Last week, I got together with some fabulous Houston ladies for a short photoshoot to promote Judy’s Mission and increase awareness of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The shoot was organized by Megan Silianoff, who is the hilarious creative genius behind Megan Silianoff Writes (specifically books and a hilarious blog – Greetings from TX). Meg is an ovarian cancer survivor, which she discusses in her book 99 Problems but a Baby Ain’t One (it’s on my nightstand, up next to be read!).
Next month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which you’ll realize as soon as October 1st rolls around, as pink license plates, banners, t-shirts, etc. start appearing everywhere you look. This is amazing. There is so much funding and research taking place to help cure breast cancer – which makes sense, as it accounts for almost 25% of all cancers. I personally have close friends who are survivors and also know of friends who have lost their mother’s to this terrible disease and am impressed by all of the research taking place.
Less well advertised is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (which is taking place right now!). And although the disease is more rare compared to the aforementioned breast cancer, the survival rates are lower and less people are aware of the symptoms (hence not self-diagnosing as well as those with breast cancer).
“According to the National Cancer Institute, roughly 21,290 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in 2015 – yet 14,180 women will also die. The five-year survival rate for the disease is just 45.6 percent, compared to breast cancer’s roughly 90 percent. Often, since early-stage symptoms of the cancer are very mild, we don’t catch ovarian cancer until it’s too late. In 61 percent of cases diagnosed, the cancer has metastasized, which reduces five-year survival rates to just 27.4 percent.” – Shape.com
A common misconception about ovarian cancer is that women think gynocologists can detect the disease from a pap smear, which is incorrect. To be screened for ovarian cancer, you can take the CA-125 blood test, which measures the levels of a protein that may be elevated in around 80 percent of ovarian cancer cases.
Also, if you have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, you also might want to get tested for the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes. The percent chances of developing ovarian cancer are much higher for people who carry these genes. If you are a carrier, preventative surgeries to remove the Fallopian tubes or ovaries are options. Besides these tests, there are no other early detection tests, which will hopefully change soon with the research taking place.
One of the greatest benefits about an awareness campaign is to spread information about the symptoms. Early symptoms of ovarian cancer might include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, getting full quickly while eating, appetite changes, weight loss or gain, and pressure on the bladder. If you experience any of these for a week or more and they feel abnormal for your body, trust your instincts and go to your doctor to get checked out. You won’t regret it!
Now it’s your turn to talk. Have you or anyone you know been impacted by Ovarian Cancer? Did you know that this was Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month?
Sweet Macy and Isla (who is covered in spilled coffee)