cancer

It sounds strange to say that we are advocating for ovarian cancer... but that is what creating awareness is all about. I scour a lot of blogs written by women who are living with ovarian cancer. The thing that sticks out about many of the women's personal stories is how they missed their symptoms at first. Even more startling is how their physician also missed or discounted ovarian cancer symptoms. Then months go by. And in those months, the ovarian cancer is growing and spreading... because why would any body be concerned about a little gut trouble or bloating?

That is why we need to be ovarian cancer advocates to talk about this with other women and empower women to be their own self-advocate if those subtle symptoms start to creep up. Because it can happen to any woman. Cancer history or no cancer history.

Self-advocacy does not mean that you have to climb up on a soapbox or sign up to give presentations in your local service club circuit. In the personal context, it means that you arm yourself with information to feel comfortable about being proactive and communicating clearly about your health concerns. It ultimately means that you are taking responsibility and assuming some control of your life when you have that nagging question in your head about "is there something wrong with me?"

We are all ovarian cancer advocates – families, friends, nurses, doctors and caregivers. No one should be shy about being concerned about their health.

I have run across many great organizations that are great about spreading awareness of Ovarian Cancer:

  • Teal Toes 
  • Ovations for the Cure 
  • Teal Diva 
  • Norma Leah Foundation
  • Ovar'coming Together 
Please add your voice to the mix!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Happy Mothers Day Weekend!

Me and mom at Race for the Cure in Peoria.
Mom and I took a short road trip to Peoria this weekend to participate in the Race for the Cure in celebration of my cousin Laurie who had a mastectomy in January. Laurie has a great chance as they found the cancer right away and were able act quickly and remove all of in in surgery. She has no trace of cancer left in her body! It is a great thing to celebrate - how far cancer detection (in some cancers) has come in the last two decades. Watching Laurie in the sea of pink shirts was very intense as I had a true scope of the impact. Now that I have a family member who has had breast cancer it is all different to me now.

I was also celebrating mom this weekend as she was a true trooper and walked the entire 5K course with her sister (Rosemary), cousin Alaina and cousin Melinda and her daughters. We had a great time hanging out and had a thought that we should do that more often.

I added a streak of teal to my hair for mom and also for cousin Heather who couldn't be with us that morning. Her cancer fight is not over just yet... she is now starting another heavy round of chemo. I pray for her every day and hope that she can have the same success that my mom has had over these last few years. That is all we want - more time to spend around those we love and care about.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

BEATing Ovarian Cancer: World Ovarian Cancer Day, May 8

My mom Barb and cousin Heather, 2014

Tomorrow, May 8, is World Ovarian Cancer Day. Why is this important? Because the two pretty ladies you see here had no reason to suspect they had ovarian cancer – there was no family history, and their subtle symptoms were no cause for immediate alarm and they were both diligent in getting their annual checkups (which detected nothing abnormal). Yet, both were diagnosed with ovarian cancer very late in the game – Stage III. That is too late.
Tomorrow, World Ovarian Cancer Day is all about creating awareness for Ovarian Cancer symptoms as THERE IS NO EARLY DETECTION method for ovarian cancer. We have early detection screenings for cervical cancer (pap smear), or breast cancer (mammogram and self exam), but right now the only thing women have to rely on to catch Ovarian Cancer is their own self-awareness about what their body is doing and feeling. 
So take the time to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Be ready to ask your general physician if they take into consideration the possibility of ovarian cancer the next time a woman comes in and complains about bloating, bowel issues, eating less but feeling fuller, etc. Yes, you can ask your doctor what they know and what their experience has been. That question alone may save your life and the lives of other women like my mom and cousin who have no family history of cancer. 
One of our local ovarian cancer foundations, the Norma Leah Foundation, has a great campaign that makes it really easy to commit the ovarian cancer symptoms to memory - it's called the BEAT campaign: 
  • Bloating that is persistent 
  • Eating less, feeling fuller
  • Abdominal and/or back pain
  • Trouble with your bladder or bowels
It's easy to remember B-E-A-T and they also offer cards that you can keep on your mirror. 

Also take the time to visit the World Ovarian Cancer Day web site at