Letter: Be aware of ovarian cancer
September is a wonderful month here in the Roaring Fork Valley, with a hint of fall in the air and the leaves beginning to change to gorgeous reds and gold. There is another color that is special during this month: teal. Why? September also is National Ovarian Cancer awareness month, something near and dear to my heart, and the color of this cancer is teal.
When my mom was dying from this dreadful disease, I promised her I would not give up the fight. Since there is no successful screen for this cancer, awareness is key. I plan to host an Ovarian Cancer Awareness Friendship Walk in September 2016. Stay tuned for information next year.
In addition, I want to share with you the following information:
What makes ovarian cancer so unspeakably dangerous is that it is hardest to detect in its early stages. Sadly, only about 19 percent of cases are diagnosed before the cancer has spread outside of the ovaries, when the disease is most responsive to treatment.
To complicate matters, the ovaries are tiny organs buried deep within the abdomen, making the symptoms originating from them all the more difficult to detect and all the more likely to be confused for something far less serious. The more progressed the disease, the more pronounced the symptoms are likely to be.
The most common symptoms include:
• Pelvic or abdominal pain
• Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
• Urinary urgency or frequency
Although these symptoms can also be indicative of benign conditions, they can suggest the presence of cancers in other organs. Symptoms that are out of the ordinary for you and that persist almost daily for two weeks or more should be brought to the immediate attention of your gynecologist and preferably a gynecological oncologist.
It is imperative that women advocate for themselves. Do not let any (uninformed) professionals brush you off. My mother was misdiagnosed by four doctors and was finally diagnosed at stage IV. Sadly, by then it was too late. Do not let this happen to you. Enjoy September in good health.
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