Today, February 4th is World Cancer Day. I imagine that most people have been touched by cancer in one way or another. They may have had cancer themselves, or been through this life-changing event with a loved one. Perhaps you know a neighbor, church member, or student who has had cancer. Thankfully, with today’s advances in medicine the prognosis for cancer patients is improving. However, it all depends on catching the cancer early.
In January 2009, my father was diagnosed with late-stage throat cancer. he had ignored the signs and would not see a doctor until the cancer was quite advanced. By mid-February we said our final goodbyes at his memorial service. Later that same year, I too was diagnosed with cancer, fortunately my outcome was different. I knew something was wrong, but not what and went through test after test, all with negative results until an ultra-sound finally uncovered what was wrong; I had bilateral ovarian cancer.
Today, I consider myself one of the lucky ones in that my cancer was discovered at stage 2, which is still an early stage. Only 20% of all women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at an early state. Yet, an early diagnosis means a world of difference and an amazing 94% 5-year survival rate. Unfortunately, there are no tests for early detection. Instead, it is important to know the symptoms and your body.
Signs & Symptoms:
- Vaginal bleeding or discharge from your vagina that is not normal for you.
- Pain in the pelvic or abdominal area (the area below your stomach and between your hip bones).
- Back pain.
- Feeling full quickly while eating.
- A change in your bathroom habits, such as having to pass urine very badly or very often, constipation, or diarrhea.
If you experience one or a combination of these symptoms, and they persist for several weeks then you should see your doctor for an evaluation. Being aware may save your life or the life of another woman.
For more information on ovarian cancer, please visit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) or the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA). You may also click on the link below to open a PDF file with information provided by NOCC.