By NATALIA HAWK.
A week ago, I knew absolutely nothing about ovarian cancer.
I had no idea that 1,200 Australian women get diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year.
I had no idea that one Australian woman dies of ovarian cancer every ten hours.
I had no idea that it has a higher mortality rate than breast cancer.
Just as an FYI, this post is sponsored by L’Oreal Paris. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
And I had no idea that the already-scary statistics are getting greater as time goes on.
Which is, incidentally, exactly why Megan Gale has signed on to be the face of L’Oreal Paris’ major ORCF (Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation) campaign, designed to drive both awareness and vital research donations for ovarian cancer.
I sat down with her on one sunny Tuesday morning to discuss her involvement in the campaign. As soon as we started discussing ovarian cancer, it was clear that she’s incredibly passionate about supporting the cause – especially after seeing several people in her life affected by cancer.
“I’ve had quite a few people close to me recently – no family members, but people that I work with and a lot of colleagues – that have been diagnosed with cancer,” she told me. “It’s quite heartbreaking to see people go through it, especially when they are going through chemo and losing their hair. But I have seen a lot of people being very strong and very positive and very proactive about bettering their health, getting on top of the disease and beating it. That’s always wonderful to see.”
She explained to me that she gets asked to align herself with different causes on an almost-daily basis. But when she learned some of the shocking statistics aligned with ovarian cancer, she knew she wanted to get involved.
“I wanted to learn as much as possible and arm myself with as much information as possible, so that I could then become involved in spreading the word to other women across Australia,” Megan said. And, as one of Australia’s most well-known celebrities, she certainly is an influential voice – especially when it comes to correcting the misconceptions around ovarian cancer. For example, many believe that ovarian cancer can be detected with a Pap smear test – it can’t be.
So what are the symptoms of ovarian cancer, exactly?
“There is abdominal pain, there’s bloating, any kind of discomfort, fluid retention, which I think you know, just naturally happens every month, so it’s hard to distinguish,” she explained. “And we definitely don’t want people to start panicking. But I think with women, more so than men, women seem to have this gene that just switches off pain and just powers on through. Especially mothers and working mothers – quite often they ignore their health.”
And that’s true. So many women just soldier on through the day, choosing to ignore whatever’s bothering them at the time.
There’s a huge problem with ovarian cancer, though – and that’s the fact that there is no early detection test. Due to a lack of funding, one has not yet been developed.
“It’s not like we can say to women ‘Go and see your gynecologist and get tested.” So right now the majority of women are getting diagnosed at stage 3,” Megan explained to me. “You might have five years at best. By that stage it’s far too aggressive. However – the survival rate if we had an early detection test – if you catch it during stage one you have a 90% chance of survival.”
Which, I think we can all agree, are much better statistics. Especially considering that there is no particular age group at risk when it comes to ovarian cancer – one Australian girl, featured in the Australian Women’s Weekly, was diagnosed at the age of 23 and was found to have a 20-centimetre tumour removed from her ovary and bowel.
So what can you do to help the cause and raise funding for the development of this early detection test? Well. I’m so glad you asked.
“Throughout the month of September we are encouraging women to host their own high tea events,” Megan explained. “By doing that, they can get their friends together and have a fun day and also do a bit of fundraising as well, which is fantastic. They can go on the website and donate as well. We are just encouraging people throughout the month of September to be really proactive in supporting the cause.”
So gather your girlfriends, buy some cupcakes and host your own high tea to bring attention to what is an incredibly important cause.
Alternatively – if you don’t have the time to host a high tea and you’d prefer to simply donate, that’s more than fine. Every last cent is another one put towards finding an early detection test that has the potential to save the lives of so many women.
You can go here for more information on how to donate or host a morning tea.
In Australia, one woman dies every 10 hours from ovarian cancer. The key to changing this statistic and giving women with ovarian cancer a better long-term outlook is early detection. L’Oréal Paris has been a proud partner of the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) since 2009. While awareness of the disease has increased amongst Australians, four in nine women still believe that a pap smear will detect ovarian cancer. The sad reality is that there is no simple early detection test. Ovarian cancer remains a silent killer, with two thirds of women diagnosed in the advanced stage of the disease.
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