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
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
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!