Sunday, June 8, 2008

In Memory of Julie, My Cousin

I can't believe it is just shy of 6 months that my sweet cousin passed away. Tomorrow would have been Julie's 39th birthday. My cousin Lorie spoke at her sister's memorial service and said with great strength and help from God, " Julie's birthday is on June 9th. My dream and goal would be to get some people together at the ______ Reservoir, do a memory walk in honor of my sister, my hero, put $5 in a bucket and continue to increase this tradition every year on her birthday. Julie would have wanted us to raise attention to ovarian cancer and to help in anyway we could to raise money to help find a cure".

This morning over 125 people showed up at a park to walk in honor of Julie. What a joy to see so many people who were out to support Julie, my extended family and friends for the cause of fighting ovarian cancer. The walk was not long but seeing all of us wearing the shirts we received and the color teal (teal is the official color representing fighting ovarian cancer) was a sight to see. I walked with my sister Amy, my brother in law Eric and my Aunt Jean. It was nice to see my family and those that were close to Julie. My mom, dad and my grandma were there too. I always love being around my family.

Here is my Uncle Jack, my Aunt Jean and my Dad. Jack and my dad are brothers.

Here is Amy and Eric.

Here is my Aunt Jean, Julie's mom and Chad's mom.

Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer because women do not take some of the early warning signals seriously. Usually, women do not realize they have ovarian cancer until the cancer is in the later stages. The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition has published some warning signs and information about ovarian cancer. Ladies, please go and see a doctor quickly if these warning signs point to symptoms that you might be experiencing.

How is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?
Unfortunately, most women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced-stage disease (Stage III). This is because the symptoms of ovarian cancer (particularly in the early stages) often are not acute or intense, and present vaguely. In most cases, ovarian cancer is not detected during routine pelvic exams, unless the doctor notes that the ovary is enlarged. The sooner ovarian cancer is found and treated, the better a woman’s chance for recovery. It is important to know that early stage symptoms are not silent – so women should be extra alert and watch out for early symptoms.

Potential symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
• Pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort
• Vague but persistent gastrointestinal upsets such as gas, nausea and indigestion
• Frequency and/or urgency of urination in the absence of an infection
• Unexplained changes in bowel habits
• Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
• Pelvic and/or abdominal swelling, bloating and/or feeling of fullness
• Ongoing unusual fatigue

Did You Know?
The Pap test does not detect ovarian cancer. It determines cancer of the cervix.
Screening Tests

Although there is no consistently-reliable screening test to detect ovarian cancer, the following tests are available and should be offered to women, especially those at high risk for ovarian cancer.

• Pelvic Exam: Women age 18 and above should have a mandatory annual vaginal exam. Women age 35 and above should receive an annual rectovaginal exam (physician inserts fingers in the rectum and vagina simultaneously to feel for abnormal swelling and to detect tenderness).

• Transvaginal Sonography: This ultrasound, performed with a small instrument placed in the vagina, is appropriate especially for women at high risk for ovarian cancer or for those with an abnormal pelvic exam.

• CA-125 Test: This blood test determines if the level of CA-125, a protein produced by ovarian cancer cells, has increased in the blood of a woman at high risk for ovarian cancer or with an abnormal pelvic examination.While CA-125 is an important test, it unfortunately is not always accurate. Some non-cancerous diseases of the ovaries also increase the CA-125 levels, and some ovarian cancers may not produce enough CA-125 levels to cause a positive test.

While CA-125 is an important test, it unfortunately is not always accurate. Some non-cancerous diseases of the ovaries also increase the CA-125 levels, and some ovarian cancers may not produce enough CA-125 levels to cause a positive test.

Positive Tests
If any of these tests are positive, a woman should consult with a gynecologic oncologist who may conduct a CT scan and X-Rays and study the results. However, the only way to more accurately confirm ovarian cancer is with a biopsy, a procedure in which the doctor takes a sample of the tumor and examines it under a microscope.

Research into new ovarian cancer screening tests is ongoing and new diagnostic tests may be on the horizon. NOCC monitors the latest scientific developments, so visit for updates.

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