Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Big C, It's Not Always Pink


September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It's a topic that is, frankly, very hard for me to write about here.

My first experience with ovarian cancer came in college. My best friend's mother was diagnosed and she came to the barn where I kept my horse after getting the phone call and just sobbed. I remember my horse Jordge putting his nose up against her cheek and leaving it there while she cried.

Ovarian cancer is a silent killer. Doctors are much better at recognizing the symptoms, but we as women are not. Even the month designated to raise awareness of the disease pales in comparison to October and the pink month to follow. It's a quiet, insidious disease with symptoms that are far to easy to ignore. I know this, firsthand, because I was diagnosed in October 2011, at the age of 34. 

The thing is, I had no idea that I had cancer. My symptoms were easily explained, and so easy to miss. Bloating, feeling full, weight gain, and drum roll please... that was it. I mean seriously, what would you think if this was happening to you? Probably you'd think that it was that time of month, not enough exercise, too much time spent sitting at the computer at work, hitting my mid 30's, can't eat like when I was in my 20's anymore, blah blah blah. It's all so explainable

Eventually I realized something was "off" and I needed to see a doctor.  The doctor thought the tumor was the size of a cantaloupe by this time. (It actually was the size of a football when removed a less than a week later.) Had I not sought help, I would have died. I even seriously considered skipping the doctor because I was too busy at work. In fact I would have, had my employer not required a doctors note for 3 days consecutive absence. I am so unbelievably lucky to be able to look back at my own stupidity.

Here are the symptoms of ovarian cancer from ovariancancer.org

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
See your doctor, preferably a gynecologist, if you have these symptoms more than 12 times during the course of one month and the symptoms are new or unusual for you.
I encourage everyone reading to take the time to use the link above to further about ovarian cancer. Familiarize yourselves. And, I cannot say this enough. We suck at recognizing the symptoms in ourselves. I could nag my husband to death about his eating habits, or whatever, but I figured I just needed to make some lifestyle changes and I'd be OK. I didn't need to see the doctor. Wrong, wrong, wrong. My intention is not to be an alarmist, but if you experience a symptom, and it persists, go and get thyself into the stirrups, ladies. Better to know and fight than ignore and make excuses.

If you've made it all the way through this post, thank you. Since this is a quilting blog, I'll share what I intend to do this month. 

 This cute little FQ bundle was available at a LQS. The pearl cotton spools I had picked up two years ago because they were teal and I knew I wanted to use them for an ovarian cancer quilt somehow. I'd like to make a mini or a wall hanging celebrating my fight and hand quilt it. 


Linking up to these awesome linky parties. Spread the TEAL this month! 


  1. I'm so glad you made it through that horrible time in your life. You show an amazing amount of strength and I appreciate your message on this topic. You are right...those symptoms are so subtle. Thank you for the information and good luck on your goal.

  2. It is too easy for women to dismiss symptoms as something minor.... I'll deal with it later, after the kids, after the husband, after the job, after.... Thankfully you caught your cancer early enough. Thank you for the reminder of the signs and symptoms of this silent killer. Your fabrics and threads are beautiful. Blessings to you.

  3. HI Heather, I don't normally comment on blogs but wanted to say Good on you for sharing your story and raising awareness.What a horrid disease and I am glad you are now well.
    All the vey best to you going forward
    With love and hugs
    Sue in Perth WA

  4. Thank you for this post. Great information to keep in the back of my mind. I appreciate it.
    I see that you are a new blogger. Welcome! This is such a fun community and I will enjoy keeping up with your projects!

  5. Congrats on your victory over ovarian cancer! I can't wait to see what you create with those gorgeous teal fabrics and perle cottons.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story and making others aware of the very ordinary signs. Before she retired, my mother was a clinical researcher who worked with women who had ovarian cancer. We've done or volunteered at the Walk of Hope in our community every year since it began. Did you know that there is actually Ovarian Cancer awareness fabric? I have some in my stash and would be happy to send it to you if you like.

  7. This sounds so much like my moms story. Sadly her battle has been ongoing for about 4 yrs. The tumor just keeps coming back. We're on tumor #3, chemo starts soon. Thanks for sharing your story. Looking forward to seeing the mini.

  8. That must be incredibly difficult to diagnose, since we woman tend to have those symptoms regularly. Thank you for sharing your story and spreading awareness. You've inspired me to add my teal quilt as my finish this month too. <3

  9. Thank you for sharing on such an important topic.

  10. I'm glad your story is positive, and that you are working on a new project to celebrate your health! Thank you for sharing.

  11. So happy you didn't skip the most important appointment of your life! Looking forward to your quilt that will celebrate you!!
    I am a two time breast cancer survivor, this last time just a year ago. We need to make everyone more aware of all health issues that effect our lives! Some are really hard to detect like yours!
    Looking forward to reading your blog for a very long time!!

  12. So happy to hear you are a survivor! My cousin was diagnosed with stage 3b ovarian cancer last June. After many rounds of chemo and surgery, she is in remission. It is a scary! Especially since the symptoms are so common. And sometimes it takes the doctor or doctors forever for the diagnosis. Thank you for sharing your story.

  13. Thank you for sharing such important information!


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