Ovarian cancer survivor says screening saved her life


In 2011, a Canton woman was watching FOX 2 and saw a Health Works segment in which we talked to someone about ovarian cancer and the lack of good, reliable screening. That conversation prompted her to check things out -- and she believes it saved her life.

Sonia started paying attention to her body.

"The signs are very subtle. Weight gain, bloating; you think it's normal but it really isn't," she says.

In 2013, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It took several chemo treatments, but now, four years later, the 78-year-old is bouncing back.

Statistics show that one in 75 women will develop ovarian cancer in her lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates about 22,000 new cases a year and that 14,000  women will die.

There's no good screening for ovarian cancer. Instead, Karmanos Gynecologic Oncologist Shelly Seward says, instead, pay attention to your body.

"Know your body and know the symptoms. Bloating; feeling like distended; you can't really eat as much as you used to; pants aren't fitting as well; pelvic pain and pressure; changes in the way you go to the bathroom; and your bathroom habits. Everyone has it on occasion and it gets better. If those symptoms persist, you need to go see your doctor," says Dr. Seward.

Making women aware of the symptoms is the goal at events like Wheels and Teal in Rochester Hills. It's the work of  the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance to raise research, money and awareness.

For Sonia, it's these gatherings, her dedication to exercise and her ovarian support group called Teal Sisters Support Network of Ann Arbor that keeps her strong.

"No matter how much friends or relatives might be supportive, they just don't really know what you go through or how you experience anxiety," Sonia says.

For more information on ovarian cancer, CLICK HERE.

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