September 19, 2013

Take Back Teal

Today I'm hitting you with some knowledge. If you were around last year you may remember this post that I originally wrote for The Indie Chicks.

 I think it's incredibly read-worthy, especially about a topic that doesn't get much attention.

October is all about pink AND purple but there’s another month, and color, that is often overlooked.

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and teal is the color we wear to represent its awareness. 
Why ovarian cancer? Because it was an important cause to the daughter of a family member. Heather Weeks worked as an assistant to the CEO of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. In June 2008, at 23, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer. Sadly, Heather lost her fight 5 months later.  She was only 24. As a cause Heather was passionate about we continue to push for awareness in her memory.
This is something that, like breast cancer and domestic violence, we need to be made aware of everyday, not just one month out of the year.
Did you know?
  • Ovarian Cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecological cancers in the United States and the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American Women.
  • Each year, approximately 20,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and about 15,000 women die of the disease.
  • ALL women are at risk for ovarian cancer. However, a woman’s risk is highest during her 60s and increases with age through her late 70s.
  • Women who have had breast cancer have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Infertility, regardless of whether or not a woman uses fertility drugs, also increases the risk of ovarian cancer.
  • The use of oral contraceptives can reduce your risk. Women who use oral contraceptives for 5+ years have about a 50% lower risk than women who have never used oral contraceptives.
  • The symptoms of ovarian cancer are very vague; making it difficult to diagnose. Only 19% of ovarian cancers are caught before cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region. When it is detected and treated early, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.

There are symptoms?

Yup! They may just seem like your typical womanly aches and pains but if these symptoms are persistent it’s possible that they could be red flags to something more serious. “The frequency and /or number of symptoms are a key factor in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer”. Unfortunately there are no screening tests to tell if a woman has ovarian cancer. Many women think that their Pap test is enough. WRONG! The Pap test ONLY screens for cervical cancer and does NOT test for ovarian cancer.
  • Bloating
  • Pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (having to go NOW or often)
These 4 symptoms are more likely to occur persistently in women with ovarian cancer than those of the general population. Others, although not as useful in detection are:
  • Fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Menstrual irregularities
The OCNA (Ovarian Cancer National Alliance) has even developed a handy app to help you learn about the risks, signs and symptoms. You can even track symptoms over time that could indicate ovarian cancer. Get it HERE.

So what can you do to reduce your risk?

For starters, see your OB-GYN for regular (every 6 months) checkups. Secondly, spread the word. Because there is no screening test and symptoms can be misdiagnosed due to their subtitles, ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it’s too late. “Fewer than 20% of ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed early”. By offering support and promoting awareness, we, you, can help fight this disease.

Need to know more?

HERE you can learn more about your risk and symptoms.
If you have been diagnosed, go HERE to help with Understanding Ovarian Cancer.
You can find the FAQ list from the OCNA HERE.
**All statistical information was gathered via Hope For Heather and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance**


  1. Great post. Awareness is half the battle. There's nothing worse than losing someone who could have survived, if only they had caught it a little bit earlier.

  2. My sorority's first philanthropy was Ovarian Cancer and I spent several years spreading awareness with them. Great post!