MT LAWLEY resident and cancer survivor Helen Clark is urging women to be aware of the warning signs for ovarian cancer as part of a nation-wide campaign.
Ovarian Cancer Australia is urging all Australians to “Know-Ask-Act” to stop women dying from the most lethal gynaecological cancer and change Australia’s dismal ovarian cancer survival rate.
Ms Clark told Guardian Express that the most important thing is to be aware of the symptoms.
“The symptoms can be quite vague. It can be a lot of different things, and nine times out of ten it won’t be ovarian cancer – but you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms,” she said.
A fitness instructor and intensive care nurse, Ms Clark was teaching a class six years ago when she began to feel strong pain in her abdomen. She assumed she was experiencing appendicitis and took herself to the hospital.
Once at the hospital, doctors found Ms Clark had a burst ovarian cyst which was immediately drained. She underwent an ultrasound where it was revealed she had Stage 1C ovarian cancer.
Two weeks after her diagnosis, Ms Clark made the decision to undergo surgery to remove her uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and 20 lymph nodes, and began six weeks of chemotherapy.
Ms Clark had no family history of ovarian cancer and was not aware of the symptoms of it. Since her diagnosis, she has joined Ovarian Cancer Australia as a community ambassador.
OCA is encouraging people to host a Morning or Afternoon ‘Teal’ – teal being the international colour for ovarian cancer – this month to help raise much-needed funds for Ovarian Cancer Australia for research and support programs.
Ms Clark urged women to err on the side of caution.
“Abdominal pain, bloating – or feeling full after eating a small amount, and having to go to the loo frequently – are three basic symptoms.
“Women tend to know their bodies better than anyone so if a doctor tries to fob you off, stick to your guns and seek further information.
“I have heard of a few cases in which people were told not to worry and then were diagnosed (with ovarian cancer) at a later stage.”
Ovarian Cancer Australia’s flagship day, Teal Ribbon Day is the 22nd of February.