Survivor Stories: Ovarian Cancer
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2012, about 22,280 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed and 15,500 women will die of ovarian cancer in the United States.
These statistics are not in alignment with statistics of other cancers in the United States, whose death rates are decreasing rapidly.
Why does ovarian cancer pose such a threat to women?
The American Cancer Society believes that there is not enough emphasis on early recognition of ovarian cancer because it is a “rare” cancer, affecting only 3% of cancers in women. Ovarian cancer gets overlooked in research and development. Also, the initial stages of ovarian cancer are hard to catch. There are not many cutting-edge developments to find ovarian cancer in the early stages. Ovarian cancer is lethal if it is not caught early.
Despite all of that, there are hopeful stories and testimonials, including that of our Shannon Miller.
There are women who have overcome ovarian cancer, and women on the forefront of attempting to get the attention of the major medical community, for more emphasis of early recognition.
“My own story began on New Year’s Day 2006 when I experienced severe abdominal pain that landed me in the ER in the middle of the night. Many tests, needle sticks and barium ingestions later, I was told I had a cyst that burst on my right ovary. ‘Nothing to worry about,’ I was assured, but told to follow up with my gynecologist about it. That follow up led to the discovery that the cyst had returned and to many months of watching to see what it would do. Finally, surgery was deemed necessary to remove the bugger, and pathology revealed that it was cancer. More surgery and six rounds of chemo took away my summer and fall that year.
“The end of treatment began a new era for me, one that included advocacy and connecting with the larger cancer community through a variety of sources. On my one-year ‘cancerversary’, I began a blog called A Single Cell. Each month I would post about some aspect of being single and dealing with cancer. I was thrilled last fall when a publisher found my blog and offered to turn it into a book. I am completing final edits now and ‘My Dance With Cancer: A Solo Survivor’s Guide to Life, Love, Health & Happiness’ will be released next spring.”
Gail was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 16 years ago, following the death of her mother and her grandmother from the disease. She was immediately put into a study that included two autologous stem cell transplants. An autologous stem cell transplant will remove the patient’s stem cells to help retain their strength while the body undergoes rigorous chemotherapy and radiation treatment. After these treatments, the stem cells are put back into the body so that it can begin to heal.
“I just finished 15 months of chemo to kick Ovarian Cancer’s butt. I would love to help you get the word out about symptoms. I’ve started the SHOUT Against the Whisper! campaign because the symptoms of OC are mere whispers in a woman’s busy, noisy life and I will SHOUT about them until every woman knows what the whispers sound like.
“I am an author, a teal warrior, and a mom of three wonderful kids. And I’m doing whatever I can to further awareness and raise research funds to find a cure so this sneaky, vicious stealer of wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and girlfriends is stopped.”
Heather blogs about her journey with cancer and post-cancer on HeatherMcCollum.com