Ovarian cancer used to be a death sentence. And while the survival rate remains low for those diagnosed in the later stages, early detection of the disease has nearly a 90 percent survival rate according to Stacey Hull, founder of the Austin chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.“We want to educate people about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer,” Hull said. “Early detection is the best chance.” She said that 19 percent of cases are diagnosed in Stage I or Stage II.“If you have symptoms, be persistent and listen to your body,” she said. “A Pap smear doesn’t detect ovarian cancer.” Hull learned the hardest way possible. Her mother had been experiencing symptoms—which include abdominal bloating and other seemingly typical physical changes in the body of a woman between the ages of 35 and 74. Hull’s mother was diagnosed in 1996 with Stage IV ovarian cancer and died in 1998.
“After Mom died, I felt it wasn’t right that we didn’t know about ovarian cancer,” she said. Prior to her mother’s diagnosis, Hull had never even heard of ovarian cancer. “We found the NOCC and it was one of the few places with reliable information.
“We want to raise awareness and be a resource for people who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” she said of the Austin chapter, pointing out that it is not a support group per se.
Part of raising awareness is getting the word out about ovarian cancer through the Run/Walk to Break the Silence 5K on Sunday, August 26. For information and to register, contact the chapter at AustinTX@ovarian.org, or go to the NOCC web site (www.ovarian.org) and click on the Austin 5K link.