Women’s health is a hot topic these days. Unfortunately, gynecologic cancers still lag in their ability to create media buzz. Paradoxically, gynecologic problems just aren’t sexy. How can we create visibility for ovarian cancer in the saturated space of causes? The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (The “Alliance”) may have hit a new cord.
Teal is the official color for ovarian cancer awareness but a teal ribbon alone achieves very little in the drive to save women’s lives. What is really needed is a national commitment to increase research, educate women and physicians, increase access to care and expand new therapeutic opportunities for women with this deadly disease.
The Alliance, known for its advocacy work on Capitol Hill, shepherds bills through Congress that devote appropriations to ovarian cancer research and education. In a bold effort to advocate for the cause in communities across the country, the Alliance created the United States of Teal: a program designed to enlist state and local elected officials in the movement. By asking the state legislative leaders of all 50 states to pledge their allegiance to the cause, conversations about ways to reduce the deadly toll of this disease are taking place in new circles of influence.
The United States of Teal campaign turns a state teal on a virtual map as that state commits to elevating the outrage over women dying from ovarian cancer in their state. It is a key component of healthy communities, a move to empower women, and a necessary advancement in biomedical research to stop the ugliest, nastiest, most painful experience a woman and her loved ones can endure.
So what can communities really do to change this disease? First, talking about symptoms of ovarian cancer will inform women and doctors about the early warning signs that can lead to earlier diagnosis, when the disease is most treatable. Next, state legislative leaders are asked to speak out about their concerns and support ovarian cancer research funding and education. And, by creating public understanding of the need for a reliable diagnostic test and better treatments, more financial support for the work will follow.
Ovarian cancer symptoms, although they sound much like what women often experience, are different in that they (1) are not your normal pattern and (2) persist for several weeks.
The most common symptoms include:
• Pelvic or abdominal pain
• Feeling full too quickly
• Frequent or urgent urination
Women with these symptoms should see a gynecologist.
If we can remove the stigma our culture places on gynecologic disease, we can finally address openly and aggressively the most deadly gynecologic cancer of all: ovarian cancer. Help us turn your state teal by urging your state and local political leaders to join the ovarian cancer movement.
Who knows...it may someday be the sexiest cause of all.
For more information, go to www.ovariancancer.org and www.unitedstatesofteal.org.