Ladies, would you recognize the warning signs of ovarian cancer? Ovarian cancer can be a deadly disease. It is the fifth most common cancer in women, affecting 1 in 73. However, because the symptoms and warning signs are usually subtle, it often goes undetected.
Unlike breast cancer, which is the “rock star” of women cancers, with a vibrant pink campaign encouraging women to do self screening and get mammograms, little is known about ovarian cancer. However, one woman in Newfoundland is doing something to change that. Bonnie Morgan is an ovarian cancer survivor, who, (along with her co-chair, Alana Walsh-Giovannini, a dedicated committee, and the support of Memorial University), has made it her mission to raise awareness and understanding of ovarian cancer, and in doing so, she hopes to help save lives. Here is Bonnie’s story:
In late 2008, I moved home to Newfoundland for a fresh start. I was 52, happy to be home, healthy, just starting a new relationship and was high on life. Exercise and good food were always important to me. I never smoked, and only drank socially.
It all started just over a year after returning to Newfoundland. I seemed to be feeling a little more bloated than normal, and it didn’t go away as I expected. I thought the bloating was due to menopause, as after all, I was at that age. I decided to see my family doctor for a check up and was given the appropriate physical exam. She felt something during the exam that was suspected to be a cyst; however, just to be sure she sent me for a blood test and an ultrasound. When the results came back, I was in total shock. I had stage three ovarian cancer.
I was heartbroken and terrified all at the same time. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. My life was shattered-a cancer diagnosis was the furthest thing from my mind, as to my knowledge, there was nothing like this in my family history. I had gone from being, what I thought, was a healthy woman one day, to a frightened and confused person with what could be a terminal disease. Not unlike most women, I didn’t know the signs or symptoms of ovarian cancer, nor did I know much about cancer itself.
Two major surgeries and nine cycles of chemotherapy later, I thanked God every day that my wonderful family, sincere friends and the devoted gynecologists at the H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre were there to support me through this difficult time in my life, because there was not doubt, both physically and mentally, it is devastating.
Four years later, in early 2014, my cancer returned. Emotionally shocked by the recurrence, I underwent an additional six months of treatment in the fight for my life.
Ovarian cancer is extremely hard to detect and my experience has made me realize that I can help other women by sharing my story. I want to do what I can to educate others about the facts, risks, signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and raise funds to advance research into prevention and treatment here in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Bonnie’s initiative to promote awareness of ovarian cancer in NL, has spawned a new, exciting initiative: The Ovarian Cancer Research and Education Fund (OCRE), at Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Faculty of Medicine. I am happy to report that I (Florence) will be a presenter at the second OCRE project, taking place on Saturday, September 15th, a day of interesting sessions and informative lectures. Hope to see you there!
To register, CLICK HERE