This Saturday morning, I'll be participating in the Walk for the Whisper to raise money for ovarian cancer awareness and research.
I have an aunt with advanced ovarian cancer. She had a heightened index of suspicion for ovarian cancer, since her own mother had died of the disease in the 1960s. She had regular medical examinations, hoping to detect the cancer early if it struck. The state of the art for ovarian cancer screening, however, is terrible. Because there is no reliable way to detect ovarian cancer early (when it is more treatable), many cases have already reached an advanced stage before diagnosis. This was the case for my aunt. She's been battling the disease, and coping with the side effects of treatment, for over two years now, and unfortunately, remission seems unlikely.
My aunt's daughter—my cousin—faces an increased risk of ovarian cancer because of her family history of the disease. Even preventive removal of the ovaries doesn't eliminate the cancer risk, so regular screening and vigilant attention to vague symptoms will remain important for my cousin.
What's also important is an increase in funding for research—to find ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat ovarian cancer—and for awareness—the symptoms tend to be vague, and they don't seem obviously related to the reproductive organs:
· Pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort
· Vague, but persistent gastrointestinal upsets such as gas, nausea, and indigestion
· Frequency and/or urgency of urination in absence of an infection
· Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
· Pelvic and/or abdominal swelling, bloating and/or feeling of fullness
· Ongoing unusual fatigue
· Unexplained changes in bowel habits
If you're a woman, you have symptoms like these that persist for longer than 4 to 6 weeks, and the symptoms don't resolve with normal interventions (e.g., laxatives, diet change, rest), see your physician for a thorough rectovaginal exam so he or she can assess your ovaries.
If you can afford it, please donate here (fill in a donation amount and click "continue") to sponsor me in the Walk for the Whisper. I'm hoping to raise at least $250 in the next few days. Donate for yourself, for your wife, for your sister, for your daughter, for your friends. Thank you.