Our good friend and client Denise Fowler is an Ovarian Cancer survivor. We felt if was important to have Denise share here story with all of you. As you know, September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and we want to help everyone understand this terrible disease and we hope you will share this information with the women you love.We hope you’ll take the time to read Denise’s heartfelt story and share it with others.
An Ovarian Cancer Survivor’s Story
by Denise Folwer
If you are a woman or if you know a woman (that should cover everyone!), this information could save a life. One in 58 women in the US have a lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. It is not as rare as we have been led to believe.
In October 2000, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was one of the very few lucky ones with a diagnosis in stage I. After the usual major surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy, I am cancer-free and have been for nearly 15 years. I had no symptoms and no family history for ovarian cancer. My cancer was found by accident.
Ovarian cancer is known as “The Silent Killer” and is the deadliest gynecologic cancer. The symptoms are vague and often confused with other diseases. In fact, many women visit several specialists who look for gastrointestinal causes. 75% of ovarian cancer cases are found in stages III or IV, when the 5-year survival rate is poor. Another important fact to know is that while there may be a family link, that link accounts for about only 10% of cases.
Early symptoms include:
- Pelvic or abdominal cramping, swelling or pain
- Persistent gastrointestinal problems
- Nausea, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea
- Persistent bloating
- Eating less and feeling full
- Urgency or frequency of urination
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Pain during intercourse
- Ongoing fatigue and backaches
While most women have these symptoms from time to time, you know when something is not normal. Please take action and see a doctor and ask about ovarian cancer if any of these symptoms persist more than 2 – 3 weeks. Please don’t be shy about asking questions and getting a second or third opinion! 78% of patients with early stage ovarian cancer diagnosis report the following symptoms most commonly: abdominal / pelvic pain and/or bloated feeling.
A pap test does NOT detect ovarian cancer!
There is no general screening for ovarian cancer. If you have persistent symptoms noted above, please ask your gynecologist to do a transvaginal ultrasound and CA-125 blood test.
Most importantly, take charge of your health care. Had I not taken charge, I would not be here today … and would not have had the opportunity for Candice to always work her magic! One thing I learned after losing my hair was to never complain about a bad hair day.
In memory of my friends Harva, Nancy, Chris and Crispin, and the countless other women who lost their battles with ovarian cancer and left this world much too soon, thank you for passing this message along to the women in your lives.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or to talk