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Comedy event to raise funds for ovarian cancer research

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The theater masks of tragedy and comedy are well known. One mother has transformed a tragic event into a comedy event to raise funds for ovarian cancer research. The event is being held by the nonprofit Ovarian Cancer Circle, which was founded by Paulinda Babbini after her daughter, Robin Babbini, died of ovarian cancer at age 20. “Happily ever Laughter,” hosted by Bill Riback features comedians July Gold, Cathy Ladman, Steve Mittleman and Wendy Liebman. Proceeds are earmarked for funds to support ovarian cancer research at UCLA, which will be conducted by Dr. Sanaz Memarzadeh in her G.O. Discovery laboratory. The event will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 27, 2014 at the Comedy Store, 8433 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 90069

Robin Babbin was a fulfilled teenager who was co-captain of the cheerleading squad and the homecoming queen at Pacific Hills High School in West Hollywood. However, this idyllic episode of her life turned to tragedy at age 17 when she was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer. Stage III indicates that the growth of the cancer involves one or both ovaries, and one or both of the following are present: (1) the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis to the lining of the abdomen; and (2) the cancer has spread to lymph nodes. The tumor is limited to the true pelvis; however, histology studies document that it has spread to the small bowel or omentum (a fatty membrane in the abdominal cavity).

Robin underwent a total hysterectomy followed by chemotherapy. She was able to complete her high school education and begin her freshman year at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Sadly, the cancer resurfaced six months later and this time it had spread to other organs. She died in 2006.

Tickets are $75 each plus a two drink minimum. VIP reserved booths that seat four are available for $350. Tickets can be purchased by ordering at the Ovarian Cancer Circle site, by calling 323-842-8100 or by emailing Paulinda@theoveriancancercircle.org.

The cause of ovarian cancer is currently unknown. Approximately 22,240 new cases occurred in the US in 2013. Ovarian cancer is the ninth most common form of cancer among women. Its cause is unknown; however, there are certain risk factors that indicate an increase in a woman's chance of developing ovarian cancer. The following have been suggested as risk factors for ovarian cancer:

  • Age (over the age of 55)
  • Obesity
  • Hormone replacement therapy. Some studies have suggested that women who use hormone replacement therapy after menopause may have a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Infertility (inability to become pregnant)
  • Personal history of breast or colon cancer
  • Family history. First-degree relatives (such as mother, daughter, sister) of a woman who has had ovarian cancer are at risk for developing the disease. The risk increases if 2 or more first-degree relatives have had ovarian cancer. A family history of breast or colon cancer is also associated with an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Certain fertility drugs such as Clomid

Suggested preventive measures for ovarian cancer include the following:

  • Healthy diet (high in fruits, vegetables, grains, and low in saturated fat)
  • Staying at a healthy weight throughout life
  • Birth control pills
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Oophorectomy. Surgical removal of ovaries if you're at high risk for ovarian cancer.

Research studies have shown that certain genes are responsible for increasing the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Genetic counseling can tell you whether you have one of these gene mutations. If your family history suggests that you may have one of these gene mutations, you might want to discuss genetic testing with your physician.

The following are the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • General discomfort in the lower abdomen, including any or all of the following:
  • Feeling swollen or bloated
  • A loss of appetite or a feeling of fullness — even after a light meal
  • Gas, indigestion, and nausea
  • Diarrhea or constipation, or frequent urination caused by the growing tumor, which may press on nearby organs, such as the bowel or bladder
  • Feeling very tired all the time
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Buildup of fluid around the lungs, which may cause shortness of breath

If any of these symptoms occur almost daily or last a few weeks and are new, they should be reported to the doctor. In many cases, symptoms do not occur until the ovarian cancer is in an advanced stage, meaning it has spread beyond the ovary in which it started. The symptoms of ovarian cancer may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

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