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The Teal Brigade brings awareness of ovarian cancer

August 11, 2019

The color is teal, sometimes described as a soft greenish-blue. The month is September. And the cause is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. We want to get a jump start by flying teal ribbons, wearing teal-colored rubber bracelets and displaying those teal lapel pins.

I am an ovarian cancer survivor. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that cancer wants you to be quiet about this disease. It won’t like the attention. Lewes will be decorating its main street with Turn the Towns Teal ribbons. This year, Rehoboth will participate by putting up ribbons, and displaying literature and flyers. The explosion of color you will see in Lewes and Rehoboth is very encouraging to women and very distressing to cancer. The Delaware Ovarian Cancer Foundation sponsors the events. It is an active organization. 

This is a disease that strikes at the very fabric of our society, women. The more knowledge you have, the better are your chances of catching and dealing with this disease early. It often is considered a silent threat in that it presents very few complaints to make a diagnosis. But some of its symptoms are obvious – there may be abdominal distress, bloating, urinary symptoms and pelvic pain.

Last year, Newsweek magazine had a whole summer issue devoted to cancer. One of the writers, not identified in the article, sums it up best, “Cancer doesn’t care that you are a good mom, a hard worker or someone who files their taxes on time. Everyone, good, bad, young or old, has the potential to end up sick.”

It’s not our intention to pit one disease against another. Every illness is worthy of attention, solutions and recognition. When a month is designated for a disease, we should lend our support. We do not want to paint a bleak picture, because cancer is often manageable.

In my case, after slogging through surgery and chemotherapy, I went into remission. But cancer has no friends and is shunned by everyone. That’s why it has to keep reproducing itself. And it will find a way back. My remission lasted a year, and then the disease came back with a vengeance. Early-stage ovarian cancer is likely to be treated more successfully. But it can spread to the pelvis and abdomen in later stages.

Cancer is defined as when cells in an area of the body grow abnormally. Ovarian cancer is categorized in three forms: epithelial, germ cell and stromal. Ovarian cancer is the seventh leading cause of cancer among women, and it especially rears its ugly head for women over 60.

Don’t be fooled by ovarian cancer. In my case, I had no history of cancer in my family. I did not have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. And I had no symptoms. It was found by accident when I went in for a test for a different reason. Make sure you have regular checkups and be aware of possible differences in any system of your body.

Although I am again in remission, the side effects of treatment may take their toll. Nerves are tingly, memories fade and there is that constant looking over your shoulder for the shadow that often shows up on scans. There are plenty of support groups in the area that can help.

I cope by putting on more makeup. I never watch the news any more, since there is much ado about nothing when you are in a constant battle with an unseen force on a personal level. The one thing I do every day is get back in the fray. You keep going, for you are today’s warrior.

For more information, contact Sally Oberle, DOCF vice president and Turn the Towns Teal coordinator, at 302-463-3800 or email her at sallyoberle@comcast.net. Get involved and think teal very soon. Everyone will thank you.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.