To Anyone With Ovaries

February 19, 2016

To anyone that has ovaries— please read this.

Growing up, I was invincible. I'd ride on the back of a motorcycle in shorts, beer bong cheap booze, and be frivolous in my endeavors. Now that I'm a mom, however, I've morphed into a boring, cautious parent. There's no way in hell I'd want my boys doing some of the things I've done. No way.

And more so, this whole mom thing has me incredibly in tune with my health than ever before. Sometimes I hold my babies driving myself crazy with "what ifs"-- what if I got in a car accident, what if I got hurt, and what if I got cancer. I can't bear the thought of not living to see my boys grow up; in fact, I pray every night that I live to hold my great grandchildren.

I most recently connected with an Arizona-based national foundation called Colleen's Dream. It's spearheaded by a band of sisters— beautiful blond-and-brown haired women who lost their 58 year old mother from stage 3-C ovarian cancer.

Colleen's daughters are on a mission to fund ovarian cancer research with the primary goal of developing an accurate and accessible early detection test. Right now, there's no legit way to detect the disease. One in 75 women will develop this cancer in their lifetime. Scary thought.

While learning more about this foundation, I discovered that this cancer does not discriminate against age. In fact, Colleen's Dream shared with me a story about a 9-year old who caught a grapefruit-sized tumor just waiting to burst. Luckily, doctors treated that young girl in time— but most cases are not so successful. About 85% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer do not catch it early enough. That's a huge percentage. But when caught early, the five-year survival rate is 93%; ...a promising statistic.

Colleen's daughters have and continue to work with wonderful agencies devoted to ovarian cancer research.  This includes UCSD, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and The Big 10 Cancer Research Consortium. And their mission has attracted celebs— particularly NFL players. They also have amazing sponsors and partners— I am taken aback by the vast nation-wide support Colleen's daughters have generated.

Before I wrap this up, I want to provide some information about ovarian cancer. It is the most deadly gynecological form of cancer and women with a family history of ovarian, breast, uterus, colon or rectal cancer are at higher risk. Women who have never been pregnant, those who have taken hormone therapy for more than 10 years and those who have tested positive for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation are also at high risk.

One or more of the following signs and symptoms may develop with ovarian cancer:

 

  • Back pain

  • Swollen/bloated abdomen

  • Pressure/pain in the abdomen

  • Feeling full quickly

  • Constipation or diarrhea

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge

 

It is important to see a physician, preferably a gynecologist, if these symptoms persist for a couple of weeks. Many women do not go directly to their OB/GYN and they are misdiagnosed for several weeks or months.

I'll end with this. We all know someone who knows someone effected by cancer. It's unfortunately a norm. We are not invincible— but we can be proactive about our health, ourselves, and contributing to foundations like Colleen's Dream.

I'm writing this on the eve of their major annual fundraiser: their Golf & Gala. I'm honored to be a part of this dream, and have no doubt Colleen is spreading her wings over her daughters.

 

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