One of the many campaigns going on during September for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is #IWishIKnew by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition – more details at https://iwishiknewovca.com/ And as I thought about what it was that “I wish” about this whole damn thing…it’s probably anything, to be honest. That I would have known something prior to being diagnosed, because I knew nothing upon hearing the words “ovarian cancer” except that women died from this disease more times than not – currently I feel like I’m a walking information bank for most things OVCA related (I am NOT an expert, I don’t want to be!).
But what if in my gynecologist’s office, instead of seeing all the options for birth control on the walls and counters, there would have been information on ovarian cancer, or any gynecological cancer for that matter? The signs, what to look for, that this wasn’t covered in my annual pap smear – Would it have made a difference or would I have just looked past it like I did everything else because this wasn’t pertinent to me at this point time? Would it have allowed my friends who are currently either STILL in the freaking fight for their lives, one has currently been trying to find SOMETHING, ANYTHING that will work for the last 22 months, others are finishing up and starting treatments for recurrences? These things are something I will never know, unfortunately.
You see, I feel like I’m a fairly intelligent human being and ovarian cancer has made me feel like the complete opposite more times than not – because I just don’t understand how I could have been so completely uninformed about something this serious, this life threatening, that happens to 1 in 75 women. 1 in 75 women seems like quite a lot to me. 1 in 7500, okay, I don’t feel so badly about not knowing…maybe. I think every woman should thoroughly understand what they’re screened for, or not, in their annual pap smear – do you know how many times I was asked when my annual exam was, after I was diagnosed, and looked at like I wasn’t properly taking care of myself when that question was asked?? And then when I would respond with “a year to the date I was diagnosed, almost. Ovarian cancer isn’t screened for in your annual exam, there is no preventative screening test in place,” the looks of shock on the other person’s face is one you won’t forget…because as luck would have it, they didn’t know any of that information either. Nor did they know what the symptoms of ovca were.
So what if all the information was given to us, what if there were informational pieces posted in and around our OB/GYN’s offices regarding not only ovarian cancer, but all gynecological cancers? What if we were specifically told what we were screened for in our annual exam and pap smear – I can’t recall ever having a conversation about this – would it have made a difference in my life or others? Would I have at least known what ovarian cancer was?
Know the signs and symptoms: Bloating, pelvic/abdominal pain, inability to eat/feeling full quickly, changes in bowels/menstrual cycles, frequently needing to urinate. I also have horrible lower back pain and heartburn like nobody’s business!