Right now, though, it’s still September, and one local survivor wants to remind all women of another cancer and a different color: teal represents awareness for ovarian cancer.
“I am so passionate about this disease because I am a survivor going on three years,” says Kathleen Knudsen Farmer.
“There is just not enough knowledge about the teal color representing the fight for ovarian cancer awareness. Next month we will be swimming in pink.”
Kathleen’s goal is to raise the profile of teal as the color for ovarian cancer to the level of pink for breast cancer, as both are female cancers.
“Breast cancer survival rates are at an all time high of about 95 percent,” says Kathleen. “Ovarian cancer, due to lack of awareness and research, is at only about a 30 percent survival rate.”
Kathleen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a newlywed, and just six months after their marriage her new husband was shaving her head in preparation for chemotherapy.
“I got my hair back the following winter. It was not that important to me anymore, and I find it curious that I cried when I lost it, and so did my husband, Mark. I think for me it symbolized the disaster of cancer!”
The disaster of cancer. According to the CDC, ovarian cancer is the most deadly form of reproductive cancer. Fortunately, Kathleen prevailed, and now she wants everyone else to be aware of the subtle signs of ovarian cancer, and to be mindful of the color that represents her journey.
“I have been restored by the grace of God,” she says, reminding others that early detection is key to survival. “Chemo has left me with some other health issues like neuropathy, numb feet, fatigue, and ‘chemo-fog brain,’ but I’m getting better with word games.”
And, she knows all her colors.
“Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later.
“When cancer starts in the ovaries, it is called ovarian cancer. Women have two ovaries that are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries make female hormones and produce eggs.
“Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. But when ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, treatment works best. Ovarian cancer often causes signs and symptoms, so it is important to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor, nurse, or other health care professional.
“Changes, or mutations, in BRCA genes can raise your risk for ovarian cancer. The Know:BRCA tool can help you understand your risk of having a BRCA gene mutation.”