Before you continue reading my post, there is something you should know about me. I am twenty one years old and have never thought about ovarian cancer before interning at SHARE. I guess you can say that I have been fortunate enough to not have any close friends or family affected by the disease.
Still, cancer in general is an illness very dear to my heart. Every year, I volunteer and fundraise for an overnight event that my college participates in called Relay for Life.
A special program that happens during the night is Luminaria, where survivors and caregivers speak about their experience with cancer and how they have been affected. Hundreds of paper bags are lit by candles inside and decorated to honor or remember those we have lost to cancer. I always got a warm feeling from watching hundreds of people sitting together and passing on the message of hope and a never give up attitude until cancer disappears from this world. But, this year it was different.
A fellow classmate had passed away at the beginning of the semester from ovarian cancer. She was the same age as me. She was a normal college student, active in school, had a bright future. Although I was never close with her, I knew she was a sweetheart and always donned a sweet smile and positive attitude. She certainly didn't look like a person to be struggling with such a consuming illness. Nobody deserves to be diagnosed with cancer, not her. The news came as a total shock to me, where at one point I thought somebody was just making a crude joke. I didn't even know people this young could get ovarian cancer.
I think her passing was definitely a wake up call for me. I now realize that women of any age can get ovarian cancer. At SHARE, I've learned how important it is to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer and have it detected at an early stage.
The symptoms include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
These symptoms sound like so many other diseases which make it all the scarier and causes physicians to misdiagnose it. Becoming aware of these symptoms is the first step to fighting ovarian cancer.
If you think you have these symptoms or would like to learn more about ovarian cancer, you can talk to someone who's been through it by calling SHARE's Ovarian Cancer Helpline at 866-537-4273. Or click here for more information.
Sharon is a Communications Intern at SHARE