A Click & Comment to Help Cure Ovarian Cancer
Leah Walker September 10, 2012

Ovarian cancer is referred to as the “silent killer” because often there are no symptoms, but for my mom, it was more like a ten-piece band. Sadly, she tuned out ovarian cancer until it was too late.

September in the United States is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the background of my site looks a little different. In honor of my mom and to help increase understanding, I’ve changed my background to teal, the awareness color for ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cancer

Since there is no screening test for ovarian cancer, it is so important to recognize the signs and symptoms.  If caught in the early stages, there is approximately a 90% rate of survival. However, if diagnosed in the later stages, like my mother and aunt, the survival rate is between one to three years. Early detection certainly saves lives.

MomMe1

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

  • Bloating
  • Difficult menstrual cycles
  • Headaches
  • Unusual weight gain
  • Sleepless nights
  • Sense of urgency or higher frequency to urinate
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Back pain
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Constipation

These symptoms are relatively common, but if persistent they could be signs of ovarian cancer. It’s vital to see a doctor. Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States for women and causes more deaths than any other type of gynecologic cancer.

MomGirls

American females have a 1.8% chance of developing the disease in her lifetime, but that’s for the normal female. My mother and I, along with many of my family members, have an increased chance due to being carriers of the BRCA cancer gene. Our chances of being diagnosed are as high as 25% for ovarian cancer and 85% for breast cancer.

MomMe2

Several years before her diagnosis, my mom had the opportunity to be tested for the BRCA gene. She ignored the advice of the geneticist. A simple blood test would have told her that she was a carrier of the gene and preventive measures could have been taken. She might still be alive. Through her battle with cancer and subsequent death, I’ve vowed to make my health a top priority. I want to squeeze every last drop out of my life as possible.

Mom_Bow

This past Thursday I made the familiar trip to Houston’s Medical Center and to MD Anderson, the #1 ranked cancer hospital in the country. Twice a year I visit my gynecological OB/GYN for a battery of tests and exams. This Thursday I’ll have an MRI of the breasts, give more blood, and see yet another doctor. Every six months I’m either being crammed in an MRI tube or being mashed by a mammogram machine. It’s not fun, but it beats the hell out of dying from cancer.

MD

I’ll have a preventative double mastectomy and reconstruction within the next two years. I’ll have my lone ovary removed in the next ten years. I guess you could say that I’m one of the lucky ones, as strange as that sounds. I know my risk of ovarian and breast cancer and am able to do something about it before I’m diagnosed. The way I see it, with my genetic code and family history, it’s not IF I’ll get cancer, it’s WHEN. So with the help of great doctors and diligence on my part, I’m going to do my best to give the finger to fate.

MomHB

 I’ve created this platform to share my travel experiences, and to have people actually read my musings is truly a blessing. I recently wrote,

“…I’ve found that whispering can be just as effective as shouting into a microphone. The real key is to figure out which one to use and when.”

I think Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is the time for me to scream into a microphone with a bullhorn. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Not only have I changed the background of my site in honor of my mother and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, I’m also going to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve been saving for months for my November European adventure, but I think some of that money would be better served by going to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. For fifteen years, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has served as the foremost advocate for American women with ovarian cancer. They have also been awarded four stars by Charity Navigator.

Family

This is where you come in.

In order to help spread awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms, I am asking for three things: Click, Comment, and Share.

Click Here:Why I Travel: A Dedication

Comment: Please read and comment on the story behind my mother’s battle with ovarian cancer and its subsequent effect on me.

Share: E-mail, Facebook, Tweet (#OvarianCancer), Google+, Stumble, and spread through word-of-mouth

I will donate $1 (up to $500) for each new comment on that post to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. It gets even better. My dad will donate $.50 (up to $250) and my brother will donate $.25 (up to $125) for each new comment as well. That means that my family and I could donate a total of $875 to a charity that’s mission is to increase awareness and help women suffering from ovarian cancer.

Ropin

My family and I could just donate the money and be done with it, but that wouldn’t spread the message about ovarian cancer. This is a cause very close to our hearts, and I am fortunate to have a public platform to help further this cause.

Please help get the word out about ovarian cancer by clicking, commenting, and sharing my post, “Why I Travel:  A Dedication“.

THANK YOU!

Remember, comments on this post don’t count toward the donation. Please make sure you comment here. If you’ve previously commented on the post, please do so again. 

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

50 Comments

  1. Oh Leah, I didn’t know about your mother or aunt until reading this post. I am so proud of you for the preventative measures that you’re taking. It doesn’t sound fun or easy, but they’ll save your life. Thank you for also posting the warning signs of ovarian cancer. I had never heard them before (nor sought them out). Those little pieces of information could save many lives.

    Thank you for sharing and for being so brave.

    1. Yes, it does suck, but those are just the cards we were dealt. I’m not sure that I’m brave; I just prefer not to go through what my family as gone through. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to have a team of doctors that are helping to ensure I live a long time.

  2. Wow Leah! Thank you for sharing this post. I’m so sorry for your loss, I had no clue about your mom or aunt. I also had no clue that those types of preventative measures could be taken – a preventative double mastectomy and reconstruction? You are incredibly brave. Kudos to you. And it’s very admirable of you and your family to try to raise awareness in the way that you are not simply donating the money. I will go over, read and comment on that other post 🙂

    1. Thank you, Melissa. For those with the BRCA gene, it’s quite common to take these measures. I’ve had a cousin already have the mastectomy, reconstruction, and hysterectomy. The pain and subsequent recovery time was worth it for the peace of mind. Unfortunately, not everyone has the warning that we do, and that’s where ovarian cancer is the most dangerous. It’s important to know the symptoms. One can never be too careful.

