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Ovarian cancer affects thousands of families each year. And despite the fact that this ailment is usually found in older women — over the age of 65 — in the case of Megan Santa Croce, it has been a devastating battle since the age of 15. Diagnosed with a sertoli-leydig tumor in her abdomen attached to one ovary, she spent months undergoing chemotherapy. And in spite of the odds, she miraculously was able to overcome her illness. But, by the age of 22, she had begun her second battle with the disease, and currently has no ovaries, fallopian tubes or uterus. Megan once described her chemo as “a full-time job.” She went on to say that “when [she] was 15, [she] had five days straight of chemo, 8–5, and the doctors had [her] on hydration 24/7 through that entire five-day period.” Regardless of her hardships, she has a message for women of all ages and demographics that are fighting their own battle with ovarian cancer. “Be positive.” Powerful words that emulate her as a ray of light through even the darkest of times. Megan continues to fight on and is truly an inspiration to women everywhere.
In honor of Megan, as well as every other woman battling ovarian cancer, it is important to share the cold hard facts about a widespread condition that, if caught in the early stages, is treatable. We want to hear more inspiring stories like Megan’s and beat the odds this September, which has been designated as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
Ovarian cancer has recently been ranked as one of the top five most deadly cancers for women in the world. And as unfortunate as that is, most women are unaware that they have ovarian cancer or do not seek medical help until the cancer has spread and become hard to manage. The National Cancer Institute estimates that there were 22,240 new cases in the United States last year alone. By being aware of the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer, we can help to raise the survival rate of this serious disease, giving women everywhere a fighting chance after being diagnosed.
Many of the risk factors for ovarian cancer are uncontrollable such as age, race, genetics, and ethnicity. Additionally, there are several lifestyle related causes including obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption.
Environmental Risk Factors
The use of oral contraceptives such as birth control pills have been shown to decrease a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer for those who do not have direct family members who have at some point been diagnosed. While on the other hand, there are certain medications and even household products that may be tied to ovarian cancer due to long term use. Talcum powder, for instance, has recently been proven to be a contributing factor to a California woman’s cancer diagnosis. Johnson & Johnson was found liable of toxins found in their talcum powder to cause mutated genes in a woman’s genital area due to decades of use. Other environmental factors include herbicides and pesticides.
To Decrease Your Risk
- Stop smoking.
- Eat a healthy diet every day.
- Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits.
- Maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise.
- Check personal hygiene product labels for talc and other toxins.
Prevention is Key
Having regular screenings for ovarian cancer is one of the most powerful weapons for prevention. Although many tests are unable to catch early, onset ovarian cancer development, blood tests are the best way to catch the disease.
Following the guidelines mentioned above is the first step in halting what has become one of the most common cancers in women around the world. The more knowledgeable one is about an ailment such as ovarian cancer, the easier it is to spot symptoms early, making treatments much more successful and increase survival rates worldwide.