Have you been seeing teal?
I sure hope so.
When it comes to cancer awareness, it seems that pink is the dominant color. We all know it as the breast cancer color and people wear it all year-round.
While the heightened awareness and dedication fighting breast cancer, one of the top killers of women, is helping lots of people, it’s not the only cancer that people need support battling out there.
In September, we can don our teal for ovarian cancer, also known as “The Silent Killer.” It may not kill as many women as breast cancer, but once diagnosed, a woman’s options are limited and the prognosis is often not good because it’s usually not detected until it’s in its third or fourth stage.
Now, ovarian cancer is one I’m very familiar with. It claimed my mother-in-law in 2015, just a few days after my wife’s birthday. Like many women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she did not know until it was too late.
She was diagnosed in 2011 and through treatments and therapy, she was able to hang on to life for four more years, long enough to see her daughter get married and her first grandson.
That grandson will never know her, nor will his sister born earlier this year. The joy he brought her in her final months will only be known to him through photos and the stories of others.
Ovarian cancer robbed my children of a grandmother. My wife of a mother.
It robs thousands of people a year of mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts. It is a murderer all of us want to see stopped so we can have those people in our lives.
That’s why this month is for the color teal.
Ovarian cancer forms in an ovary. The result is abnormal cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body.
Ovarian cancer is called “The Silent Killer” because many times there are no symptoms until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage. At these late stages it’s difficult to treat and often fatal.
Ovarian cancer accounts for approximately 3 percent of cancers in women. It is only the 11th most common cancer among women, but ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among women. It is also the deadliest of gynecologic cancers.
Because these potential symptoms and signs of ovarian cancer are vague, only about 25 percent of ovarian cancers are found in the early stages. Symptoms typically become more prominent in advanced stages when tumor growth creates pressure on the bladder and rectum, and cause fluid in the abdomen, which causes abdominal distension.
When diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the five-year survival rate is 46.5 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The best chance to catch ovarian cancer early is through regular exams and check-ups or seeing the doctor when you think you have symptoms. Although ovarian cancer is difficult to detect, it can sometimes be found through other gynecological tests.
Despite the seemingly uphill battle faced, progress is being made. Back in 1970, the five-year survival rate was only 18 percent. Now, it’s more than doubled. If things continue to progress, we may see that number we have double in half the time or less.
But to keep the research making the progress going, money is necessary.
Luckily, if you want to donate, there are two good charities with 4 out of 4 ratings, according to CharityNavigator.com.
The largest is the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance (ocrfa.org). It supports scientific research with the intent of eliminating the disease.
The other is the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, (ovarian.org) whose mission is to save lives by fighting tirelessly to prevent and cure ovarian cancer and to improve the quality of life for survivors.
From what I can tell, both are good. So, you could feel good about donating to either.
No matter what you do this month, don’t forget that ovarian cancer, like breast cancer, is a year-round issue. The women who are fighting either need our support as a whole.
Originally printed in the Batesville Daily Guard.
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