National Ovarian Cancer Month...Know the symptoms!

September is National Ovarian Cancer Month. As an ovarian cancer survivor I can tell you for a fact how easily mis-diagnosed this cancer is, especially among young woman. I had over a dozen doctors over a 6 month period tell me that my fatigue was due to: working FT, going to grad school, training for a triathlon; that my stomach pain was due to: PMS symptoms and "normal" cramping; and that my stomach complaints were due to the fact that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (which I didn't have).
Luckily, I listened to my body (and my MOM) and went to another OB-GYN, who fortunately did all the right things - did an ultrasound immediately, ordered a CA 125 blood test and had me get a CT-SCAN on Friday night at 9pm at the hospital in Boulder. Low and behold I had a grapefruit size tumor on my left ovary and other spots elsewhere. On Monday morning I was having my pre-op surgical appointment in Denver with a doc from the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. There was no time to waste - ovarian cancer spreads quickly. They call it the silent killer because to a certain degree the symptoms are common. So listen to your body and find a doctor who will listen to YOU.


* Listen to your body, do not ignore symptoms and have an annual rectovaginal pelvic exam
- Vague but persistent gastrointestinal complaints such as gas, nausea, and indigestion
- Frequency and/or urgency of urination
- Unexplained change in bowel habits
- Pelvic and/or abdominal swelling and/or pain; bloating and/or a feeling of fullness
- Weight gain or loss
- On-going fatigue
- Abnormal postmenopausal bleeding
- Pain during intercourse

* If you have a history of ovarian cancer in your family or have one or more of these symptoms, ask for a CA 125 blood test (note: this test is not an exact indicator of ovarain cancer for everyone).

Risk Factors:
• Increasing age, with highest occurrence in women over 50

• Family or personal history of ovarian, breast, endometrial, or colon cancer (only 10% of cases are linked to family history, however)

• Uninterrupted ovulation (having no pregnancies; infertility, low parity)

• Presence of BRCA1 or BRCA 2 gene mutations

* Note: I did not have any of these risk factors. I was 23 and healthy.

A great resource for more information is the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Also, here are some great ways to give to the cause while shopping this month courtesy of Fit Sugar.


jeanette88 said...

Thank you so much for posting this information! I had never really thought that much about ovarian cancer...you always read about breast cancer. Anyway, hope you are well and thanks again!

Anonymous said...

thanks so much for this great info re. ovarian cancer. my aunt died from it several years ago.

lindamay said...

Wow - 23 - that is so young...what treatment did you have to have?

tensign said...

Jenny - you rock! You have come through the fire and are more strong and beautiful than ever! You are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your story.