Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year

Happy New Year to all my friends & family. May this new year bring love, health & prosperity to all. May we also get one step closer to a cure for Ovarian Cancer.

Much love. xo

Friday, December 30, 2011

Genetic Variation Can Predict Ovarian Cancer Outcome

Reported from the December 5, 2011 Science Daily website.

Yale Cancer Center researchers have shown that a tiny genetic variation predicts chances of survival and response to treatment for patients with ovarian cancer.

New genetic test may help guide the treatment for women with ovarian cancer.

Read the full article here:
Genetic variation predicts chances of survival

Much love. xo
New logo I'm working on..what do you think?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Girl with ovarian cancer incorrectly gets pregnancy diagnosis

BBC News is reporting that a 17 year old girl went to her General Practitioner with stomach pains and the doctor pushed on her stomach and told her she was pregnant, but probably miscarried.

She and her mother went to the hospital and got an ultrasound and it revealed a tumor.  She was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer and had a hysterectomy and chemo therapy.

This is just one more example of why we need to spread awareness.  The symptoms are not obvious if you aren't looking for them.

Read the full story here:
BBC News 17 Year Old Misdiagnosed

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Breast Cancer Vaccine Could Also Reduce Ovarian Cancer Tumors

Article from Medical News Today states that new vaccine developed by researchers at the University of Georgia and Mayo Clinic in Arizona dramatically reduces tumors in a mouse model.

Researchers think that it could reduce tumors in breast cancer, ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer cases.

Link to the article:
Breast Cancer Vaccine Developed by UGA and Mayo Clinic

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Year

I miss my Mom every day, but this Monday will mark the one year anniversary of her passing.  I'm not sure how it has been a year already. It seems like just yesterday we were talking every day and driving to and from chemo once a week.  It seems like yesterday that she was holding my children and watching them grow. Now it is a year later and she hasn't been here to see them get bigger or to give me a hug. I don't understand how this happened, but I know that she wanted there to be more awareness about this disease.

This blog was started because of my Mom.  I started it because she said there was no info out there and women just weren't aware of the symptoms.  This has to change and that is why I am here today. I started out strong with this blog and stopped working on it when I got sick again.

But, now I am BACK...I am going to be devoting most of my time to building this blog and raising awareness for this horrible, horrible disease. It all starts with one person talking to another person, and then another, and so on.  It also comes down to one person reading my blog and then telling another person, and then another, and so on.

Please feel free to follow my blog.  Feel free to add comments and make this an interactive experience. I will be adding links to articles, research and anything I can find about Ovarian Cancer.  You can also follow tealforlife on twitter.com.  I would also like you to buy a shirt so that we can get more people talking and learning about Ovarian Cancer. 

My mom August 2010
Thanks for all of your support.

peace & love

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Study Lighting Up Cancer Cells to Kill Them

A new technology developed at Purdue University actually makes cancer cells glow, so surgeons can see what they have been missing.

CBS News Reports New Study Makes Cancer Cells Glow

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Scientists Developing Blood Test to Detect Lung Cancer

An article was published yesterday on Voice Of America News regarding new developments in early detection for lung cancer. 

This is also an important topic for me, and one that is close to my heart. I lost my Grandpa in November of 2010 to lung cancer. 

He went to the doctor in February and his only symptom was shortness of breath.  They did a CT scan and it didn't show anything abnormal - he was told he had COPD and he was sent home .  In May they did another CT scan because he wasn't feeling any better and that's when they found the cancer.

My Grandpa was healthy for most of his life and was diagnosed in June 2010 with Stage IV Lung Cancer and died within 5 months.

Scientists are developing a blood test to detect lung cancer. According to the World Health Organization, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, claiming an estimated 1.5 million lives each year. This blood test is similar to the CA 125 test for Ovarian Cancer in that it detects protein signatures.  They are hoping that they can develop the tests so doctors can use it on patients at risk for lung cancer within two years.

This is great news for early detection.

