I can’t pinpoint when I started to get ovarian cancer symptoms. It was all very subtle and gradual. I was a healthy person. I ran, biked swam, hiked, and went to the gym regularly.
A slight pain in my left side, difficulty digesting food, feeling of fullness, and shortness of breath: those were the subtle constellation of symptoms that landed me in my primary care doctor’s office. At the age of 50, I felt like I was going downhill fast.
Millions of women in the United States have sought treatment for fertility-related problems over the past 35 years. Because many of these treatments –including fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization (IVF) – use hormones to stimulate ovulation, researchers have explored whether such therapies might increase the risk of breast or ovarian cancer.
In 2012, it is estimated that more than 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be found, and over 15,000 women will die from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. Unfortunately, in many cases the cancer isn’t detected until it is advanced. It’s important to recognize the symptoms and urge the women in your life to take early action.
For most people, getting involved with a cause means thinking about what type of organization they’d like to support. But this is a story about what happens when a cause selects you – taps you on the shoulder and asks you to engage in battle.
It began in 1998 when my wife Amy, then 40, was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer. Our two daughters were 5 years and 15 months old. Amy battled for 15 months, and died in 1999. Like many spouses of women who die of cancer too young, my next few years were all about balancing the family boat.
Fast forward to three years later, when I met my current wife, Ruth. We married in 2005 and Ruth adopted my daughters.