Ovarian Cancer — Knowing Can Save Your Life

karen latimer family

This was taken a couple of weeks after my mom’s diagnosis.

October is breast cancer awareness month. For me, it is also ovarian cancer awareness month … even though the teal ribbons will tell you this was observed last month. October, with all it’s color and excitement, is a bitter reminder for me of what I’ve lost. This month, I will be 10 years without a mother, and apparently time does not heal all wounds. At the young age of 58, my mom, Madelyn, went from being a healthy, active, happy woman, to carrying the diagnosis of stage 4 ovarian cancer, seemingly overnight. She carried this burden with grace and strength for four years, and she inspires me still.

She would want me to tell you this:

Pay attention to your body. Do not dismiss symptoms because you are too busy with work, life, kids and grandkids to care for yourself. Ovarian cancer caught early is curable. Caught late, as it almost always is, is fatal.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are subtle and easily confused with the general stuff we women suffer through on many, if not most, days.

• bloating

• abdominal and pelvic pain

• more frequent urination

• a sense of early fullness or not being able to eat any more

• backache

• extreme fatigue

• nausea, upset stomach, increased gas

If you are concerned, do not think yourself a hero by toughing it out. Get to your doctor for your yearly exam AND when you are having symptoms, however mild. Ovarian cancer is a rapidly dividing cancer, and it can become advanced very quickly. My mother was up to date with her gyn exams, and she blew off her aches and pains as a normal part of aging. She was an incredibly selfless and resilient person, and while I will always admire this, I would give just about anything to have had a mom who complained just a little bit more. Early diagnosis is the only chance we have.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Physician, founder and president of Tips From Town. She loves combining all she learned as a doctor with all she continues to learn as a mom of five to bring you interesting, useful and fun information on the Family Pages.

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