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Misdiagnosed and misunderstood – ovarian cancer a silent killer

Windsor/Falmouth Walk of Hope raises funds and awareness along waterfront

WINDSOR, N.S. – Charlotte Dorey, who lives in Berwick, participated in the Windsor/Falmouth Walk for Hope for the first time, after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April.

This isn’t her first time dealing with the cruel disease.

“A lot of the symptoms are overlooked as another disease, so it was important for me to come out and walk so I can help to get education out to the women that need to know what the symptoms are all about,” Dorey said.

“I have two cancers, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, while being treated for lung cancer,” she said. “Cancer has impacted my life so much. I think I appreciate life more, it’s a strange thing to say, but the little things in life mean so much more to me now than they ever did.”

She said she’s still processing things as she deals with treatment. She had her surgery earlier this year.

She had the upper-right portion of her lungs removed in January, diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April.

It’s been quite a year, she says. Despite that – she’s out with her family, hitting the trail for ovarian cancer awareness and raising over $600 for the cause.

“I’m really happy about that for my first time and I will continue to be an advocate for ovarian cancer, so we can get the education out to the women who need it.”

Cheryl Barker, organizer of the Windsor/Falmouth Ovarian Cancer Walk of Hope.

This is Barker’s ninth time participating in the annual walk, although she tried to spread the word herself a year before that by passing around cards with information on the disease.

“It’s a silent killer, the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are so insidious that people can brush them off as something else,” Barker said. “By the time they discover they have ovarian cancer it’s too late.”

Barker’s primary goal when starting the walk was to educate the people of Hants County about ovarian cancer and its risks.

“I had a friend who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, but it was too late when she was diagnosed,” she said.

The Windsor/Falmouth chapter raised over $3,500 this year, with more than $40,000 since it began.

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer

Symptoms associated with ovarian cancer are often vague, non-specific and can be mistakenly attributed to other causes. These symptoms can often be experienced by women without ovarian cancer.

Common symptoms include:

  1. Bloating - increased abdominal size/persistent bloating
  2. Eating - difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  3. Pain - in pelvic or abdominal areas
  4. Urinary symptoms - urgency or frequency

Occasionally there can be other symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, extreme fatigue or unexplained weight loss.

Just because you have the symptoms does not mean you have ovarian cancer.

However, if the symptoms are: New – they are not normal for you and may have started in the last year. Persistent – they have been present for more than 3 weeks. Frequent – you notice the symptoms happen frequently - then it is important that you see your doctor.

Research indicates that the symptoms of ovarian cancer may not occur until late stages of the cancer or that listening to them may not improve a woman’s ovarian cancer.

Since there is no screening for ovarian cancer, Ovarian Cancer Canada believes that women should pay attention to their symptoms.

If a woman is aware of symptoms and communicates these to her health care provider, it may help her to get diagnosed and treated earlier.

- Via Ovarian Cancer Canada

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