ovarian cancer

Help Laura Mercier Stop The Silent Killer

September 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm , by

Ovarian cancer isn’t pretty. Known as the “silent killer” because of its tricky symptoms, this cancer is too often diagnosed in the advanced stages when it is hardest to treat. The numbers are heartbreaking: only 15 percent of ovarian cancers are diagnosed in the early stage when it’s most treatable, according to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. (The five-year survival rate is 93 percent for early stage disease, but so far there is no reliable screening test

“When my sister was diagnosed, I was shocked to learn that only a fraction of women in advanced stages of the disease survive,” says Claudia Poccia, CEO of Gurwitch Products (the parent company of the Laura Mercier brand) and co-founder of the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund. Poccia lost her younger sister to the disease in 2011. That’s why she joined forces with Mercier to raise money for research, education and support for women with ovarian cancer. When you buy any of the three products pictured above, 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward research grants and awareness projects. You can purchase all three here.

But don’t stop there. The best thing you can do to help is learn about the subtle symptoms and spread the word:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Feeling like you have to pee urgently and often

These symptoms are common and could easily be something else—so don’t freak out! But if you experience any of these for longer than two weeks or more than 12 days in the course of a month, talk to your gynecologist, especially if you have a family history. Up to 15 percent of all ovarian cancers are hereditary.


Emma Stone Fights Cancer For Her Mom

May 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm , by

Emma Stone is one busy woman. Between wowing in red at the Met Gala this week and promoting her upcoming role in this summer’s The Amazing Spiderman, Stone found time to rally for a cause she cares about deeply: support for cancer survivors.

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Stone served as host at the annual benefit luncheon for Gilda’s Club in New York, and she brought her mom Krista, a breast-cancer survivor, with her. Named after comedian Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989, Gilda’s Club opened in New York City in 1995 as a support and resource center for people living with cancer.

Who could forget Radner’s unforgettable characters from her days as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, such as Roseanne Roseannadanna? Stone definitely hasn’t: her mom introduced her to Radner’s work years ago, including her memoir It’s Always Something, and Stone’s been a fan ever since. In fact, when Stone hosted SNL last November, she paid homage to Radner in a much-talked-about bumper that ran near the end of the show. “Gilda is my biggest hero. Doing that photo shoot was so amazing for me,” she says.

It all came full-circle for Stone when her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and joined a Gilda’s Club support group in Phoenix. “You can’t underestimate the power of finding people who are empathetic instead of just sympathetic,” Stone says. “It was so helpful to her. I wanted to be involved.”

Three and a half years later, her mom is doing well. But Stone continues to lend her celebrity for causes in her honor. She’s also been involved with the organization Stand Up 2 Cancer, and last Saturday she participated in NYC’s EIF Revlon Run/Walk, a fundraiser for women’s cancers, with pal Olivia Wilde. “I’ll be beating this drum forever,” Stone says.

There are now 20 Gilda’s Club centers across the country, with many more in development. To find a support group or make a donation, contact your local Gilda’s Club via this directory.

Happy Mother’s Day from the LHJ Health Ladies!

Photo by Paul Frogatt / PR Photos


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:

*bloating

*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!


Looking Back: One Year Later

February 7, 2011 at 8:00 am , by

It’s been a long time since my last update, so I thought I’d let you know how I’ve been doing. (Here’s my original story about caring for my mother, who died of ovarian cancer, and my follow-up blog post.) My mom is especially on my mind today because it’s been exactly a year since she passed away. I can’t believe it’s already been a whole year—the 21 months we spent battling her cancer seemed like an eternity, and now it’s already been a whole year without her?! How can that be?! But life goes on.

Since I last checked in, my sister and I sold my mom’s house in Ohio and moved our family heirlooms and must-have mementos into a storage facility. Saying goodbye to the house was incredibly hard—it almost felt like saying goodbye to my mom all over again. I had to keep reminding myself (through wracking, snuffly, red-faced sobs—lovely) that it’s just a house. Just a house. The memories are what matter. But our last days in my mom’s house were literally the three days over the Christmas holiday (our first without her). It was a double-whammy of emotional sucker punches and—all said and done—a holiday I’m not in a hurry to remember.

But selling the house also brought some closure. I can’t tell you how nice it is not to be a long-distance homeowner, with all of the crazy coordination and stress (and bills!) that entails. (For a house you’re not living in! Oy.) It’s funny though, looking back over the year: Aside from the traumatic Christmas, I’ve been doing pretty good. Do I think about my mom all the time and cry occasionally? Of course. Do I still have moments of piercing sadness where my visceral, childlike reaction is simply “I want my mom.” Heck yes. But I keep feeling this strange sense that I shouldn’t be doing as good as I am. Most days I feel pretty good, emotionally. And some twisted part of my brain thinks that’s weird. Like I’m waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me, waiting for some dramatic mega-breakdown that never came (and—fingers crossed—hopefully never will). I keep thinking, “I can’t possibly get off this easy, can I? Am I stuffing things down only to have them surface in some spectacularly destructive way 10 years from now?” Read more


Now What: Life After My Mom’s Death

September 22, 2010 at 10:00 am , by

amanda-momI ended our November story of my mom, Janice Alexander’s, fight with (and death from) ovarian cancer with her memorial service. But of course that’s not the end of the journey for my sister and me, or the end of her legacy. If you’ll let me share a little more (and Lord knows I’ve already taken up a lot of your time and, I suspect, tissues if you made it through all 4,375 words with me), I’ll tell you what it’s been like in the eight months since my mom passed away.

BATTLE SCARS
Those 21 months of stress and worry and exhaustion and pain—it’s funny how that sometimes feels like the easy part now. I feel fundamentally changed by my experience of being my mom’s caregiver. I can’t put my finger on what’s different, exactly. I imagine this must be (a very small version of) what a soldier feels when she returns home from battle. I’m still myself, of course. I miss my mom constantly, but I’ve gotten to the point where most of the time I can go about my day in good spirits, and feel that I’m living the life she’d want me to live. But in a strange way I feel simultaneously stronger from my experiences, and more brittle.

I went to a grief counselor for a few months after mom’s death (through Cancer Care, a wonderful organization). She said something that stuck with me. “It’s always going to be sad, but hopefully time will make it less painful.” So deceptively simple, but true. It’s okay to be sad. Forever. It’s just plain sad. But it’s going to be (and already is) less raw, less sharp. I’ll always carry this with me, but time will help dull the edges.

PICKING UP THE PIECES
And then there’s the practical stuff. It turns out that managing my mom’s Ohio estate from New York is nearly as challenging as managing her care was. She did an amazing job of getting her affairs in order for us, but there were still a ton of decisions that had to be made and tasks to be done. My sister, Audrey, and I have made almost as many trips back to Ohio for the estate as we did while we were taking care of her. There was, I’m not ashamed to admit, a feeling of relief after the ordeal of her illness was over. Of feeling like, “This is a really crappy time, but maybe I’ll at least get a break.” Not so much. Mom lived alone and since neither of us want to move back to Ohio, Audrey and I had to deal with all of the usual legal and accounting stuff, plus her house and a lifetime’s worth of possessions. Because we’re out of town and the house is empty, every little task is about 10 times harder than it should be, and requires a ridiculous amount of coordination.

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