Blood Test for Early Lung Cancer Detection

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Combined-Tool Imaging May Spot Hard To Detect Ovarian Cancer

Medical News Today is reporting that a new study using only minimally invasive surgery and a device that combines three unrelated imaging tools may help diagnose early-stage ovarian cancer in high risk women.

Researchers from the University of Connecticut and the University of Southern California propose the new approach may be better than the current method of preemptive removing of the ovaries.

New Combined-Tool Imaging May Spot Hard To Detect Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer One-Sheet

Print out this sheet courtesy of Dr. Oz and NOCC and take it with you to your next GYN appointment.  It's a great starting point.

My mom wasn't diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer until it was in Stage IV. She was mis-diagnosed for almost a year. Don't wait. If you have symptoms, talk to your doctor sooner rather than later.

Ovarian Cancer One-Sheet

Monday, September 12, 2011

Daughters with the BRCA Gene Diagnosed 8 years earlier than Mothers were.

Medical News Today reported that daughters with the BRCA Gene diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer 8 years earlier than their mothers or aunts were.

Daughters diagnosed 8 years earlier

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Story of Kansas City Woman With Ovarian Cancer

This is an amazing story about a difficult decision. It is heart-wrenching to hear what they went through, but I know they aren't the only family who has had to face such challenges.

A husband loses his job and enlists in the Army to get medical coverage for his wife who is suffering from Ovarian Cancer.

http://www.kansascity.com/2011/09/08/3127823/woman-whose-husband-joined-army.html

Check it out.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

More About Mom

Sorry I've been offline for a few weeks. I'm back now and we're still in the beginning of September so remember the entire month is dedicated to Ovarian Cancer Awareness. Do your part to bring awareness to everyone you know.

Whether it is through your teal toes or your teal shirt - know that I appreciate everything you are doing to raise awareness. It is exactly how my mom would have wanted it.

Back to my mom. It has been a while since I've talked about her and I want to share her stories with you. September 2nd would have been my mom's 59th birthday. It is just weird to look at that "would have been". I hate that this horrible disease took her too soon. 

My mom lived through a lot in her 58 years. She was married to my dad for 19 years before he passed away. He had a heart attack at 39 and passed away at 41. She was too young to be a widow. She had a grown daughter (me) and 2 very small children (ages 5, my brother & 6, my sister). She struggled to find herself in the years that followed and was in a dysfunctional relationship for most of 10 years.

Like I said in earlier posts, she knew something was wrong when she was 55 and it took until she was 56 to be diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. She had a total hysterectomy and when the doctors did the surgery they found the tumors had spread to her colon and intestines. When she woke from her surgery, she found she had a colostomy bag. This really didn't make her happy at all..that's all we heard about for months. But, I was happy to have my mom for as long as I could keep her.

I will share more of her story soon. I miss her so much and I'm getting a little overwhelmed at the outpouring of love, friendship and the little things that add up to huge things. Thank you to everyone for your support in my endeavor to bring awareness to everyone. Much love. xo

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Teal Toes for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month


My toes are ready for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Are yours?

New UK Study on Link Between Ovarian Cancer and Ovarian Cysts

More testing is needed, but a new UK study shows that postmenopausal women who suffer from ovarian cysts do not have an increased risk of cancer.

See the article in the Health24 link.
Ovarian cysts and Ovarian cancer

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Causes Ovarian Cancer?

Doctors aren't sure what causes Ovarian cancer, but some studies have indicated the following as risk factors:

  • Family history of breast, ovarian or colorectal cancers
    • Increased risk if your mother, sister or daughter has/had the disease
    • Risk increases the more relatives you have with Ovarian cancer
  • Not having children and/or not breastfeeding
    • Women who have had children decrease their risk. This risk reduces even further with each child they carry
  • Obesity
    • Obese women (over 30 BMI) have higher risk
  • Smoking
  • Fertility drugs
    • Some studies show that using the fertility drug Clomid for more than one year can increase your risk of developing Ovarian tumors.
  • Hormone replacement therapy
    • Women taking estrogen after menopause have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer
  • Age - specifically women who have gone through menopause
    • Half of all Ovarian cancers are found in women over the age of 63
  • Talcum powder
    • Talcum powder applied directly to the genital area or on a sanitary napkin may be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to the ovaries 

These are not all of the risk factors, but something to get you thinking.  I never thought about "risk factors" when it came to cancer. The obvious is smoking, but not all smokers get lung cancer and not everyone with lung cancer is/was a smoker. 


