I Promise I Won’t Make You Blush

2014 Euro Beads Teal Toes

Teal Toes for Ovarian Cancer Awareness

No doubt you have seen teal ribbons and many ovarian cancer awareness fundraisers and activities during September. My hope is that by the end of the month, thousands of women, family, and friends, will have a better understanding of the collection of symptoms that may actually be the beginning stages of ovarian cancer. The more we know and the sooner we know, the better the chances for positive outcomes!

I recently spotted a Facebook banner photo that had a newborn baby’s tiny toenails painted teal, just like her mother’s toes right next to her. The image speaks volumes about the challenges and hopes facing those impacted by the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Truly, this is a disease that spans across generations. Men won’t get ovarian cancer, but just ask a man who lost someone dear to him if ovarian cancer has impacted his life! Some cancers seem easier to talk about than others, especially if the symptoms are commonly known, the diagnostic testing is easily accessible, and a clear treatment protocol is available. For example, breast cancer awareness, symbolized by pink ribbons, has surely come a long way! Fundraising, education and research networks are in place and the national community has embraced this cause. But the other female cancer I speak of has to do with a woman’s private parts and trust me it’s not something we’re all that comfortable discussing in public. And when we do, we tend to whisper the details.

Rachel Aber

Rachel’s Dance of HOPE

It’s taken awhile but I no longer blush when I speak about ovarian cancer! Yes, the symptoms are personal and intimate! Yes, it’s awkward starting conversations that are frank and border on TMI, but in the context of possibly saving someone’s life, I’m willing to dig my teal toes in the sand! Ovarian cancer is tricky to diagnose because it can mimic other fairly common ailments. Let me share a real-life situation: What would you think if your 24 year old daughter complained of being tired while she was working full-time at a new job and going to the gym daily? What if she mentioned she had gained 5 lbs that she couldn’t lose, though she had a perfectly healthy figure, was active and fit? By a work-related coincidence, Rachel Aber had scheduled her ob/gyn appointment earlier than usual. Her mother, Donna Aber, noted, “Looking back she knew she was tired more than usual and she was having to urinate frequently.” Three weeks later Rachel had a 10 cm aggressive ovarian cancer tumor surgically removed. Then she underwent fourteen months of chemo. Sadly, she passed from this earth when she was barely 26 years old. Rachel’s young age shocked me and made me mad! It’s so unfair.

On the other end of the spectrum, my mom-in-law, Jean Condon, at 75 was perfectly healthy but experienced some unexplained changes in her body. She was diagnosed and battled ovarian cancer for over 5 ½ years. Dr. Ursula Matulonis of Dana-Faber helped our family learn first-hand the intricacies of dealing with ovarian cancer. Looking back, Jean had many of the symptoms listed on the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness cards. The experience of a cancer diagnosis is different for each individual. However, we are learning more about ovarian cancer by the day and continue to raise awareness of specific symptoms to bring to a doctor’s attention. This is where the grassroots campaign comes in! We need to spread symptom awareness from one to another. Why? Because we can! Because we must! Because this information can save lives! Everyone can take a role. I distribute Teal Toes or Rachel’s Dance of HOPE Ovarian Cancer Symptom cards with every order I send out. I always hold the parcel to my heart and whisper a positive affirmation before sending it off into the postal system. Miracles do happen. May it be so!
Be Well,
Susan

PS Rachel’s SPIRIT shines! Click here to order.

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