May 8, 2013: today is the first official World Ovarian Cancer Day.
Did you know that ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of gynecologic cancers? Almost a quarter million women are diagnosed each year and it is responsible for 140,000 deaths.
It is important to know the symptoms, which are often misdiagnosed. Do you know what they are? From the World Ovarian Cancer Day website:
- Increased abdominal size / persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
- Difficulty eating/feeling full quickly
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Needing to pass urine more urgently or more frequently
Early diagnosis greatly increases a woman’s chance of survival, however, women are usually diagnosed at a late stage as often the symptoms are attributed to menopause or digestive issues. This is all so familiar to me.
My mother’s story
Those of you who have been following my blog for a while already know that my mother is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed less than a year ago, in June ’12.
Just like described above, she thought her discomfort and swollen belly were related to digestive issues. She was experiencing abdominal pain on her left side and frequently had to use the bathroom. A colonoscopy was scheduled to investigate what in her GI tract was causing this problem. The doctor was unable to complete the procedure – in the five months since her last abdominal/vaginal ultrasound, a tumor developed in her left ovary and grew so large (the size of a balled-up fist) that it restricted the large intestine.
The initial surgery removed a few outlying lumps, but majority of the mass was left intact. As of today, she completed six chemo treatments in Fall ’12 and five of six treatments in Spring ’13. Her doctors are optimistic and believe that her prognosis is good.
I’m scared. Our small family is devastated. My mother is weak and in pain. My father is struggling to support her physically, mentally, and emotionally. My sister (and her son) moved in with my parents to help however she can. I am helplessly watching and trying to support them all from thousands of miles away. I have hope that she will beat those awful odds that are against her.
Ladies, please talk to your doctor. Start those ultrasounds if you aren’t already doing them, especially if breast and/or ovarian cancer are prevalent in your family.
So very important to insist on an ultrasound when you have these symptoms.. Keeping a diary of symptoms for two weeks can help the Doctor to identify the need for an ultrasound…. Don’t let them tell you have just got irritable bowel ….. Get an ultrasound….
Yes! When in doubt, request an ultrasound. Thanks, Helen.
Reblogged this on My Eyes Are Up Here.
Would a regular smear show up any ovarian cancer cells because I have all these symptoms but my smear was clear last month…
According to Fact 5 on the Ovarian Cancer Day website: Many women mistakenly believe a cervical smear test (or Pap test) will detect ovarian cancer. It does not. It detects pre-cancerous changes to cells of the cervix, which is treated much more successfully than ovarian cancer.
Louise, I would suggest that you discuss your symptoms with your OB-GYN and request an ultrasound. Better safe than sorry!
It’s great you’re getting the word out. So sorry for all you and your family and mom are going through. xxoo
Thank you. ❤
Reblogged this on lights cancer action! and commented:
This was such an important message, I wanted to share it on my blog.
Reblogged this on My Lymph Node Transplant and commented:
Such an important message that every women needs to know…
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Thank you for posting this important message. My mum tried for over a year to get her Canadian doctors to listen to her “vague complaints” – meanwhile her cancer grew and grew. Eventually, I brought her down here to the States, where she saw a doctor and got into surgery in two weeks’ time. This bought her an extra four years of life. The doctors in Canada wouldn’t even give her a proper diagnosis, they said “let’s wait and see.”
Thank you for sharing. It is so important to get the word out about this. Unfortunately not all doctors have a good understanding of this disease. In some cases you (or your family) have to be your own advocate as you were for your mother. ❤
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It is so important to do vaginal sonograms. I do mine 2x a year (also due to Tamoxifen). I wish I can remove everything but I don’t have any kids yet and they suggest I wait until I am 42 (at least) to remove ovaries. I am too young, still. Ugh. Decisions…
I am sorry about your mom.
I 100% agree on the ultrasounds. That reminds me that I need to schedule my appointment. 🙂 How are you doing on the Tamoxifen?
Yes, please do the ultrasound. What I find weird is that Sloan (my hospital) doesn’t follow up patients with sonograms because they say it doesn’t make a difference in survivor rate? I still get them done 2x a year through another GYN. I am not taking this risk. No way! I am doing well with tamoxifen, for now. I started with depression which is one of the side effects but after about 3-6 months it went away. I often wonder if it is working since I am doing so well on it. As long as it is, I am cool. And of course, I am happy I am tolerating the drug. Thank you for asking.