September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. In order to shed more light on this disease that plagues the lives of many women, MadameNoire interviewed Ovarian Cancer advocate and award-winning research scientist Colletta Orr. Orr, who is also the author of Cancer Doesn’t Always Win; A Comprehensive Guide To Beating Breast and Ovarian Cancer, noted in our Q&A how women often ignore the physical symptoms of ovarian cancer and why they fail to remove their reproductive organs in order to save their lives. She also gave insight on why so many doctors fail to diagnose women with the disease.
Does spirituality make a difference in how a patient adjusts to breast cancer?
According to recent studies, the answer is yes. It does depend, however, on whether spirituality/religiosity was already part of a patient's life prior to
diagnosis. The complex thing about defining spirituality is that it has so many meanings. I like to think that spirituality means "a feeling of being
connected to something larger than yourself." (This is just my opinion). I think it is also a feeling that all beings are interconnected, and there is a
higher purpose or reason for life events. Therefore, you don't necessarily need to belong to, or follow the tenets of a particular religion in order to be
Breast cancer involves endless decisions: lumpectomy and radiation or mastectomy? Some women elect to have a
bilateral mastectomy (both breasts removed), so they feel safer. These decisions can be really scary for a woman to talk
to her friends about. It may sound like she's asking for advice, and you may feel under qualified to give it.
Don't worry……..no one expects you to be a medical expert. Your role is to act as a sounding board. Listen to everything she
says without judgment, letting her bounce her thoughts off of you. Help her weigh the pros and cons, but let her make the
decisions. And make it clear you'll be behind her 100%. Try to listen for the fears and other emotions underlying her decision,
and offer as much emotional reassurance as you can.
Fatique is a daily battle for most breast and ovarian cancer patients. Whether it comes from “chemo brain” or the overall stress of having been diagnosed with cancer……it can cause you daily routine to be dysfunctional. Many patients with cancer neglect to tell their doctors they are experiencing fatigue because they incorrectly believe nothing can be done to alleviate it. The good news is that there are measures you can take to minimize the adverse effects of fatigue.
Here are some good places to start:
No direct link has been established between lifestyle habits and the risk of a breast cancer recurrence, but surviving cancer is a great occasion to evaluate habits. "A cancer diagnosis represents a teachable moment," says Julia Rowland, PhD, director of the National Cancer Institute's Office of Cancer Survivorship. "It gives you a chance to make lifestyle changes that can benefit your general health and cancer status."
Here are some good places to start:
The benefit of knowing a family’s health history is that it offers clues to a person’s risk for particular diseases. If you have several relatives who developed cancer at an early age, for instance, that might inform your decisions about screening. If breast or ovarian cancers run in the family, you might want to have a conversation with your physician about ways that you can reduce your risk.
Thanks to the success of awareness campaigns over the past decade, a diagnosis of breast cancer is no longer the death sentence it would have appeared to our parents and grandparents. In fact this is a cancer from which the vast majority of women – 85 per cent - will recover and go on to resume normal lives. And if the cancer is picked up at an early stage during a screening that statistic is even higher.