KNOWLEDGE IS POWER-“Ovarian Cancer-The Silent Killer”

mom top fundraiser1. How did you discover you had ovarian cancer? Was there a defining predisposition?

Thanks, Heidi, for this question. To tell you the truth, my situation was not so typical. Ovarian cancer is considered one of the deadliest of all gynecological cancers because, sad to say, the symptoms are vague and nondescript. Because of this, it is often diagnosed in the later stages. I discovered a lumpy area in my abdomen, which is not always the case. I felt no pain. I was tired but I thought I was just getting older and needed to change my pace a little. Now that I know the symptoms of ovarian cancer, I realize I missed a few red flags. Once I had an ultrasound done and then a CT scan, it turned out I had two large tumours on both ovaries. Needless to say things moved along pretty quickly and before I knew it I was attending the London Cancer Clinic, and surgery then chemotherapy was imminent.
2. What was your response to the discovery of your cancer? How did your husband and children respond?

Initially, when I went to the doctor for the results of the blood test and ultrasound, a cancer diagnosis was furthest from my mind. My husband had asked me if I wanted him to come. I told him no, I would be fine. I didn’t want him to hear the ‘menopause’ talk that I assumed was coming. When the doctor touched my hand and gently said ‘The news is not good…” I was far from fine. Once she uttered the word ‘cancer’ I did not hear anything else. I came home and fell into the arms of my husband. We cried and prayed together then we determined to prepare ourselves for the journey. That evening we called our children together and shared the news with them. That was the toughest day of my life but I was so amazed by their strength and support.

3. What are some statistics?
Ovarian cancer afflicts over 2600 Canadian women every year and every year 1750 women succumb to this disease. There is no screening test to detect it. But the good news is that when detected and treated early, ovarian cancer survival rate is 90%.
Ovarian cancer is sometimes called the ‘silent killer’ or the ‘disease that whispers’ because the symptoms are vague, non-specific and can be mistaken for other less serious conditions. Some of the more common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
a) Swelling or bloating of the abdomen
b) Pelvic discomfort or heaviness
c) Back or abdominal pain
d) Fatigue
e) Gas, nausea, indigestion
f) Change in bowel habits
g) Emptying the bladder frequently
h) Menstrual irregularities
i) Weight loss or weight gain
The key to being concerned about any of these symptoms is when they persist for more than 2 or 3 weeks.
4. What is Zeal for Teal and how does it tie into Ovarian Cancer Canada?
Zeal for Teal is an amazing annual scrapbooking and crafting event that was the brainchild of my daughter, Amanda Newton. We both wanted to find a way to help raise awareness and when she came up with this idea, it took off like wildfire. The first year we started out in the fellowship hall of our church. Once the word spread and the number of participants grew, we moved to our local arena. Each year we base the day on a theme and have everything from games to auctions to stores and challenges galore. This year’s theme is Alice in Wonderland. It will be another wonderful day filled with remembrance, hope, fun and laughter. We always manage to raise awareness about ovarian cancer through presentations, education and displays. We talk about the importance of early detection, remember our sisters who have succumbed to the disease and we do what we can to raise funds for the Sunflower Seeds team who participate in the annual Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope in Barrie, Ontario.
5. Who are the Sunflower Seeds?
Amanda and I venture out each year with my beautiful grandchildren, Trenton and Jocelyn. Some years we have had others accompany us as part of the Sunflower Seeds Team. So our numbers vary from 4 to 20. Since the flower representing ovarian cancer is the sunflower, we thought it an appropriate moniker.

6. How did your faith provide strength for your cancer journey?
My favourite scripture verse has always been ‘Be still and know that I am God…’ Psalm 46:10a. I had it printed on my business cards for years. But it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, that I realized what ‘being still’ really meant. God taught me a myriad of lessons throughout the year I was being treated. I lost my hair, my dignity and there were days when I thought I was losing my mind. But I learned an entire lifetime of lessons about pride, vanity, kindness, love, faithfulness and how God [not me] is in control. There were many times when God revealed Himself mightily. I could write an entire book on that [it’s on my to-do list.] One of those times was the night before my surgery. Gilles and I had just prayed. I opened my devotional book – and lo and behold – the Scripture reading for that very night was – Be Still and Know that I am God. I slept peacefully; completely reassured that God had my back. Recently my husband has been diagnosed with early stage leukemia. I don’t fully understand why things happen. But I do know I am equipped to face the battle because of how I saw God work as I journeyed through the valley of cancer.
Since my diagnosis and treatment, I have met so many women across Canada with ovarian cancer. Technology is wonderful for linking like-minded souls and helping us to encourage and support one another. My heart breaks, though, when I hear of a friend who doesn’t make it. I wonder about the fragility of life. I sometimes deal with survivor guilt, but then God reminds me once more, Who is in control. So I trust and carry on.

7. How can Canada help?
Zeal for Teal committee members including Amber Tuck, Darlene Hauser, Rosemary Latham, Sue Bauman, Amanda and I are thrilled that so many people across Canada are joining in and helping to raise awareness and funds. It is an ongoing battle as researchers seek an early detection test. Early intervention will improve the chances of survival for women with ovarian cancer. Guaranteed. We are extremely grateful that you, Heidi, are helping us get the word out. We are amazed at how the ZEAL FOR TEAL PENNY APPEAL is taking off. The government is getting rid of the penny and Zeal for Teal is doing what they can to get rid of ovarian cancer. It is an exciting prospect collecting pennies for the cause. We have stationed jars and alerted people to save their pennies. Would you consider joining us? Help us make a noise and raise awareness and funds so that one day this so-called silent killer can be eradicated. All monies collected go to support the Sunflower Seeds Team as they participate in the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope, September 8th, 2013.
Ovarian cancer can affect us all; mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, cousins – families everywhere. Cancer knows no boundaries and shows no mercy. Here are ten practical ways that you can help:
1) Be aware of your body and alert your doctor if something doesn’t seem quite right or if symptoms persist.
2) Spread the word. Inform your family and friends about the insidiousness of ovarian cancer and how early detection is the key.
3) Pray for those who are afflicted.
4) Offer to help even in small ways if you know someone going through the rigours of chemotherapy. A listening ear is good. A meal or two is appreciated. A helping hand around the home can be a blessing. See where the needs are and address them.
5) Save your pennies. Give to the Zeal for Teal Penny Appeal.
6) Check out the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope website http://www.ovariancanada.org/Walk-of-Hope/Index and consider attending a walk or pledging another participant.
7) Contact Ovarian Cancer Canada and arrange for a Knowledge is Power speaker to come to your workplace, church, women’s group. http://www.ovariancanada.org/KnowledgeAwareness/Knowledge
8) Consider blogging about ovarian cancer to help raise awareness.
9) Donate directly to Ovarian Cancer Canada http://www.ovariancanada.org/Donate
10) Host an event such as Zeal for Teal in your hometown to help raise awareness and funds.

May God bless you for your prayers and for your generosity. Thank you, Heidi, for inviting me aboard and for allowing me to share a little of my passion. Joy for the Journey – Glynis

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One Response to “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER-“Ovarian Cancer-The Silent Killer””

  1. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?

    Thanks,

    Cameron

    cameronvsj(at)gmail.com

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