I will be celebrating World Ovarian Cancer Day on May 8, 2020, with Cure Our Ovarian Cancer, the world’s only charitable organization solely focused on funding research for low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma, by using my #PowerfulVoice to increase awareness of this disease and fundraising for research.

One in 70 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in their lifetime and less than half will survive five years. Since 2018, COOC funding provides important research around the world for a rare strain of ovarian cancer that disproportionately affects young women. In-person events to support fundraising efforts have been canceled/postponed due to the current COVID-19 situation.

The COVID-19 global pandemic is causing huge financial strain on charities across the world. The implications for low-grade serous cancer research are worrisome. Low-grade serous research funding is a scarce resource. The need for targeted funding is critical to avoid delays to new, potentially life-saving treatments.

My journey with low-grade serous ovarian cancer began with my diagnosis in September 2019. In the seven months since my surgery, I have undergone chemotherapy and started a drug protocol that will hopefully keep my cancer at bay. My stage IV ovarian cancer diagnosis was life-changing. I’m using my #PowerfulVoice to raise awareness so more women will catch their disease early when it’s easier to treat. I also provide support to organizations around the world funding ovarian cancer research.

Research is desperately needed to find treatments to improve survival. Women are seeking to raise funds for the research they need to save their lives. They also want women to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be vague or variable. They overlap with other less serious conditions. There is no screening test. Because of this many women go undiagnosed for a prolonged period of time.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Possible symptoms inc
  • abdominal bloating/swelling
  • abdominal/back/pelvic pain
  • urinary frequency or urgency
  • eating less and feeling fuller
  • change in bowel function
  • indigestion
  • unintentional weight loss
  • painful intercourse
  • unexplained fatigue
  • menstrual irregularities

If the symptoms are new, unusual, or worsening and last for more than two weeks it is important to see a doctor. Ovarian cancer is usually detected by a scan, such as an ultrasound or CT, and CA-125 blood test.

Younger women, like those with low-grade serous carcinoma, have an increased risk of delayed diagnosis. Diagnosis at stage I, when the cancer is contained within the ovary and usually curable, is rare.

There is a pressing need for more research. Rare cancers like low-grade serous account for nearly half of all cancer deaths but receive less than one-sixth of all research funding.* The drugs women currently receive are 20 to 40 years old.

Although low-grade serous is frequently incurable once it has spread beyond the ovary (stages II to IV), it is a relatively slow-moving killer. More research, sooner, is the key to helping the approximately 100 000 women with the disease. There is a real possibility that with sufficient funding, researchers could find treatments to significantly improve their lives.

I am asking people to donate through Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to Cure Our Ovarian Cancer (COOC). All the donations given will go to low-grade serous carcinoma research. I hope we can dramatically increase the amount of research. We want to live full and healthy lives.

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