Today’s guest post is from the blogger behind Legally Fabulous. Please read the post below and pass along to every female you know. And please, if your mother is still with you on this earth, give her a call right now and tell her that you love her.
In October of 2003, my mom made an appointment to see her gynecologist. Despite the fact that she had had a total hysterectomy 10 years earlier, she had been having what she described as “phantom ovary pains.” She said it felt like she was having “time of the month” cramps, but since she had a hysterectomy, this wasn’t normal! Thank God she made an appointment to see her doctor. She went it, told him what was going on, and he immediately ordered an ultrasound.
I was home visiting from college for the weekend when her doctor called her at dinner on Sunday night… never a good sign. He said that he did not like what he had seen on the scan and he had called in to a gynecological oncologist and she needed to see him immediately.
This was three weeks after my sorority sisters mother died of ovarian cancer.
My mother was 45 years old and HAD NO OVARIES. Apparently when your body is forming, cells from your ovaries can flake off and embed in your uterine lining. Or when she had her hysterectomy 10 years prior, they could have left just one single cell of her ovary. That’s all it takes.
Ovarian cancer is not just something that strikes older women. It can happen to anyone. My sorority sisters mother was 49 years old when she died.
My mother was diagnosed with Stage IIIB ovarian cancer. This means that the cancer had spread outside of the ovaries and into the stomach lining. They had to remove a part of her liver and a part of her intestine in the surgery because the cancer had spread. She had two major surgeries, and two rounds of intensive chemotherapy. Due to incredible doctors and the grace of God, she has now been cancer free for 5 years. We are SO lucky. Less than 50% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer live 5 years.
How can you prevent ovarian cancer? Studies have shown that women who have at least 1 child have a lower risk of ovarian cancer. Also, compared to women who have never used them, women who use oral contraceptives for five years or more reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by about 50 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.
Ovarian cancer is called the “silent killer”, because it’s symptoms often go unnoticed or brushed off as being “normal” “woman pains”. This is why it is SO important to know the symptoms and to pay attention to your body.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer include: pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort; vague but persistent gastrointestinal upsets such as gas, nausea, and indigestion; frequency and/or urgency of urination in the absence of an infection; unexplained weight gain or weight loss; pelvic and/or abdominal swelling, bloating and/or feeling of fullness; ongoing unusual fatigue; or unexplained changes in bowel habits.
If symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, ask your doctor for a combination pelvic/rectal exam, CA-125 blood test, and transvaginal ultrasound. A Pap Test WILL NOT detect ovarian cancer.
Bottom line – you have to be your own biggest advocate. If you think that something is wrong – INSIST on getting tested. Your normal annual gynecological exam is not enough. This is your LIFE at stake – don’t take chances!
For more information on ovarian cancer:
Thank you Legally Fabulous for sharing your story with us today!