NOCC URGES WOMEN TO BE AWARE OF OVARIAN CANCER THIS MOTHER'S DAY
President Barack Obama’s mother was only 52 when she died of ovarian cancer.
Actress Angelina Jolie’s mom was 56 when she died from the disease.
New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, Golf Hall of Famer Dianne Dailey, activist Martin Luther King III, and countless other Americans have also lost their moms to ovarian cancer, making Mother’s Day an emotional reminder of their loss.
“Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me,” says Wendy Lancaster Homer, Co-Chair of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s (NOCC) Board of Directors. “I feel so much love as I celebrate my mom who died when she was only 58, but I also miss her dearly.”
Last year some 21,550 U.S. women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the deadliest of all the gynecological cancers, and about 14,600 died. That’s why this Mother’s Day the NOCC is urging all women and their families to pay close attention to the disease’s warning signs.
“We feel for those who have lost loved ones to this disease. Too many women die every year from ovarian cancer, and many deaths could be prevented,” says David Barley, NOCC’s Chief Executive Officer. “When ovarian cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is over 90 percent. Unfortunately, though, 75 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in their later stages when prognosis is poor.”
Unlike breast, cervical and several other cancers, there is no accurate screening test for ovarian cancer. Women should see their doctor if they experience symptoms such as bloating, gassiness, abdominal or pelvic discomfort, backache that gets worse, increased urinary frequency or vaginal bleeding that lasts for more than a few weeks. If a woman has a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, she might also consider being tested for the BRCA gene.
Dianne Dailey, named Coach of the Year by the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 2001, knows from experience the importance of paying attention to warning signs. “With ovarian and breast cancer affecting all but one of the females in my family on my mother’s side, most of the females on my mother’s side (my mother and two of her three sisters) passed away before the age of 62. The other sister died in her 70s of breast cancer,” she said. “It is important to be aware of what your body is telling you. If you exhibit any of the signs of ovarian cancer, see your doctor.”
Dailey, head coach of Wake Forest University’s championship golf team, became so concerned about developing ovarian cancer that she underwent a hysterectomy before BRCA gene testing became available (she ultimately tested positive). “I was proactive with surgery and I am convinced that is the only reason I am alive today,” said Dailey, who turns 61 in July. “Research has come a long way, but there is still much to do to find a cure.”
Wendy Lancaster Homer says she, too, longs for the day when ovarian cancer will be cured. In the meantime, she will do what she does every Mother’s Day since her mother passed: she will make a donation to NOCC in her mother’s honor.
ABOUT THE NOCC
The NOCC is dedicated to raising awareness and increasing education about ovarian cancer. Established in 1995, the organization is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with this cancer. For more information, contact Ronni Blaisdell, Director of Communications, at 973-944-0719 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please visit the NOCC at www.ovarian.org.