More information can be found here:
Web MD. Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer
ACS Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors

Share this information with someone you love.
One step at a time is all we can do. It all starts with the first step.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Importance of Testing for Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer because it is not usually caught at an early stage, as was true with my mother.  It is something that you must be vigilant about if you have any of the signs or symptoms of Ovarian cancer.  You must also be vigilant if you have a family history of either breast cancer or ovarian cancer, as there is an increased risk of you having the disease.

Earlier I talked about the warning signs of Ovarian cancer:
Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
Loss of appetite or feeling full quickly
Pelvic discomfort or pain
Lack of energy
Abdominal pressure, fullness or bloating
Constipation and/or increased frequency of urination
Low back pain

Now I want to talk about the tests that are used to find if you are at risk for Ovarian cancer:

CA 125 is a blood test measures the amount of the protein CA 125 (cancer antigen 125) in your blood. It isn't always a reliable form of testing as it may be missed in early Ovarian Cancer detection, but for someone at high risk due to family history it may still be a good idea to have it checked.

Not all insurance companies cover the cost of this test. Talk to your doctor and insurance company about what is covered.  It can be added to any routine blood test.

Please read this link for detailed information about this test.
CA 125 Test

BRACAnalysis is a genetic test that can let you know your risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) by identifying a BRCA gene mutation.  Most insurance companies will pay for a portion of the test if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancers. My insurance company covered it completely.

My mother's oncologist did tell me that if you get a negative result on your BRACAnalysis, it may be a false negative and the test would have to be done again.  Insurance companies may not cover the second test.

Please read this link for more information.
BRACAnalysis

Methods that doctors use to diagnose Ovarian cancer are:
Pelvic exam
Transvaginal ultrasound
Surgery to remove samples of tissue for testing

More information can be found on the MayoClinic website.
Ovarian Cancer Tests and Diagnosis

Overall, it is extremely important to speak up and talk to your doctor about what you are feeling.  If you have any of these symptoms, call and make an appointment.

When my mom started seeing doctors in 2008, they gave her antacids because her stomach always felt "full".  They weren't aware or didn't notice the symptom of Ovarian cancer. Finally, she saw the episode of the View that talked about Ovarian Cancer and the CA 125 test.  She called her doctor and asked for the CA 125 test and when the results came back extremely high, that is when they scheduled the transvaginal ultrasound and found all the tumors. 

One of the reasons I started this blog is so that we can raise awareness and money to help fund early detection of Ovarian Cancer.  It's only the first step in this very important journey.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Gene Therapy May Help Ovarian Cancer

Gene therapy has been used to treat three patients with leukemia and has successfully wiped out the disease. 

Two of them are still cancer free a year after treatment and the third is improved, but still showing some signs of the cancer.

What is exciting is that researchers want to try this technique on other forms of cancer like pancreatic, prostate, brain & ovarian cancers.

Read more in the link below.

New Technique Used to Treat Cancer


It is just a start, but that's what we need - a first step.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Legislation

This was on the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Web site.

new florida law educates about ovarian cancer

New legislation was signed into law by Gov. Scott that should allow for easier access to eductational materials about gynecological cancers in Florida. Hopefully this is just a first step in a long journey.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pictures of My Beautiful Mother

Mom in 1975
Mom with her grandsons in 2008
Mom with her granddaughter in 2010

Your Body is a Song

Don't worry I'm not about to get all John Mayer up in here. I'd like to talk about the scientific side of whats going on inside the body. I read this very simplified idea a few years ago and thought it was interesting: Your body is a song. On a CD a song is a pattern of code called a .wav file. When you create a digital copy of it you get a perfect copy of the song. Then someone created .mp3's, a way to copy the song that takes out parts of the code that represents overlapping sound frequencies from different instruments to compress the file. Sometimes a file gets corrupted and you get a song that does not copy correctly. On an iPod or your car stereo it is easy to miss but on a expensive, well designed sound system you will hear the distinction.

