What do you know about ovarian cancer?
By John O’Hare
Ovarian Cancer is the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers, the 10th most common cancer found in women, and the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among American women. Ovarian cancer rates are the highest in women aged 55-64 and the median age at which women are diagnosed is 63. Approximately 15,000 women diagnosed with the disease will die from it in the year 2017. The overall 5-year survival rate (the percent of diagnosed women still living 5 years after a diagnosis) is 89% for a breast cancer diagnosis, 72% for a cervical cancer diagnosis, and 46% for an Ovarian Cancer diagnosis. It is a deadly disease.
If diagnosed early, when confined to the ovary, the 5-year survival rate is over 90%. Unfortunately, due to the cancer’s non-specific symptoms and the lack of early detection tests, only 19% of all cases are found at stage 1. If caught in stage III or IV, the survival rate can be as low as 29%. Methods exist to reduce the risk but nothing exists to prevent the disease. Regrettably the exact causes of ovarian cancer are not known.
Detection is a matter of the disease symptoms, which are subtle and which can also be indicative of other problems. Women need to know their risk factors and the potential symptoms of the disease. The key to detection is the number of individual symptoms and their frequency. Women need to become more informed and thus better enabled to be assertive in speaking to their health care providers. Here are some signs to look for:
- pelvic or abdominal pain
- difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
- pain with intercourse
- back pain and
- menstrual irregularities
The Karene O’Hare Ovarian Cancer Memorial Fund was established in 2009 and is funded through the annual Hare and Tortoise New Quarter Park Run/Walk. The 9th annual Run/Walk will be held on Saturday, September 9 at New Quarter Park. Race day registration begins at 7:45 am, a one-mile fun Run/Walk at 8:30, a 5K Run/Walk at 9:00 and an 8K Run/Walk at 9:10. The registration fee is $30.00 if paid by August 31 and $35.00 if paid after August 31 and on race day.
The Run/Walk is conducted in partnership with the Williamsburg Community Foundation, which is a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. Donations to the Foundation are deductible to the extent permitted by law.
To date, we have donated over $129,000 to help fund the Ovarian Cancer Programs offered by the Lackey Free Clinic and the Olde Towne Medical & Dental Center to screen, treat and educate women about this lethal form of cancer.
In November 2016 we established The Karene O’Hare Ovarian Cancer Memorial Endowment Fund at the Williamsburg Community Foundation (WCF). The Endowment Fund is a permanent source of funds, which enables us to achieve ongoing donation sustainability in our continuing efforts to build and strengthen the significant Ovarian Cancer health care that Lackey and Olde Towne provide for our community. The net income raised by the annual Memorial Run is added to the Endowment Fund corpus. The investment income from the Endowment Fund is donated annually to Lackey and Olde Towne to support their Ovarian Cancer Programs.
Our ability to continue funding ovarian cancer programs depends upon the generous support of our donors, our sponsors and our Run/Walk entrants. Simply put we need the help of everyone to successfully fight this disease. Please join us in this fight by becoming a donor or a sponsor or by signing up to participate in the event.
Karene O’Hare passed on October 8, 2008 from Ovarian Cancer. For a full year before Karene’s diagnosis, she began experiencing abdominal discomfort. When her symptoms persisted, she visited her internist who could not diagnose the problem. Finally, in March 2007, Karene was diagnosed with Stage III C Ovarian Cancer. Prior to the diagnosis, she was extremely healthy – running daily, eating healthy food, and visiting her doctor for regular physical check-ups.
For 18 months Karene underwent 10 surgeries, two rounds of chemotherapy, horrendous side effects, and more suffering than any woman should face. Karene fought her battle until her last breath. As she returned home from the hospital for the last time in hospice care her loved ones from all over the US and Canada surrounded her. At her passing, she was surrounded by her extended family who prayed, cried, and felt her deep love.
Her family decided that to help with their healing process they would follow her spirit of giving. The Karene O’Hare Ovarian Cancer Memorial Fund was born during their soul searching as they continually posed the question “What would Karene want us to do?”
Visit our web site at: www.hareandtortoiserunwalk.com for more information on ovarian cancer, on signing up for the Run/Walk and on how to become a donor or sponsor.
John O’Hare is a retired attorney who lives in Williamsburg and is the run director for the Hare and Tortoise Run/Walk. To learn more about the Hare and Tortoise Run/Walk, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.