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IMG_4546My anniversary is coming up! It’s not an Anniversary I care to remember but it’s coming none the less. My birthday is also coming up! I don’t mind my birthday. I used to really like my birthday! I like getting gifts. It’s my love language. However, two years ago both my anniversary and my birthday occurred on the same day. So from now on the joy of my birthday will also be the anniversary of when I first heard the words “you have an ovarian tumor and you have an appointment tomorrow morning at 7:30 with an Oncologist.” That phone call was from my primary doctor five minutes before walking in my favorite restaurant to meet my best friend and her husband to celebrate my 45th birthday. All four of us were in shock that night. I don’t remember any gifts I got that year. The worst gift I got came the next morning at 7:30 when I met my new doctor, an Oncologist, and he said “You have cancer and I’m going to take it out Monday so it will be gone.”

Now, how did that happen? Well, i know how mine was found now. But in the 45 years of living I’d never even THOUGHT about my ovaries! I hadn’t even thought about them when I was trying to get pregnant some 19 years before. I’d always had painful periods. But I didn’t understand all of that worked together. The only thing I knew about my reproductive system was it’s purpose – to make babies – and after the making babies part it’s purpose was to double me over in pain every month with my period. I NEVER thought about any of it!! NEVER!!! When I did go for my regular check ups I did always joke around with my doctor and ask her if she could come up with some reason for me to have a hysterectomy. We’d laugh! She’d think I was joking but I was serious. Little did I know that this year it was REALLY serious. So this year she felt a mass in my stomach area and sent me for tests. TADA – an ovarian tumor! If she had not been palpating my stomach we wouldn’t have known until it was too late. Therefore my cancer was found early. As they say, I’m one of the lucky ones. But everyone is not that lucky.

So as my anniversary approaches I wanted to share the early signs with you. Ovarian Cancer is known as the “silent killer” because there are NO SIGNS TO TEST for it. There is nothing that will stand out as a clear warning to anyone that will make you say hmmmmmm I need to get that tested for ovarian cancer. A pap test do NOT check for ovarian cancer. I’m shocked to realize how many people non-challantly think it will. There is NO routine yearly test that can be done to check your body for ovarian cancer. But there are some signs that YOU have to know about YOURSELF and then communicate them to your doctor at your YEARLY exam. Here is a list:

1. Abdominal Pain

This would be any pain that is not associated with cramps or feels different than indigestion that persists for 2+ weeks. It is not associated with your period, diarrhea or the stomach flu.

2. Indigestion

This would be for someone who doesn’t usually have an issue with indigestion or heartburn.

3. Loss of appetite

This may be a sudden loss of appetite that is uncommon for someone. The cancer can affect a person’s metabolism which could cause the person’s energy level to decrease.

4. Bloating

This may cause your clothes to fit improperly. It could feel like gas pain in your belly or your pelvis that just doesn’t go away.

(This was where my problem was – I had been trying to lose weight. I was working very hard to lose weight in my stomach but it wasn’t going anywhere. It seemed to be getting larger in spite of the exercises I was doing to flatten my stomach. After the diagnosis I realized that was my ONLY sign and I wasn’t even the one who found that.)

5. Urinary Frequency

This may be an increase in the urge to urinate or even an incontinence (inability to control the bladder). This can happen all of a sudden or worsen over a period of a couple of weeks.

6. Feeling Full Quickly

Because of the position of the tumor, it can rest against the stomach or the intestines which would make you feel full much quicker than you normally would. This may “mess with your head” making your think that you are eating much less so you should be losing weight yet #4 is actually happening.

7. Alternating Constipation and Diarrhea

Because of the positioning of the tumor putting pressure on the stomach, bladder and bowels the digestive system could be getting mixed signals. Your body could be confused sending you all sorts of messages.

8. Lower Back Pain

A persistent, dull, ache in the low back. Many women liken this pain to labor pains.

9. Sudden Weight Loss

Sudden weight loss in the early stage without trying to lose weight may be a welcome surprise but could also be an early sign and should be reported to your doctor.

10. Vaginal Bleeding

A lesser known early warning sign, one that has only been noted in approximately 1 quarter of ovarian cancer patients, was spotting or irregular vaginal bleeding outside of the regular menstrual cycle. Other vaginal abnormalities may include the sudden development of sores or blister in the vaginal area, changes in skin color, or thick discharge.

As you can see, any of these symptoms could be a symptom of any other illness. Several of these symptoms together could be symptoms of any other illnesses together. If you have any of these symptoms please tell your doctor immediately!!! On an average 22,000 women are diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer each YEAR! And each year 14,000 women die from Ovarian Cancer because it is not caught early enough. The symptoms are silent as you can see. You now know what they are. Print them out! Tell the women in your life! Know your body. Get your yearly exam. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR!! Call your doctor if something shows up. If you wait till your appointment or wait till “later” it may be too late.

Since I was “one of the lucky ones” I have decided to use my remission to bring awareness to Ovarian Cancer. Please see these Facebook groups to read more and get involved in spreading the word with me.

Ovarian Day of Silence

Ovarian Cancer Awareness