So how does this apply to us? Think of your DNA as the .wav file. Your DNA is a pattern of code that tells the cells in your body how they are supposed to act. Cells die and are regenerated every day according to the DNA pattern. Sometimes a cell doesn't get the instructions correctly. There are a lot of reasons this can happen, but if the cell doesn't get the correct instructions it can mutate or die without being replaced. Parts of the code are left out, kind of like .mp3's. Cancer cells mutate, meaning they can grow, double or share the mutation with other cells. There are two types of mutations: benign and malignant. When a group of cells mutate but stop growing and don't travel in the body its called benign. When they grow out of control or travel and multiply they are considered malignant and can be very deadly. This is a very simplified example of what is going on, for a more detailed explanation you might want to check out this article. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/cancer-oncology/

Because of the way that cancer cells multiply early detection is the key to fighting it. Cancers that are close to the surface like skin, mouth, testicular, and breast cancer are sometimes easier to see or be felt earlier. The opposite of that are cancers that more interior, like prostrate, lymphoma, leukemia, and ovarian are harder to see in the beginning, which is why they are so deadly. By the time that symptoms are apparent it's often in stage III or IV. Going back to our song analogy, think of an MRI or other medical test as the more expensive sound system. All cancers can be deadly but finding them early is the key to getting treatment and stopping them. In our next few posts we will talk about testing and ways you can start fighting right now.

-Shane

Friday, August 5, 2011

Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

The scientists always call Ovarian Cancer the silent cancer or the cancer that "whispers".  We learned the hard way.  My mom knew something was wrong and kept going to doctors for six long months to get tests and find out the reason she didn't feel well.  All the doctors said not to worry and it there wasn't a problem.  She was dismissed by the doctors that she had been seeing.

One morning in May 2008, she was watching "The View" on TV and someone spoke about the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer and she sat up and said "those are my symptoms".  She immediately called the doctor and told them she thought she had ovarian cancer and wanted to be tested.

After what seemed like a lifetime of running tests (blood tests, ultrasounds, etc.), it was confirmed that she did have the disease.  Unfortunately, she was told by the doctors that she only had three to four months to live - six months at the most. 

I want to give you a list of the symptoms.  They seem like symptoms that any woman can have for any reason, but you want to listen to your body.  Don't delay in talking to your doctor if you are having any of the symptoms, especially if they are getting worse.

Warning Signs:
Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
Loss of appetite or feeling full quickly
Pelvic discomfort or pain
Lack of energy
Abdominal pressure, fullness or bloating
Constipation and/or increased frequency of urination
Low back pain

These are not all the warning signs, but they are important signs to recognize.  Please take the time to listen to your body when it speaks to you.


-Sherry

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Our Mission

My mom was 56 when she was diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer.   She went through numerous rounds of chemotherapy and surgeries that were meant to help. She was in a coma for 6 weeks. She survived for two years and passed away in December of 2010.

She was a strong woman. She had the best laugh and the best hugs. That's how I want to remember her.

I miss her every day and I don't think that there is enough information out there about Ovarian Cancer so I've decided to start this blog. My goal is to promote awareness, provide information, share inspiring stories and resources to those looking for help. 

I remember researching on the internet for anything regarding Ovarian Cancer, but I could only find scattered information. This has to change. 

I want to hear from others who have supported those with Ovarian Cancer (other gyn cancers or any cancers), those who have lived through these cancers and who are survivors. Anyone who believes in getting the word out like I do.

-Sherry