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Cracking the Teal Code: Your Essential Guide to Ovarian Cancer Awareness!

Updated: Sep 8, 2023


September is cancer awareness month. This image features a technology-style sketch of a uterus and ovaries with a spot on the left ovary. Captioned "listen, it whispers", in reference to the common reference of ovarian cancer as "the silent killer"
Ovarian Cancer - Listen It Whispers

Hey there, fabulous readers! Can I get a virtual high-five for making it to September? I'm not sure where you're from but here in North Carolina it's that time of year when 'wanna-be fall' vibes start teasing us with hints of cooler air and pumpkin-spiced everything, giving us a taste of cozy-autumn before leaving us with another blast of summer heat. But hey, September isn't just playing hard to get with the weather, it's also a month dedicated to something incredibly important: Ovarian Cancer Awareness.

Imagine this: you're crafting the puzzle of your life, each piece falling into place with a satisfying click, when suddenly, the whole puzzle seems to tremble…

You might be wondering, why is a genetic counselor wandering into my puzzle-solving journey? Well, we're diving headfirst into this topic with all the enthusiasm of a kid at a candy store. So, buckle up, because we're about to embark on a journey of empowerment, knowledge, and making teal-tastic choices!

Early Detection: Your Winning Card

Catching ovarian cancer early is like solving a complex puzzle. The sooner you find the right pieces and put them together, the greater the chance of seeing the full picture and taking effective action! Think of it as snagging the last slice of pizza at a party – early detection gives you the upper hand and a darn good chance to triumph. So, why early detection is a superstar move. Did you know that when ovarian cancer gets caught in the early stages, the survival rate can hit a whopping 90%! But hang on, here's the kicker: ovarian cancer is sneakier than a raccoon in a cookie jar. It doesn't make a lot of noise, so being in tune with your body's signals is like having a secret treasure map.

Family and Medical History - The Secret Sauce


Alright, imagine this: your family and medical history are like breadcrumbs leading to a hidden treasure. Just like a trusty map, your health history helps doctors chart a medical treatment course tailored to you. If your aunt and grandma both had ovarian cancer, that's like having the right ingredients you need for your favorite recipe – it really changes the flavor of the conversation!

So, then - What Should I Ask My Doctor?

Don't worry! I got you! I've got a list of questions for your health kit:

  1. What should I ask my family regarding my family history?

  2. What specific factors in a family history could contribute to my risk of hereditary ovarian cancer?

  3. Are there other types of cancers that may be in my family that could be related to the risk of ovarian cancer?

  4. How do you determine if my family history indicates a potential hereditary cancer risk?

    1. Do I need genetic testing and what types of genetic testing are available for me?

    2. How accurate are these genetic tests in predicting my risk?

    3. How will the results of genetic testing affect my medical management and treatment options?

  5. Are there specialists or genetic counselors you recommend for further evaluation and guidance?

  6. How will my cancer risk impact decisions about family planning and fertility?

  7. What should I tell other family members and how can I communicate this with them to ensure that they are aware and are proactive about their own health?

Genetic Testing: The Plot Twist You Need

Genetic testing is like discovering a hidden passage in your favorite book – it reveals a whole new world. Genetic testing can tell you if you have certain genetic changes that increase your risk of ovarian cancer. It's like seeing a blueprint of your health and deciding how to design your future. By understanding your genetic makeup, you can make decisions that are as intentional as clicking the last puzzle piece in place to complete your puzzle. And here's the cool part: you're not just doing it for yourself. You're shaping the health narrative for future generations.

Let's Get Personal: This Information In Real Life

If you haven't already, grab your note-pad and a pen, because you'd want to take notes here… Let me introduce you to two amazing individuals who faced life's challenges with courage and wisdom (names changed for privacy):

Say hello to Sarah, a vibrant 34-year-old artist who brings color and creativity to everything she touches. One day, she found herself puzzled by a series of unfamiliar symptoms – bloating that felt like her jeans were scheming against her, an urge to visit the restroom more often, and a relentless fatigue that no amount of sleep could beat. Sarah knew something was up, and rather than shrugging it off as everyday stress or "everyone experiences these", she decided to listen to her body's whispers. Brilliant move! She scheduled a check-up, and the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place. Her body wasn't just sending signals; it was waving a flag of distress. After a series of tests and visits to specialists, Sarah was diagnosed with early-stage ovarian cancer. By catching her ovarian cancer early, Sarah not only secured her health but also gained more time to continue painting her life's masterpiece. It truly saved her life!

Now, meet Alex, a tech-savvy 42-year-old genius who could decode the secrets of the digital world in his sleep. His days are filled with lines of code, while evenings are devoted to enchanting his daughters (6 and 10) with bedtime stories. Life took an unexpected turn when Alex's mother was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 68. It was a wake-up call that rang loud and clear. Driven by his love for his daughters, Alex took a proactive step. During his annual check-up, he shared his newfound medical history with his provider. Little did he know, this simple act would spark a crucial conversation about family history and the potential hereditary risks it could pose to both himself and his daughters. Alex was offered genetic testing, a step that could also provide invaluable information about his daughters' risks of cancer, empowering them with knowledge to shape their futures. He is currently awaiting his results. Just as he crafts complex lines of code, Alex recognized that every element matters in creating the bigger picture – a future where health is a safeguarded treasure.

Join the Teal Team - Summary: Time to Take Charge!

Alright, you awesome folks, let's turn the town teal! Here's your action plan:

  • Tune in to your body: Listen to those whispers from your body. Feeling off? Go get it checked.

  • Unearth your story: Dig into your family history – it's like unearthing a treasure map that leads to better health.

  • Ask boldly: When you're face-to-face with your doc, shoot those questions. You're the captain of this health ship.

  • Embrace genetic clues: Think about genetic testing. It’s like finding the missing piece to a puzzle, creating a fuller picture of your health.

Remember, knowledge is muscle, and that muscle lets you sculpt your life's masterpiece. Let's lock arms this Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and raise a ruckus that'll echo for miles.

OK, beautiful people, until next time, stay teal-tastic and keep blazing the trail that is YOU.

Nira

*** DISCLAIMER: ***

This blog is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

Resources:


For those of you needing more information about ovarian cancer, please see the links below.

To find a genetic counselor click here


Nira

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Nira Johnson

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