Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – How You Can Be a Health Advocate for Yourself and Others!


 

For Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Capital Healthcare would like to pay tribute to those who have lost their battle with Ovarian Cancer, and celebrate those who have survived.  We want to educate women everywhere who have not yet been affected by this horrific disease, and raise awareness to save women’s lives.  Also, we want to show our deep appreciation and gratitude for the nurses who spend their working hours helping women just like you each and every day.  Together we can raise awareness and make a difference.

“It couldn’t be…”

“There’s no way…”

“But what if…”

How often do these thoughts run through our minds when we are presented with information we, at first, don’t want to believe or accept?  When we’re young, we picture ourselves growing old and gray, and living long, fulfilling lives.  We don’t envision long hospital stays, serious medical treatments, or prolonged bouts of sickness, much less hearing the words “You have ovarian cancer.”  Unfortunately, for over 20,000 women in the United States this has or will become their reality just in this year alone.

 

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a build-up of abnormal malignant (cancerous) cells that starts in the ovaries.  These malignant cells can then spread to other parts of the body through the lymph nodes and bloodstream, or, more commonly, spread right to other organs located in the abdomen or pelvis.  Benign (noncancerous) ovarian tumors can also occur, but they do not spread or travel.

At stage I, the cancerous cells are confined to the ovaries alone.  However, throughout stages II-IV the cells can spread to other pelvic organs, lymph nodes, the abdomen, liver, and even the lungs.

According to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, “ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women, and is the deadliest of gynecologic cancers.”

What are the Risk Factors?

  • Genetics. Genetics and heredity can play a big part in an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Women can inherit a genetic mutation in two possible genes, the BRCA1 (breast cancer gene 1) or BRCA2 (breast cancer gene 2), which are linked to both breast and ovarian cancers.  According to the Alliance, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 are responsible for 10-15% of all ovarian cancers.  As with most cancers, you should pay close attention to your family history to determine increased risks.
  • Age. While ovarian cancer can occur at any age, the most common age group of women who are diagnosed is 55-64, with a median age of 63.
  • Infertility. Research suggests that infertility can increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. A woman who has had her first child after age 30 is also at an increased risk.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy. Women who routinely take hormone therapy medications to help alleviate menopause symptoms are also at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Obesity. Multiple studies have discovered a common link between ovarian cancer and obesity.

What are the Symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose or pinpoint because they are quite common, and could be mistaken for other conditions.  The four most common symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary frequency or urgency

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance recommends visiting your gynecologist if you have had these symptoms more than 12 times in one month, and if the symptoms are new or uncommon for you.  No one can advocate for your health better than you can!

Some other symptoms can include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Backaches
  • Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath

How is Ovarian Cancer Treated?

Treatments may vary from person to person based on their doctor’s consultation and recommendations, but common treatments include surgery to remove tumors, also known as debulking, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and clinical trials.

Women undergoing treatment may experience side effects such as fatigue, hair loss, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and constipation, nerve problems, intimacy issues, forgetfulness, and mouth and dental issues.

What Can I Do to Help?

It is estimated by the American Cancer Society that in 2016 in the United States—22,280 new ovarian cancer diagnoses will occur, and 14,240 women will lose their battle with ovarian cancer.  If these numbers shock you, join us in raising awareness!  Whether you are paying tribute to a loved one who has lost their battle, celebrating a survivor, fighting the brave fight yourself, or simply don’t want to be a number in this statistic, you can make a difference today.

  • Most importantly, you can have regular check-ups with your doctor and gynecologist, and keep them in the loop with any symptoms you may be having.

  • You can speak with a genetic counselor if you are afraid you may have the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation. The counselor can assess your risks based on your personal and family medical history, and discuss what any genetic testing would entail in order to figure out the best option for you.
  • You can get involved! Download our free resource guide below for helpful ways to advocate, volunteer, contribute, and partner with organizations like the American Cancer SocietyStand Up 2 Cancer, and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.  Every little bit helps, and every person makes a difference!

To the Nurses at the Heart of the Matter – Thank You!

It certainly takes a special person to be a nurse, but it takes an extraordinary person to be an oncology nurse!  The Cancer Treatment Centers of America describe oncology nursing as “one of the most challenging and rewarding fields in nursing.”  If you’ve fought the cancer battle yourself, or had to watch a loved one go through it, you know that there is little to no dignity in the fight.  Cancer can bring you to your lowest of lows, causing you to feel completely powerless and dependent, but the nurses are there.  The nurses see us at our worst moments.  They educate us and try to help us feel in-control again.  They look out for our safety and put on a brave face, even when they’ve seen heart wrenching things day after day in room after room.

For all of those reasons and more, we simply say thank you.  Thank you, nurses, for doing what you do.  Each day that you care for and value others in need, you are making a difference in more ways than you could ever imagine!

Free Download: Ovarian Cancer Resources

Are you a Registered Nurse (RN), Therapist, or other healthcare professional looking for your next exciting opportunity?

 

Capital Healthcare has rewarding positions for Med/Surg RNs, ICU RNs, OR RNs, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and many other specialties in amazing destinations throughout the country!

 

Please contact us today and learn how we are dedicated to helping you achieve your goals.

 

Author: Michelle Adams

Posted by Michelle Adams on Sep 29, 2016 1:28:05 PM
Michelle Adams, Advertising and Social Media Specialist for Capital Healthcare Solutions and Harmony Home Healthcare, enjoys life in Southwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and beloved dog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.