Since I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer this past, lucky, Thanksgiving 2013, I'm joining in with Ovarian Cancer Australia's Afternoon Teal Appeal by sponsoring a morning tea with some lovely ladies in Brisbane. Prior to my diagnosis, I knew ovarian cancer could not be detected via pap smears. However, I did not know that I had two strong risk factors, nor did I know the symptoms of ovarian cancer, of which I had four prior to diagnosis. If I had been aware of the symptoms I would have ventured to my GP's office sooner.
I was still very lucky that I went in to see her when I did, and the clear cell ovarian carcinoma that I had was caught early Stage 1/Grade 1A (the lowest ranking cancer can be) and removed with no spread from my right ovary. I am currently under going 4 rounds of chemotherapy to insure my chance of return is reduced to 2.5%.
Since there is no accurate way of testing for ovarian cancer (my C-125 blood test did not indicate tumor markers prior to surgery), I feel the need to make my friends aware of what the symptoms & risk factors are so that they are aware of their bodies, and can also spread the word.
February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, an annual Ovarian Cancer Australia campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms, risks and impact of ovarian cancer, as well as raise vital funds to support their work in awareness, support, advocacy and research. Ovarian Cancer Australia’s vision is to save lives and ensure that no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone and I am hoping you can help me provide vital support to the organisation.
This February I’m raising funds and awareness for Ovarian Cancer Australia by hosting an Afternoon Teal®.
I welcome any contribution, great or small, that you could make and I would love to see you at my Afternoon Teal for fun, frolics and fundraising.
Here's 10 facts about ovarian cancer I want you to know:
1. Did you know that ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of any women’s cancer and has a five year survival rate well below the average for all cancers?
2. Each year 1400 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and more than 1000 will die from the disease – that’s one woman every 8 hours!
3. Each day in Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and three will die from the disease.
4. Ovarian cancer most commonly affects women aged over 50 who have been through menopause; however the disease can affect women of all ages.
5. There is no early detection test for ovarian cancer so the best way of detecting the disease is to know and recognise the symptoms which most commonly include: abdominal or pelvic pain, increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating, the need to urinate often or urgently, or feeling full after eating a small amount.
6. If diagnosed early, the majority of women can survive. Unfortunately the majority of women are diagnosed with advanced stages of the disease.
7. In Australia, the overall five year survival rate for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer is 43%. In comparison, the overall five year survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer is 89%.
8. Genetics and family history are responsible for at least 15% of ovarian cancers. If a woman has two or more relatives from the same side of the family affected by ovarian or ovarian and breast cancer her risk of developing the disease may be increased. This tends to be a result of an inherited faulty gene (BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation) that increases a woman’s risk of developing both cancers.
9. Other risk factors women ought to be aware of include:
• being over 50 years of age;
• never having children, being unable to have children, or having children after 30;
• never having used oral contraceptives;
• having endometriosis;
• lifestyle factors: such as smoking tobacco, being overweight or eating a high fat diet;
• and hormonal factors: including early puberty (menstruating before 12) or late menopause (onset after 50).
10. Ovarian Cancer Australia is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2001 by people who had been affected by ovarian cancer, either themselves or through someone they loved. It provides support for women and their families, raises community awareness of ovarian cancer, advocates for improved services for women and promotes and funds world class ovarian cancer research to help save lives and ensure no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone. For further information about Ovarian Cancer Australia visit: www.ovariancancer.net.au