Joanie

Shawhan

In Her Shoes

Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer

Boomers Making A Difference

STS cow

Coffee in hand, the 3rd year medical students wander into the conference room and take their seats across from us. We are ovarian cancer survivors.

 

Today, the three of us are presenting to their class. We follow the guidelines from Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women’s Lives® program sponsored by the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.

 

Our goal is that these aspiring doctors will recognize the symptoms of ovarian cancer, and provide early diagnosis thus increasing longevity for these women.

 

Our leader engages the group with her charm and theatrical flare. She recounts the statistics related to ovarian cancer: over 22,000 women diagnosed per year, 81% in the latter stages.

 

Ovarian cancer is not the silent killer, but the disease that whispers. Its symptoms, though vague are often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome or a urinary tract infection.

Each of us shares her unique story, focusing on her symptoms. For me, I had several episodes of nausea that mimicked the flu. It culminated one night when I rolled over in bed and felt a grapefruit-size mass in my abdomen.

 

I encourage the students as I conclude, “If ovarian cancer niggles in the back of your mind, trust your gut and pursue it.”

 

As we pour ourselves into these young minds, we hope they will remember the women sitting across from them and our testimonies of survivorship—the faces of ovarian cancer.

 

Yes, we are boomers making a difference in the fight against ovarian cancer.

 

August is Boomers Making A Difference Month. Do you know boomers making a difference?

 

 

The acronym for the symptoms of ovarian cancer used by the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is:

 

BEAT

 

B – is for Bloating that is persistent

E – is for Eating less and feeling fuller

A – is for Abdominal pain

T – is for Trouble with your bladder

 

 

If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor.

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