By Janet Prince
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and I want to share with you the signs of ovarian cancer…why? Because I lost my mother – my very best friend – to ovarian cancer eight years ago and I still miss her every day. As I shared last month, I am a breast cancer survivor but what I didn’t share is that my mother was diagnosed just five months after me with ovarian cancer. Just like most women, my mother was so busy helping to take care of me and helping Gary with our two small children that she didn’t have time to listen to the “whispers of ovarian cancer”.
In September of 2003 as my Mom was taking care of me, I noticed her acting a little nervous. I knew something was wrong and she was holding something back, so finally I got it out of her that “she too had a little problem”. So, in October I finished my chemo for breast cancer one week and the following week my Mom started her chemo treatment. We continued our cancer journey together…as my hair was returning, hers was going away.
Over the next few years, she took all the “cancer” hits for us. My cancer to date has never returned, but Mama’s kept rearing its ugly head every time we thought we had it beat. On Mother’s Day 2010, I admitted my Mother to the hospital and learned the end was near. She was placed on In-Hospital Hospice in June and she passed away August 8, 2010. During this time, we laughed, we talked and I cried. We were blessed with those very special days and I was blessed to have a husband and family who let me spend those final eight weeks, day and night, with her. Gary and the girls would come to the hospital and the girls would crawl up in the bed and share with their Granny how their day was and what was going on in their life. I believe it was those special times that kept Mama going until it was her time to go. The night she left us, I held her hand in mine and watched as she left, and I know in my heart she went from my hand to my Daddy’s hand. And in an instant my best friend was gone.
I encourage you to know your body and know the symptoms of ovarian cancer. What makes them hard to determine if something is wrong or not is that the symptoms of ovarian cancer are things that we just chalk up to minor irritations. The Whispering Symptoms include: abdominal pressure, bloating and discomfort, unusual fatigue, shortness of breath, unexplained weight fluctuation and constant feeling of fullness. Now who of us hasn’t had many or all of these symptoms at some point in time? If any of these symptoms prolong you may want to check with your gynecologist…and remember a pap smear does not detect ovarian cancer.
The Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Central South Carolina provides educational information, provides speakers for area lunch and learns, and holds the Cathy B. Novinger Annual Butterfly Release on the steps of the State House. This year the Butterfly Release will be held on September 20th and butterflies will be released in honor and in memory of those who are battling or have lost their battle with ovarian cancer. More information can be found at www.ovariancancermidlands.org
Until next time,