I got the horrific news from Susan.
Our friend, Sharon, she told me quietly over the phone, had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer…and the outlook was grim. Doctors called it Stage 3-C – an extremely aggressive form of the potentially deadly disease.
It all happened so fast.
Within days of her diagnosis, Sharon was scheduled for surgery to re-route a section of her intestines being strangled by the tumors…ending in what hopefully would become a temporary colostomy.
It didn't seem possible. I'd just seen Sharon a few weeks earlier at a festive dinner party at her home celebrating the recent engagement of her 22-year-old daughter, Paige. She was fine. Glowing, in fact.
But now her life was about to be forever changed by the cancer she was unaware had been silently growing inside her.
Sharon admits she'd been bothered by some vague intestinal symptoms in the months leading up to her diagnosis – gas, bloating and indigestion she treated with antacids and Beano. Then one day, the belly pain became unbearable. She was hospitalized and treated for three days for what doctors believed was an intestinal blockage. Her pain only got worse. Further tests revealed the bitter truth.
The tumor with tentacles was choking her colon and was moving throughout her abdomen.
The good news? It’s been several agonizing weeks, but the surgery restored function of her lower GI. All indications are three rounds of chemotherapy have shrunk the tumors. And now there's hope a final surgery to remove what remains…followed by more chemotherapy and radiation… and will restore her to good health.
But the question remains. How could this have happened? Sharon is smart, healthy and in tune with her body. With her signature sense of humor, even she wonders how this "alien being" could have overwhelmed her body, virtually undetected.
Unfortunately, “undetection” is the hallmark of this insidious disease. So while my friend works her way toward a clean bill of health, more than 20,000 new cases will strike women across the United States this year.
What’s frustrating is scientists still don’t know the exact cause of ovarian cancer, so they haven’t found a way to prevent its often deadly progression. So, without the presence of overt symptoms, women need to pay attention to more subtle symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
Although ovarian cancer rarely produces symptoms in its earliest stages, eventual warning signs may include:
• Vague digestive disturbances, such as mild indigestion, bloating, feeling of fullness, or loss of appetite, gas
• Diarrhea, constipation, or a frequent need to urinate
• Pain or swelling in the abdomen, or pain in the lower back or pelvic pressure
• Vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or after menopause
• Shortness of breath
Symptoms associated with advanced ovarian cancer include severe nausea, vomiting, pain and weight loss.
Call Your Doctor About Ovarian Cancer If:
You have unexplained abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, particularly if these conditions accompany the more general symptoms listed in the description section; do not allow such symptoms to continue undiagnosed for more than two weeks.
With great faith and great medical care, Sharon and her family are expecting at a great outcome from her cancer scare. She’s already got a gorgeous dress picked out for Paige’s wedding!
Love you, Sharon!