For Women

This is the first in a series of articles I will write about from time to time. The first is about SIGNS of Ovarian Cancer.

I received an email and was asked to forward it to everyone I know. That was written by  woman diagnosed with OVARIAN cancer. She had NO OVARIES, yet she developed ovarian cancer. It is a long e-mail. I am re-typing it almost verbatim for all the women who come to my BLOG.

This is the story of KATHY WEST. “As you all know, I have Primary Peritoneal Cancer. This cancer has only recntly been identified as its OWN type of cancer, but it is essentially OVARIAN Cancer. iBoth types of cancer are diagnosed in the same way, with the ‘tumor marker’ CA-125 Blood Test, and they are treated in the same way – surgery to remove the primary tumor and then chemotherapy with TAXOL and CARBOPLATIN.

I want to save others from the same fate.

That is why I am sending this message to you and hope you will print it and give it or send it via e-mail to everybody you know.

“One thing I have learned is that each of us must take total responsibility for our own health care. I thought I had done that because I always had an annual physical and PAP smear, did a monthly self breast exam, went to the dentist at least twice a year, etc. I even insisted on a sigmoidoscopy and a bone density last year. When I had a total hysterectomy in 1993, I thought that I did not have to worry about getting any of the female reproductive organ cancers.”

“Little Did I Know. I don ‘t  have ovaries (and they were HEALTHY when they were removed), but I have what is essentially ovarian cancer. Strange, isn’t it?

These are just SOME of the things our Doctors never tell us: ONE out of every 55 women will get ovarian or primary peritoneal cancer. The ‘classic’ symptoms are an ABDOMEN that rather suddenly enlarges and constipation and/or diarrhea

I had these classic symptoms and went to the doctor. Because these symptoms seemed to be ‘abdominal’, I went to a gastroenterologist. He ran tests that were designed to determine whether there was  a bacterial infection; these tests were negative, and I was diagnosed with ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome’. I guess I would have accepted this diagnosis had it not been for my enlarged abdomen….It looked like I was 4-5 months pregnant!

Therefore, I insisted on more tests.

They took an x-ray of my abdomen. It was negative. I was again assured that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and was encouraged to go on my scheduled month-long trip to Europe…I could not wear any of my slacks or shorts because I could not get them buttoned, and I KNEW something was radically wrong. I insisted on more tests, and they RELUCTANTLY scheduled me for a CT-Scan (just to keep me quiet, I think).  This is what I mean by ‘taking charge of our own health care.’

That’s right, 754! If the number is slightly above 35, you can have another done in 3 to 6 months to keep an eye on it just as women do when they have fibroid tumors or when men have a slightly elevated PSA test (Prostatic Specific Antigens) that helps diagnose prostate cancer.

Tests revealed cancer cells in the fluid. FINALLY the doctor ran a CA-125 BLOOD TEST and I was property diagnosed.

I HAD THE CLASSIC SYMPTOMS FOR OVARIAN CANCER and yet this simple CA-125 blood test had never been run on me, not as part of my annual physical exam and notwhn I was symptomatic. This is an INEXPENSIVE and simple blood test!

‘PLEASE, PLEASE tell all your female friends and relatives to insist on a CA-125  blood test every year as part of their annual physical exams. Do not let your doctor tell you ‘it isn’t necessary’. My cancer was caught at STAGE 3! You must insist on this test……

The NORMAL range for the test is betwen zero and 35. MINE WAS 754!

That’s right, 754! If the number is slightly above 35, you can have another done in 3 to 6 months to keep an eye on it just as women do when they have fibroid tumors or when men have a slightly elevated PSA test (Prostatic Specific Antigens) that helps diagnose prostate cancer.

Having the CA-125 test done annually can alert you early, and that is the goal in diagnosing any type of cancer – catching it early.

Do you know 55 women? If so, at least one of them will have this vry aggressive cancer. Please go to your doctor and insist on the test and have one every year for the rest of your life. FORWARD this message to every woman you know and tell all of your female family members and friends. Though the median age for this cancer is 56, women as young as 22 have it. Age is no factor.

A note from the R.N.

“Well, after reading this, I made some calls. I found that the CA-125 test is an ovarian screening test equivalent to a man’s PSA test prostate screen which my husband’s doctor automatically gives him in his physical each year and insurance pays for it). I called the general practitioner’s office about having the test done. The nurse had never heard of it. She told me that she doubted that insurance would pay for it. So I called Prudential Insurance company and go the same response. Never heard of it – it won’t be covered. I explained it was the same as the PSA test they had paid for my husband for years. After conferring with whomever they confer with, she told me that the CA-125 would be covered. It is $75 in a GP’s office and $125 at the GYN’s. This is a screening test that should be required just like a pap smear (a pap smear cannot detect problems with your ovaries). You must insist that your insurance company pay for it.

Please take a moment to send this out to all those you can be it male or female. It should not matter as they can forward it also to those loved ones they know. Thank you”.