Start the ovarian cancer conversation

May 8 was World Ovarian Cancer Day, a day for organizations to educate communities about this disease that so often goes undiagnosed for some time.

My sister and I have chosen to speak out here in Cowichan because two and a half years ago our mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She had been tired and feeling bloated, but those are common ailments for many people. Eventually her abdomen started filling with fluid and she knew something was really wrong. Because of its sneaky symptoms ovarian cancer is often detected late.

Our mom began a regime of chemotherapy that lasted almost a year. During that time she lost weight, lost her hair and suffered all sorts of side effects. Watching her battle is tough, but our mom is an incredibly strong woman with seven grandchildren to help keep her motivated.

Ovarian cancer can occur like any other cancer, seemingly randomly, but it is also linked to BRCA1 and 2 gene mutations that also cause breast cancer. Ovarian cancer has a lower survival rate than breast cancer because of the lack of awareness and therefore late stage diagnosis. That is why we should be talking about it. Those that have the gene mutation can undergo regular screening for breast cancer, but there is no screening for ovarian cancer.

Our lives have been changed by cancer, but we are not alone.

Almost every one of us has been affected; whether it is our own battle, or that of someone we know or love. Cancer comes in all shapes and sizes and effects all ages. We have all felt it.

Like we were, most people are unaware of symptoms and are caught off guard.

We wish we had known then what we know now. So, when you see us wearing a teal ribbon, ask about it. Tell your story if you want to.

Start the conversation. Then on Sept. 13, join us at the Cowichan Sportsplex for the Walk of Hope to raise awareness and money for ovarian cancer research for a cure and early detection methods. Register online at http://ovariancancerwalkofhope.ca, or come by Adage Studio to join the Dancing for a Cure team.