Ovarian cancer is a freaking scary disease. According to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, early diagnosis is really important, but because the symptoms aren't always obvious, most women aren't diagnosed until they're already in an advanced stage of the disease. There is no screening test - which means, contrary to what many believe, it is not detected in your pap smear (that would be cervical cancer). Only about 30 per cent of women whose ovarian cancer is diagnosed in an advanced stage (sadly, the majority) will survive for more than five years.
I remember reading these statistics in the office, when Sah told us about her diagnosis. We were terrified for her. Less than five years? Impossible, I thought. That can't happen. It can't be right. Not to Sah.
Less than three years later, here we are.
The thing I will always remember about Sah is her strength. She was amazingly positive and fierce. She didn't like to focus on the disease, but instead on living life. She was an inspiration to me and so many others in so many ways. She was bright and bubbly and intelligent and funny and incredibly, incredibly brave. She was also passionate about advocating for ovarian cancer research and awareness. She wrote about her journey on her blog, See How I Run, and it's an amazing read.
I wasn't sure about writing this post, because it's not exactly related to the rest of my blog. But I not only want to honour Sah, I also want all the beautiful ladies I know - and don't know - to be aware of ovarian cancer and its symptoms. The Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation explains that symptoms include:
- Vague abdominal pain or pressure
- Feeling of abdominal fullness, gas, nausea, or indigestion different to your normal sensations.
- Sudden abdominal swelling, weight gain or bloating
- Persistent changes in bowel or bladder patterns
- Lower backache or cramps
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Pain during intercourse
- Unexplained weight loss
As you can see, the symptoms are pretty vague and can be explained away by so many things. But it's good to be aware of them so that if you do experience any, you can get it checked out by a doctor. Chances are it won't be ovarian cancer - but it's worth being sure.
If you're interested in donating to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, here is how you can do so.
Rest in peace, Sah.