The stories of ovarian cancer patients are as varied as the people who tell them. Some are positive, while others talk about how doctors misdiagnose the symptoms – sometimes despite repeated requests from those who have had other members of the family with this type of cancer.
No doctor is perfect, but it seems we all could use a few more lessons about this cancer.
I fully intended to address this topic in a second news story, but recent events I?have heard about have made me change my approach. A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from Sara Triplett who encouraged me to do a story on ovarian cancer for a number of reasons. She came in about a week after that initial phone call and we talked about the passion she feels about raising awareness when it comes to this type of cancer. She gave me a list of names to call and talked to me a little about her own cancer experience. Since I finished that story things have changed in Sara’s life. I?don’t have her permission to go into any details, but I?do want to encourage you to keep Sara and her family in your thoughts and prayers. Being totally honest as I have learned more about ovarian cancer I?have come to appreciate just how serious it is. Honestly, with four daughters, my wife, a sister and plenty of other extended family the thought of an ovarian cancer diagnosis in any one of them scares me to death. It is from that list of people I was able to talk to, including the family members of those who have died, as well as the stories of survivors, that I found the faces of ovarian cancer. I talked with Orrin Estebo whose first wife, Nancy died of ovarian cancer. He talked a lot about the fact that Nancy never really showed a lot of signs of illness throughout her 17-month battle with ovarian cancer. In fact, she was watching the World Series in her hospital room when she passed away. Janine Frank, who wrote the Letter to the Editor you read in this past Monday’s edition, was diagnosed two years ago and said she was feeling depressed when she finally was diagnosed by a doctor. Frank, who is in remission, spoke candidly about the importance of awareness and said she hopes in the not so distant future ovarian cancer awareness is going to rise to level of other types of cancer. Robin Stegner, another ovarian cancer survivor, told me about a Web site for the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA)?that provides a lot of very good information about the issues relating to the disease, including stuff about support groups and fundraising events. I?wish I?would have gotten on this story a little sooner, because MOCA actually held a run/walk Sept. 10 to raise funds and awareness for ovarian cancer. The stories of ovarian cancer patients are as varied as the people who tell them. Some are positive, while others talk about how doctors misdiagnose the symptoms – sometimes despite repeated requests from those who have had other members of the family with this type of cancer. No doctor is perfect, but it seems we all could use a few more lessons about this cancer. Robin talked about the surgeon and how aggressive he was in his treatment, including removing anything that might have been touched by the cancer in her body. She said ovarian cancer is like a dandelion that has gone to seed. Wherever the cancer lands it can grow. While Stegner still has checkups regularly, she remains cancer free. Stegner and others said part of the reason one can endure any kind of cancer stems from the support one receives from family, friends and even complete strangers. Stegner said she firmly believes in the power of prayer because of the impact it had on her during her travels down what she called a rocky path. The sisters of Sue Salewski talked about the experience their family had after Sue was diagnosed. Both Jan Swoboda and Deb Schramm talked about their sister’s courage, adding they saw the toll treatments took on her body. There was a small window of time when the cancer was in remission, but it reappeared and in the end it took her life. Both Jan and Deb say they both have had checks as have their daughters. To a person, each cancer survivor, as well as the family who has been left behind by those who have their the battle with ovarian cancer, talk about the importance of staying on top of any potential symptoms, especially if you know you have genetics against you. A blood test known as the CA-125 has given some people hope when it comes to ovarian cancer, but in reality those who have done the research or have gone through the trials of ovarian cancer known the test does not positively diagnose ovarian cancer. It is a much more effective tool for those who have been diagnosed to determine whether or not it has returned after treatment. I want to encourage all of you to get checked for ovarian cancer, especially if you are experiencing any of the telltale symptoms and encourage others in your family to do the same. It just might save your life.