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Ovarian Cancer: Please Don't Say It Is Lethal

When finding out someone was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, don't respond by telling them the disease is lethal and has no symptoms.
BY Stephanie J. Hammonds
PUBLISHED April 11, 2016
Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by a contributing writer and does not represent the views of CURE Media Group.
When you’re diagnosed with cancer, there are so many feelings to experience that it’s difficult to put a name to them all. A regular listing of emotions stretches from upset, shocked and dismayed to scared and anxious.

After being told I had stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2009, I felt all those emotions and more. But I also wanted to be hopeful that I would find a treatment plan that would put me back on a better track. More unexpected situations arise, however when people hear that a woman has ovarian cancer and make comments that her disease is serious, bad, terrible, deadly, horrible and, worst of all, lethal.

These words are said by friends, relatives, acquaintances and folks in general. I’ve heard them, just as others in my situation have heard them, too. There is never a positive reaction for anyone who has cancer. Stating that ovarian cancer is the “disease with no symptoms” is another one I often hear. This is not helpful and clearly not always true.

Ovarian cancer has gotten a pretty bad reputation over the years, but many aspects have changed, and inroads have been made. Over the last several years came more drugs and more research on the disease itself. There is genetic testing to sort out a woman’s likelihood of having any family-related genetic factors, which can steer doctors to the most beneficial course of action. There are new clinical trials coming out for many types of cancer, including ovarian. There is more awareness, more spoken word, more seminars and more outreach centered around the signs and symptoms. And still, more can be done.

Most importantly, there is more hope and no need to continue the dreary message that ovarian cancer is a "terribly lethal” disease with no symptoms. Any woman, whatever her age, who experiences abdominal distress or symptoms needs to talk her concerns over with her doctor. Ovarian cancer, like so many other cancers, is better treated at an earlier stage.

Above all, please don’t spread the notion that we’re all in terrible shape. We’re working with our oncologists and medical team to handle ovarian cancer. And we're getting some positive results, so let’s concentrate on that! 
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