Rally Raises Awareness of Ovarian Cancer
Sept. 9, 2011 | A set of risers displaying 140 teal high heel shoes was a blatant reminder to visitors at the state Capitol on Aug. 30 of the Arkansas women who will lose their fight with ovarian cancer this year.
The Heels of Teal were on display as part of the Arkansas Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s fifth annual Ovarian Cancer Awareness Rally, held in conjunction with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Teal is the color associated with ovarian cancer awareness.
Survivors and their loved ones gathered at the event to educate the public about early detection of this often misdiagnosed disease.
The rally also was sponsored by the New Outlook Program at St. Vincent Health System. Amy Lasseigne is chairwoman of the coalition.
Ovarian cancer symptoms can be subtle, but must not be overlooked, said Alexander “Sandy” Burnett, M.D., chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. ”We have some exciting and promising new drug therapies in the works that hopefully will improve not only survival rates but also lessen the side effects associated with ovarian cancer treatment,” he added. Burnett is a professor in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, a division of the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer include persistent bloating, pelvic or stomach pain, feeling full quickly after eating, and changes in bowel or urinary habits.
If found in its earliest stage, ovarian cancer has a cure rate of 95 percent, but because its symptoms often mimic those of gastrointestinal disorders, they are often overlooked until the disease has significantly progressed.
The program also included the reading by Arkansas state Sen. Linda Poindexter Chesterfield of a proclamation naming September Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in Arkansas, and comments by 14-year-old Ian Tullos about his mother’s diagnosis six years ago.
A luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion followed the rally. Gov. Mike Beebe, whose mother experienced ovarian cancer, addressed the group, along with Brian Bohrer, author and a son who recently lost his mother to this disease. Ed Ethridge, husband of a survivor, read a poem dedicated to all survivors. Pamela Smith of KATV was emcee.
According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 21,880 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010 and 13,850 women will died from the disease. It ranks fifth as the cause for cancer death among women.