Turn the Towns Teal, a national campaign promoting awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms, is being recognized in downtown Elk Rapids for the fourth year. Thanks to MIOCA (Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance) and a dozen volunteers, teal ribbons tied on lampposts are on proud display in Elk Rapids throughout the month of September for National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
These teal ties tacked throughout town will prompt questions. And hopefully in doing so, will save lives. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic cancer, and as there are no routine screenings or early-detection tests—and the muted symptoms can be easily misinterpreted—only 15 percent of cases are caught in the early stages. Overall, the five-year survival rate for those diagnosed is 45 percent.
“There are symptoms we want people to be aware of; we want gynecologists to be more aware of,” says Debra Frick, MIOCA Board Member. “It’s so easily missed.”
Symptoms of menopause and aging are often blamed instead of ovarian cancer, causing this cancer to be nicknamed “the silent disease.” Ninety percent of women with ovarian cancer report having some of these four vague symptoms:
- Pelvic/abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating/feeling full quickly
- Urinary issues (change in frequency or urgency)
If you experience any of these symptoms, MIOCA advocates you pay attention to them and tell your doctor. Then be proactive. Debra explains the importance by saying women “need to rule out the worst-case scenario.”