LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Each year, approximately 21,880 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and it is estimated that more than 15,500 women will die in the United States from ovarian cancer this year.
Many women don't seek help until the disease has begun to spread. The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often subtle and easily confused with other ailments.
Amy Lasseigne from the Arkansas Ovarian Cancer Coalition (AOCC) says that the four main symptoms that may be associated with ovarian cancer are bloating, pelvis discomfort or pain, changes in bladder habits and loss of appetite or energy.
"All of these things can be other symptoms which is what makes ovarian cancer so hard to diagnose," says Lasseigne. "If these symptoms persist for more than four to six weeks, then I encourage you to see a gynecologist."
Symptoms typically occur in advanced stages when tumor growth creates pressure on the bladder and rectum, and fluid begins to form.
In honor of September being Ovarian Cancer Awarness Month, the AOCC is holding a rally and balloon release this Friday, September 7 in the River Market from 4-6 p.m.
"We are launching 200 three-foot balloons from the river," explains Lasseigne. "150 of those signify the women we lost in 2011. The other 50 were bought by survivors."
Speakers at the rally will include: Dr. Becky Stone, Emma & Arden Elliott, Senator Jonathan Dismang and Senator Linda Chesterfield.
Dr. Becky Stone, a gynecological oncologist within the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, will discuss the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and recent research advancements.
Emma (14 yrs old) & Arden (11 yrs old) Elliott, will speak about their experience as growing up as children of an ovarian cancer survivor. Emma was 9 and Arden was 4 years old at the time of her diagnosis and remembers how their mother fought for her life, and won... and the yearly anxiety caused during each follow up. These two girls demonstrate that survivorship is truly a family affair.
Arkansas State Senator Jonathan Dismang will discuss the importance of upcoming healthcare funding as it relates to ovarian cancer patients. During his term in the Arkansas House of Representatives, Jonathan was elected vice chairman of the bipartisan Freshman Caucus and acknowledged by his peers for his outstanding leadership ability. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette named him one of the Top Six Freshman to Watch during the 87th General Assembly and the Three Rivers Edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette named him one of Twenty to Watch.
Arkansas State Senator Linda Pondexter Chesterfield represents Senate District 34, which comprises part of Pulaski County. Senator Chesterfiled will read a proclamation, on behalf of Governor Beebe, naming September Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in Arkansas. During the 88th General Assembly, she served as chairman of the Senate Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs Committee and holds membership on several other committees. A retired educator with over 30 years of classroom experience, Senator Chesterfield continues to remain active in many local, state and national organizations.
This event is free and open to the public.
(Source: Arkansas Ovarian Cancer Coalition)