Cancer Survivors

Olympic Gymnast Shannon Miller on Ovarian Cancer

September 14, 2011 at 5:11 pm , by

“Listen to your body,” my mom always says. She has practiced what she preaches, which is one of the reasons she is a cancer survivor.

“Listen to your body” was the lifesaving message being put forward at the lunch I attended today, sponsored by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecological cancers. That’s because there’s no screening test available and the signs are subtle, so it tends to be caught late. But symptoms do exist (see the list below), and when ovarian cancer is caught early, the 5-year survival rate is more than 90 percent. So women who listen to their bodies have a great shot at beating this deadly disease.

The featured speaker at today’s lunch was Shannon Miller, the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history and an ovarian cancer survivor who was diagnosed earlier this year at age 33. (That’s me towering over her in the picture.) Miller says she almost delayed going to her gynecologist for a checkup because, as a business owner and the mom of a toddler, she just didn’t have time. But something told her to make that checkup a priority. And, during a routine pelvic exam, her doctor found a baseball-sized tumor. It turned out to be malignant.

Keeping that appointment probably saved Miller’s life. Take care of yourself, she urged today. Make those appointments. As women and moms, we often put ourselves last. But Miller pointed out that you can’t take care of your loved ones if you aren’t healthy.

Talk to your doctor if you have the following symptoms for more than two weeks:


*pelvic or abdominal pain

*trouble eating or feeling full quickly.

*Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often.

These symptoms are common and usually don’t mean ovarian cancer. So don’t freak yourself out! But do follow up with your doctor. And listen to my mom and to the NOCC: Listen to your body!