Unless you have been lost somewhere behind the moon for the last few decades, you will readily recognize the single-crossed pink ribbon that stands for “Breast Cancer Awareness!”
It has become popular in many forms including jewelry, clothing, and even coffee mugs.
There are annual races and fund raisers “for the cure” of breast cancer throughout America.
October is “National Breast Cancer Awareness month,” where women are annually reminded of the importance of getting those mammograms and doing those monthly checks.
A woman’s best friend and breast cancer’s worse enemy is early detection. So as it is with ovarian cancer.
As the old adage goes, “A stitch in time saves nine!”
With increased awareness and better treatments, women are winning their battles against breast cancer.
Nevertheless, ovarian cancer is another cancer that affects and kills women, and it is far more difficult to recognize and treat if the diagnosis is not made in the early stages.
Often women mistakenly think that the annual Papp exam puts them in the clear of this type of cancer - if the test comes back negative. This test does not detect or rule out ovarian cancer. If left undetected and untreated early, this is a very progressive form of cancer.
While as of yet there are no easy ways to detect early ovarian cancer, there are signs that should not be ignored. Ultra sound is the best test available to show this type of cancer. Perhaps, women should also receive an annual ultra-sound at the time of their mammogram. It would seem this measure would as important for health as the Papp and mammogram.
The Mayo Clinic lists these signs and symptoms:
“Symptoms of ovarian cancer are not specific to the disease, and they often mimic those of many other more-common conditions, including digestive problems.
Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling or bloating
- Pelvic discomfort or pain
- Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
- Changes in bladder habits, including a frequent need to urinate
- Loss of appetite or quickly feeling full
- Increased abdominal girth or clothes fitting tighter around your waist
- A persistent lack of energy
- Low back pain
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
If you have a family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, talk to your doctor about your risk of ovarian cancer.
In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a genetic counselor to discuss testing for certain gene mutations that increase your risk of breast and ovarian cancers.”
However, do not feel “safe” if you have no other family members with this type of cancer. Advice for all women is to stay as healthy as possible, have a good immune system – don’t smoke – don’t allow yourself to be exposed to known cancer causing chemicals and agents.
But most importantly exercise, eat well, sleep well, avoid stress as much as possible. While good health practices may not prevent any type of cancer, it will make you stronger if you ever do have it.
Below is a personal testimony of a long time friend of this writer who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her warning to family and friends. She is now preparing to undergo extensive chemo treatments. She wants her story told in hopes that it will help other women. You can help by sharing her story.
“For all my lady friends!! Get your yearly check-ups, but also remember that a Papp smear can NOT detect ovarian cancer.
If you ever have symptoms similar to having an ovarian cyst (cramping on one particular side, bloating, pressure and even pain...... DON'T wait to go to the doctor AND demand an ultra sound!!!
I actually went to a GYN with those symptoms and he did NOT do an ultra sound!! He did a biopsy on my uterus which came back normal (cancer had actually spread to outside my uterus) and gave me pills to take for ten days and said I would be FINE! On day eight I messaged them through their portal saying I was worse and was told finish the meds and you will be fine.
That was FIVE weeks before I had major surgery!! Two weeks after seeing him I could not even get my pants buttoned and I had fluid on my stomach and was in excruciating pain. I was on vacation at the time away from my hometown. I was taken to that out-of-town ER. The doctor discovered the problem.
A week later, I changed doctors and went to a woman’s center where I had another ultra sound. The ultra sound revealed a huge mass in my abdomen.
Several weeks later when I had surgery, it had already increased in size. By that time, I had 2 liters of fluid from the cancer in my abdominal cavity that had to be drained!
If my first gynecologist had ordered an ultra sound, he would have found it much earlier. Since ovarian cancer is an aggressive and fast growing cancer, this would have made the difference between stage 2 and now stage 3.
All this to say that had he done an ultra sound, he would have found it much earlier and it could have been the difference between stage 2 and stage 3 cancer and I did NOT have 2 liters of fluid at that time!
SO don't blow off symptoms! Ovarian cancer goes un-diagnosed in most cases until it is stage 3 or 4.
After seeing two more doctors, both of which asked if the first had ordered an ultra-sound, they indicated that he should have.
So I just feel it necessary to share this and hopefully spare someone what I am going through as this all happened so fast and has totally changed our lives.
God has been so good to me and my family through this "storm" and I know that He can use this to His glory and one way is for me to speak out and help other women.”
Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully it will help or even possibly save someone!!” Used by permission - name withheld by request.
Please share this with everyone.
Women will rush to share the latest shoe store sale, the latest recipe, or the latest gossip. Now they should start the rumor against cancer and share this and all information with family and friends as this young lady has done.
Sound the alarm, talk to your mother, sister, aunt, granddaughter, and women in general to help them be aware that breast cancer is not the only intruder against women’s health.
You can start by sharing this story with all the women in your life and asking them to do the same. The key for the cure is early detection.
From now on when you see the “teal blue/green” ribbon you will know that is used/worn as an awareness tool for women who may have or who may one day have ovarian cancer. It could be you or someone you love.
There are many products at this “Choose Hope” site specially made for ovarian cancer awareness.
For more information go to the American Cancer Society's page.