Throughout my three decades of working in healthcare, I have become a strong advocate for regular cancer screenings and early detection. I hope you will enjoy this blog by my colleague and friend, Candis Armour, and encourage you to share it with all of the special women in your life to prevent unnecessary pain, suffering and deaths due to ovarian cancer.
Las Vegas Solari Hospice Care Recognizes National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
By Candis Armour, R.N., Executive Director, Las Vegas Solari Hospice Care
I’m a big fan of watching the Olympics! I can’t help but marvel at the amazing feats of the world’s most talented athletes, and always enjoy cheering for our U.S. competitors to take home the gold! Sometimes, looking at these young people – in top physical condition – you almost think they are invincible.
That’s why I was a bit jarred when I picked up a newspaper a couple of years ago and read that Shannon Miller, a gold medal-winning gymnast, had been diagnosed with a malignant germ cell tumor, a form of ovarian cancer. At that time, she was only 33 years old. Once again, I was reminded that cancer doesn’t play favorites. It can strike anyone at any time. As Miller has said, “Cancer doesn’t care how many gold medals you have.”
During September, Las Vegas Solari Hospice Care joins with hundreds of organizations around the country in recognizing National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. We are also excited to be a first-time participant in the Owareness Bowl-O-Thon to be held this Sunday, Sept. 15, at the South Point Bowling Alley. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Women’s Cancer Center Foundation for Research. I hope you will come out and join us!
Unfortunately, by the time that I meet ovarian cancer patients in our hospice service, their disease has progressed to its final stages. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed this year and that more than 15,000 women with ovarian cancer will die this year. In women age 35-74, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths. An estimated one woman in 71 will develop ovarian cancer during her lifetime.
Having heard the stories of so many brave women who have battled this disease, I feel compelled to be their voice and take up their fight to remind others that early detection saves lives! Potential signs of ovarian cancer can include: bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, trouble eating or feeling full quickly, and feeling the need to urinate urgently or often. Other symptoms of ovarian cancer can include: fatigue, upset stomach or heartburn, back pain, pain during sex, and constipation or menstrual changes.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please see your physician. When diagnosed and treated in its earliest stages, the five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is over 90%.
Shannon Miller is one of the lucky ones. After surgery to remove a baseball-size tumor and an aggressive nine-week chemotherapy regimen, Miller is now cancer free.
“The good news was that my cancer was caught early,” notes Miller. “We know that no matter what type of cancer we are dealing with, the earlier we catch it, the better our chance of survival. I look back now, and realize I likely did have two or three of the warning signs, however, like many, I either ignored them completely or chalked up my issues to being a busy mom.”
Remember that you are your own best health advocate. Pay attention to your body and what it is telling you. Don’t be a victim. Be a survivor!