    1. Thank you for all your help and support not only on this project, but throughout my first year of blogging. You are much appreciated.

  3. My sister-in-law’s mother battled cancer for three years before succumbing. It was a horrible thing to have to watch, but her strength and dignity through it all was something that left everyone who knew her touched. Someday, we’ll find a cure for this wretched disease, but for now, supporting research efforts is vital.

    1. Yes, Erik, you are right. It is such a horrible thing to watch. You feel so helpless. I’m sorry to hear about your sister-in-law’s mother. I do hope I live to see the cure.

  4. Leah, thank you so much for doing this. I knew your mother had sadly died to cancer, but no idea what type, why etc. And how this impacts your life – wasn’t aware at all of all you have to go through regularly, just to beat diagnosis.

    Thank you for doing this. I will help spread the word

    1. I don’t talk about it a lot simply because it seems normal to me now. It’s like having a sixth toe…you just forget it’s there. It’s something I don’t dwell on because that’s not good for me. I just do what I need to do and move on. That’s all any of us can do, right?

  5. Thank you for sharing your story! I have to admit that I put my family’s concerns quite often ahead of my own health and that’s not good. Reading your post has pushed me to call and get my mammogram scheduled and to not ignore my health.

    1. I hate to hear that you’ve been ignoring your health, but am very grateful to know that you will be getting that mammogram. Make yourself a priority. You’re no good to your family if you’re sick, right?

  6. Another gripping story Leah… Just goes to show that even if you take very good care of your health, this (and many other) silent killers can be lurking, waiting to hit you when you least expect it. It is so sad you had to lose your mother in order to learn how to protect yourself.
    Wishing you and your loved ones all the best.

    1. You are spot-on, Raf. There are so many things out there that it makes one’s head spin. My mom gave me life and ultimately lost hers to ensure I live a long, full life. Sadly it didn’t have to be that way. I don’t want others to make the same mistake.

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss, Leah and I’m sure that your mother would be very proud of all that you’re doing in her honour to raise awareness of this horrible disease. Best of luck with the fundraising!

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa, I appreciate your comment and kind words. I’d like to think this is something she would do and that she certainly is proud of me.

  8. What a great way to use your audience and this platform. After reading this, I think I will contact my doctor about getting the blood test done. It is scary to think about knowing you have that in your genes and having to take serious actions to save your life, but as you said, the peace of mind would be so worth it. You are brave. Thanks for sharing your story and your mom’s.

    1. One thing I should let you know, insurance will likely not cover the blood test if there is not a link to family heredity. Also, there is a strong presence of the gene in people with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. It wasn’t until other members of my family and I were deemed carriers of the gene that I found out that we have a German Jewish heritage. Go figure since I come from a lineage of Methodist ministers. 🙂

  9. Hi! I’m a first-time visitor to your blog — I saw your post in the Travel Blog Chronicle FB group. Your beautiful post brought tears to my eyes! Also, I had no idea that the color for Ovarian Cancer awareness was teal… Good luck in your fundraising quest!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by. Ovarian cancer is often overshadowed by October, pink, and breast cancer month. Both months are incredibly important in making women aware and prompting them to take care of themselves. Often we have other priorities and put ourselves on the back burner. I want to let people know that ultimately our health is the most important thing, because without it we can’t do for others.

  10. You made me cry but its a good cry, memories do that and thank you for the caring and concern about woman’s health and what you do in your mom’s memory. Because I have lost a parent, I know how you feel and that missing them NEVER goes away but…the tears don’t flow as often and more memories are recalled as time passes. My love to you.

    1. You’re right, it never goes away. I don’t want anyone to go through what I saw my mom and aunt go though. It’s a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Thank you now and always, Jody.

  11. I know this comment doesn’t count towards the donation to charity; I’ll leave another comment on the other post. I wanted to thank you, though, for writing this and educating me on the signs & symptoms of ovarian cancer. I really had no idea. I’m going to make my mom read this, too.

    1. I wouldn’t have known the symptoms had my mother not been diagnosed. There are so many things out there lurking that it’s impossible to know everything. I just want women to be aware of something that they might overlook otherwise. Thank you, Francesca.

  12. I’m glad that you wrote this, Leah. I feel with a lot of illnesses that people do ignore signs and just, “suck it up” because they don’t want to seem weak, or have the fear in the back of their mind confirmed. I think it’s awesome that you’re taking steps to give the middle finger to fate, even though it’ll no doubt be an arduous journey.

    Luckily my family history features little to no cancer (heart problems instead….eek) but even then, people do need to be aware of symptoms and measures that can be taken.

    1. I agree with you, Tom, too many times we do just suck it up or think we are too busy to take care of ourselves. You’ve got a BIG heart so I do hope you take care of it. 🙂

  13. Thanks for speaking out Leah! A passionate person in the right place will impact many other lives in a positive way. I started to say that I loved your mom and enjoying every minute I spent with her, but I still love her. There’s great memories and she’ll always have a place in my heart!

    1. I think you’re right, Heather. You have such passion and I hope that people appreciate that about you as much as I do. Thank you so much for your wonderful words about my mom. She loved you for who you are.

  14. What a great way to honor your mother. I’m like you, I’d rather know what I am getting myself into and try my best to prevent anything I can. Thanks for sharing your story.

  15. Hi Leah

    You have shared a great article here. I am also running a blog for help those woman who are fighting with ovarian cancer.

  16. Hi Leah, I’ve been enjoying your blog for some months now and just came across your post regarding your mother’s interest. It was a thoughtful, loving tribute. Thank you for sharing your inspiration for life and travel! Blessings!

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