business pages

NNSL Photo/Graphic


Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Victims share ovarian cancer stories

Marty Brown
Northern News Services
Published Friday, September 2, 2011

Two Yellowknife women shared their stories of dealing with ovarian cancer at an information night last week.

NNSL photo/graphic

Curves employees Catherine Babin-Lavoie, left, and Anna Clark raised more than $500 in a garage sale outside of Curves on Old Airport Road on Saturday morning. All of the garage sale proceeds were going to the Curves team entered in the Ovarian Cancer Canada, Mini Walk of Hope. The Walk of Hope event is being held Sept. 11 from 12 to 1 p.m. starting at the Somba K'e Civic Plaza. - Heather Lange/NNSL photo

The disease strikes 2,300 to 2,600 Canadians each year.

"Listen to your body," said Ursula Harvey, a cancer survivor and mother of two. "Learn the symptoms and don't be put off by medical staff."

The trouble with ovarian cancer is the symptoms are vague and there's no test for the disease kills 1,700 women a year, said Michelle Pilon, the western regional manager of Ovarian Cancer Canada, who held three sessions in the city last week.

"Symptoms are non-specific: bloating, pelvic pain, back pain, nausea, weight gain or loss, change in sleep patterns, menstrual irregularities ... If these symptoms last more than three weeks, see a doctor. People think because they've had PAP tests and HPV vaccine, they're safe. That only tests for cervical cancer," she said. "Ovarian cancer has no screening."

Harvey said the first time she went to a doctor with back pain, he didn't seem to believe her. Later, she ended up in emergency with a kidney infection and was put on antibiotics. After the test results came in, tumours were discovered on her kidney. During the operation, the medical staff found her ovaries covered in tumours.

Barb Bird's experience was similar. She suffered from an upset stomach for about three weeks, gas pains and bloating.

She thought it was menopause, but as the symptoms continued, she got a doctor's appointment who tested her for everything. Three weeks later, the results came in and it was stage three

ovarian cancer.

"So we went to Italy," she said. Two weeks weren't going to make any difference doctors said. After a session of chemotherapy, she was fine until her lungs collapsed. During the medical examination, she found out the cancer was back with a vengeance.

Bird is presently working, anything to keep her mind off cancer, and she and her husband Carl are planning a mini-walk to raise funds for research on Sept. 11.

"I don't have an expiration date on this body. When it says slow down, I do. I also eat right and exercise," she said

Pilon was in Yellowknife conducting information sessions with the public and medical staff.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.