To kick off National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, local organizers dyed the water in the Kiener Plaza Fountain in downtown St. Louis teal -- the trademark color of the awareness campaign.
Sometimes called the ‘silent killer,’ ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognize before it’s in an advanced stage.
The rate of survival is low: 20,593 American women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. 14,346 women died, according to the Center for Disease Control. But treatments are most effective when the cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages.
St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness president Lisa Sienkiewicz said that’s why women should know the symptoms: bloating, pelvic pain, urinary problems or difficulty eating. But those symptoms are often common signs for other conditions, such as diabetes or pre-menstrual syndrome.
Sienkiewicz said that's why even doctors might miss a diagnosis.
“You have to be your own health advocate and keep pushing. Know that these symptoms are not normal,” Sienkiewicz said. “Don’t ignore these symptoms, don’t pass them off as growing older or something you can’t pay attention to right now.”
When the symptoms occur together, or happen many times in a month, Sienkiewicz said she counsels women to keep a diary of what they’re feeling and to bring that information to a gynecological oncologist.
“If it’s caught in Stage 1 or 2, it’s treatable and survivable. I’ve survived for eight years,” Sienkiewicz said.
SLOCA is holding a number of awareness events in the St. Louis area this month. For more information, visit www.sloca.org:
“Steps to Ovarian Cancer Survivorship” Course,
Sept. 6, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Richmond Heights Community Center
Free with pre-registration
“Teal Toes for SLOCA”
Sept. 11, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Beautiful Nails Salon
Pedicures cost $26-40. Funds go towards ovarian cancer research
“Fourth Annual Trivia Night”
Sept. 20, doors open 6 p.m., Von Gontard Conference Center at Mercy Hospital-St. Louis.
$120 for a table of eight. Proceeds go to SLOCA.
“Families Run for Ovarian Cancer 5K”
Sept. 21, Registration begins 7 a.m., Soldiers Memorial in downtown St. Louis
Benefits Families Run for Ovarian Cancer, a nonprofit created by the family of Brenda Jorgensen.
“Rise ‘N Shine Yoga”
Sept. 28, 9 a.m. to noon, World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park.
$35 in advance, $40 after September 14.