Ovarian Cancer is one of the most deadly cancers among women. Recent figures from the National Cancer Institute show that in 1999 more than 25 thousand women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and more than 14,000 died from the disease. One reason the overall survival rate is low, is because diagnosis often doesn't come until the disease has spread. It is most common in women over fifty, and the risk increases even more after age sixty, but ovarian cancer occurs in younger women more often than people may realize.
A young coast woman can identify with that story, and she wants others to learn from her experience. 33 year old Amy Chaiklin has created the "Research for Ovarian Cancer and Continued Survival" charity, dedicated to educating women about the disease.
Amy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 29 years old. But it took years to get the right diagnosis in January of 1998.
She says the diagnosis was a shock, "but it was a relief that I knew what it was, but the whole cancer issue, the "C" word, was a shock to me and my family". Before her diagnosis Amy says she battled symptoms that included pelvic and abdominal pain for years. Some of her problems even dated back to high school. She went from one doctor's appointment to another, trying to get a diganosis. Over the years treated her for everything from irritable bowel syndrome to endometriosis. Her symptoms continued, and she refused to ignore them.
"I didn't know anything was seriously wrong, but I knew something was wrong. I was in constant pain". Finally, during a laparascopic procedure, she got her answer. She had convinced her doctor to do the procedure. She says he was expecting a hernia or endometriosis, but that's when she "found out I had ovarian cancer". The cancer had spread from both ovaries to the abdomen. She said, "Initially the fact that I may never be able to have kids was harder to accept than the fact I had cancer". Amy signed a waiver which allowed her to keep one of her ovaries. After surgery and chemotherapy, she has been cancer free for three and a half years. She says her family, including fiance Bob helped her through it. She explained, "I had to call him over the phone while he was in the midle of the Atlantic Ocean and it was a perfect opportunity for him to walk away, and he's been with me ever since."
Now Amy wants to help others. Her non profit "Research for Ovarian Cancer and Continued Survival", or R.O.C.C.S. charity, is designed to raise awareness. She says the "primary mission is to increase the number of women being diagnosed early and surviving longer." She has this advice for women. Listen to your body and educate yourselves. "Nobody knows their body better than themselves, and everybody needs to be an advocate for their own health."
For information on Amy's non profit charity, go to www.roccs.org or call her at 328-1213.