Think teal! Think positive - September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September 20, 2020

The color is teal, sometimes described as a soft greenish-blue. The month is September – National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It’s still not too late to show your support 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. Hopefully the pandemic won’t put a dent in the spotlight. In the past, Lewes and Rehoboth would participate by putting up ribbons, and displaying literature and flyers. The explosion of color you would see on the main street in Lewes and in the business windows in Rehoboth was 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 your chances of identifying this disease early. It often is considered a silent threat in that it presents very few complaints by which to make a diagnosis. But some of those symptoms are obvious; there may be abdominal distress, bloating, urinary symptoms and pelvic pain.

A few years ago, Newsweek magazine had a whole summer issue devoted to cancer. One of the writers, not identified in the article, summed 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 deserving 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.

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. 

There are plenty of support groups in the area. Make sure you have regular check-ups and be aware of differences in any system in your body.

Ovarian is the seventh leading type of cancer among women, and it especially rears its ugly head for women over 60.

Although I am again in remission, the side effects of treatment take their toll. Nerves are tingly, memories linger, and there is that constant looking over my shoulder for that shadow that often shows up on scans. 

I cope by putting on more makeup. I never watch the news anymore, 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. I and others keep going, for we are today’s warriors.

For more information, contact Sally Oberle, DOCF vice president and Turn the Towns Teal coordinator at 302-463-3800 or email her at Get involved, and think teal! 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.

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