{ LISTEN to your body }

September is National Ovarian Cancer Month. As an ovarian cancer survivor (Stage III C) - diagnosed when I was 23 years old)....I can tell you for a fact how easily misdiagnosed this cancer is, especially among young woman. I had over a dozen doctors over a 4 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; or that perhaps I had had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (which I didn't have). I even had a doctor tell me it was all in my "head."

Luckily, I listened to my body (and my MOM) and went to another doctor, 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 a hospital in Boulder. Low and behold I had a grapefruit size tumor on my left ovary and other tumors elsewhere. On Monday morning I was having my pre-op surgical appointment in Denver with a surgeon 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.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women. The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,650 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2008 and about 15,520 women will die from the disease. It is an insidious disease that can strike without warning or cause.


* 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 ovarian 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 about Ovarian Cancer is the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

I'm glad I listened to my body - I knew I didn't feel right. That is what saved ME. That is why I am here to be a mom to these 2 wonderful kiddos. It is why I am almost at the 10 year remission point. I am grateful. So very grateful.


Kotori said...

Wow - I had no idea. I was so glad to read your post today, and you are so right to listen to your body. Too many times we associate how we are feeling with just being run down. So glad you are doing well!

Anonymous said...

such good advice. I am so glad that you continued to seek out a answer and didn't accept the first diagnosis.

PS~Erin said...

I am so glad that you are a survivor and I thank you so much for sharing this. Wonderful advice that I will keep with me and pass along. (LOVE the picture!)

Anonymous said...

i'm glad you listened too, and you've been a good listener to me! xoxo

tracie said...

jenny, this is a wonderful post ... thank you for sharing!

and you know it personally touches me, as a reminder that we have to listen to our bodies when no one else is! {and our moms!} ;)

congrats on nearing the 10 year mark ... i feel blessed to be a part of your life ...

heather said...

That is truly amazing Jenny! So glad you were persistent when the doctors were not listening! Yikes!

Thank you for this post...this information is so important to share with other women!!! Thank you for sharing your story!