Fighting Ovarian Cancer 2020
“You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.” ~ Stuart Scott
Story by Kristi O’Keefe
2020 has been a year like no other. As the pandemic swept across the globe and changed our world forever, we all had to work to adapt to the new normal. Although it has halted life in so many ways, the one thing it has been unable to decelerate is cancer. Now, more than ever, cancer needs advocates with strong voices. For OVERRUN Ovarian Cancer Foundation (OOCF), that voice, although virtual this year, remains loud and determined.
According to the American Cancer Society, one in 78 women will develop ovarian cancer in her lifetime. It represents the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women and, to date, there is no approved or effective method for detecting the disease. (Contrary to common belief, a Pap test does NOT detect ovarian cancer.) In 2020, 21,750 women will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer. For those diagnosed in the earliest stages, the 5-year survival rate is greater than 90%. Due to ovarian cancer’s non-specific symptoms and the lack of an early detection test, however, nearly 80% of cases are diagnosed in the later stages. Until there is a test, awareness is the best defense.
Know the Symptoms! Ovarian Cancer Whispers.
- The four major symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Feeling full quickly after eating or difficulty eating
- Urinary symptoms such as frequency (having to go often) or urgency (always feeling like you have to go)
Other symptoms include excessive fatigue, upset stomach, back pain, painful intercourse, constipation, menstrual changes and abdominal swelling with weight loss. Since these symptoms are also commonly caused by benign (non-cancerous) diseases and conditions, it’s important to note if they are persistent and represent a change from normal. If so, prompt attention by a gynecologist is key.
The good news – there is HOPE on the horizon. The rate at which women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer has been slowly falling over the past 20 years. Scientists continue to study the genes responsible for familial ovarian cancer, and their research is beginning to yield clues which are expected to lead to new drug options for prevention and treatment (American Cancer Society, cancer.org). In order to further these advances, raising funds has become crucial to the fight against ovarian cancer. According to Dr. Andrew Godwin (Professor and Director of Molecular Oncology, KU Medical Center and Deputy Director, KU Cancer Center), “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of daily life, and laboratory-based research is no different. Although most labs at our institute have re-opened after undergoing “hibernation” for several months, the way bench research is being conducted has dramatically changed. Furthermore, research is being impacted by the financial uncertainty, and many large philanthropic organizations have suspended funding grants for 2021 and potentially beyond. The continued support of groups such as OVERRUN Ovarian Cancer remains essential to support cancer research at times when everyone is focused on COVID-19.”
YOU CAN HELP!
The 9th Annual OVERRUN Ovarian Cancer 5K/1Mile is going virtual this year. Since it started in 2012, the OVERRUN event (the main fundraiser for OOCF), has raised over $340,000 for ovarian cancer research at The University of Kansas Cancer Center and patient advocacy across the KC Metro. Such success would not have been possible without the support of the local community, and this year, the event is going national. Participants are encouraged to run or walk from October 11-18, anytime and anywhere! For more information about a virtual race and registration, please visit OverrunOvarianCancer.com.