Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thoughts I shared at the Edison Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Press Conference

This morning for the third year in a row, Mayor Jun Choi called a press conference to proclaim Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in Edison. Below is a draft of the speech I gave at the press conference.

Thank you Mayor Choi, for giving me another opportunity to talk about ovarian cancer. I am pleased to see Edison be part of the Turn the Towns Teal campaign for the third year in a row.

Why do I come back each year to hang teal ribbons?

My answer is - Sharon, Lyn, & Thelma.

Sharon, Lyn, & Thelma are three friends who lost their lives to ovarian cancer since last September. Then there is Gail - KOH founder and a driving force behind the Turn the Town Teal campaign. Sadly she passed away last year after an eleven year battle with OC.

Then there is Janice and I.

Janice and I are Edison residents and survivors of recurrent ovarian cancer. OC affects not only the women who are diagnosed; but the families and the communities these women are a part of. Janice is unable to be with us today because she is in treatment. Raising Awareness is the reason why the Lopez and Sparacio families and friends return each year to hang Teal ribbons.

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In 2005, I along with over 21,000 other women in the United States was diagnosed with OC. Of those ~21000 almost 700 women were diagnosed in NJ.

OC causes more deaths than any other gynecological cancer and it has no screening test. A Pap test does not test for ovarian cancer but rather cervical cancer. It is this lack of a screening test that makes OC awareness in Sept so important.

Research has shown that there are subtle symptoms associated with OC but they are vague and mimic other disorders and diseases. When women see these teal ribbons they should think about these symptoms


Abdominal or pelvic pain

Difficulty eating and

Urinary urgency

If those symptoms occur daily for more than a two weeks women should see a doctor, preferably a gynecologist.

I had some weight gain before I was diagnosed but the most predominant symptom was abdominal pain. I mentioned the pain to my gynecologist at my annual physical and after reviewing the results of tests I had she sent me to the gynecological oncologists at Cancer Institute of NJ in New Brunswick. In July 2005 I had surgery and was diagnosed with stage 3 epithelial ovarian cancer. Two weeks later, I entered a clinical trial at CINJ and after 9 cycles I was told I has no sign of disease.

Last October after more than 2 and half-years in remission my cancer returned; this time on my liver and Spleen. Last November I had surgery and in January began chemotherapy finishing in April after having 6 treatments.

Over the past 4 years I became active with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the northern NJ National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and became a board member of the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation, which raises funds for ovarian cancer research.

Members of KOH, NOCC their family and friends are making a difference by hanging teal ribbons and raising awareness of Ovarian Cancer throughout NJ.


Every Day is a Blessing.

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