Today I stumbled upon a story that absolutely wrecked my soul. It's about a beautiful 36 year old named Jen. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August 2011 and sadly, she passed away on 10/12/12.
This beautiful woman left countless loved ones behind, including two sons who are only 6 and 9. While this story is undeniably sad, it isn't one that I haven't heard before. My dear aunt, Carleen, passed away six years ago from pancreatic cancer, leaving behind her 3 year old son. :'(
As a new mom, my biggest fear is that something will happen to my son, my husband, or me. I have faith that my God holds all of us in His hands, so no matter what happens everything will be okay. But I'm also human and I have this fear. Cancer is an ugly, despicable illness that has no prejudice. It can happen to anyone. Through Jen's story, I learned that a yearly Pap smear will not detect ovarian cancer. It can detect cervical cancer, but there is no regular check-up that can give women warning. This is really shocking to me, as I have always thought that an annual check-up could detect any type of female reproductive cancer.
What most disturbs me about this newly learned fact is that because there is no way to detect through regular exams and often has common symptoms, ovarian cancer is typically diagnosed at stage 3 or 4. Here are a few facts about this type of cancer regarding survival expectations.
- About 3 out of 4 women with ovarian cancer survive 1 year after diagnosis.
- Nearly half of women live longer than 5 years after diagnosis.
- If diagnosis is made early in the disease and treatment is received before the cancer spreads outside the ovary, the 5-year survival rate is very high
These statistics are completely heartbreaking. Additionally, there is not a standard screening. There is a test that can be performed for women who are high risk to detect BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These particular genes are linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. If a person has these genes, they can have a hysterectomy to attempt to reduce their risk of these types of cancer.
So, what are we, the women, to do? For starters, we need to listen to our bodies. There have been a few dominate symptoms linked to ovarian cancer. They are:
1. Severe and frequent bloating/ Increased abdominal size
2. Severe and spastic cramping–similar to menstrual pains but more intense
3. Lower abdominal and back pain
4. Loss of appetite/Feeling full quickly
5. Weight loss
6. Extreme fatigue/Lack of energy
7. Night sweats
I did not know Jen, and I do not know anyone with ovarian cancer. I just feel a really strong conviction to write this post. Maybe someone needs to read it, maybe it'll pop up on a Google search years from now. if you or someone you know are experiencing the symptoms above, do not ignore them. You may have nothing, but you may also have reproductive cancer. For ovarian cancer, the sooner it is caught, the higher the survival rate. Do not ignore it. Do not succumb to it.
Jen, you beautiful soul. Your story has touched my heart and I will keep your sweet family in my prayers. May you dance with the angels at the throne of our King.
***If you would like to donate to Jen's family, please click here***