September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month


by Roxanne Bright

You have cancer.  There is nothing in the world that can prepare you for those words, but people are impacted by those words on a daily basis.  I was impacted by those words 8 year ago when I was told I have ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women.  Over 22,000 women are diagnosed with the disease every year.  Of those women, we will lose over 14,000.  Those numbers haven’t changed in 30 years.  Symptoms include abdominal bloating, indigestion or nausea, changes in appetite, such as a loss of appetite or feeling full sooner, pressure in the pelvis or lower back, a more frequent or urgent need to urinate and/or constipation, changes in bowel movements, tiredness or low energy and changes in menstruation.  The problem with the symptoms is they are often associated with other medical conditions.  Ovarian cancer is sometimes the last thing a doctor will test for.  There is no early detection test for ovarian cancer.  If you have any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor and talk to them about your concerns.  Listen to your body because you know it better than anyone else does.  If something doesn’t feel right, follow your gut.

The 5-year survival rate for all types of ovarian cancer is 45 percent. People diagnosed before age 65 have a higher survival rate than older individuals. Those diagnosed with early-stage ovarian cancer, specifically, stage 1 ovarian cancer, have a 5-year survival rate of 92 percent. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at this early stage.

I was blessed last year to be chosen to be an Advocacy Leader with the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance.  I have met some incredible women who have been impacted by this dreaded disease.  We took our collective voices to Capitol Hill last year for funding for research, including development of early detection testing.

I read a quote once “cancer may have started the fight, but I will finish it” – and that’s exactly what I intend to do.  I will use my voice to share ovarian cancer awareness and education so that no other woman has to endure fighting this battle.  I won’t rest un-TEAL there’s a cure!