Survivor raises awareness of ovarian cancer
A Wareham woman is working to raise awareness of ovarian cancer this month.
Susan Grebber is herself a survivor of ovarian cancer, a disease she said nearly killed her.
“I was lucky to survive it, I really was,” she said.
Grebber was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after at least one doctor confused her symptoms for a different ailment.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer include bloating, back pain, feeling full too quickly, fatigue, menstrual changes, and upset stomach or heartburn, all of which are symptoms that are easy for women to dismiss or confuse for gastrointestinal distress.
After Grebber’s primary care doctor referred her to a gastrointestinal specialist, that doctor performed a scan and found the tumor on one of her ovaries. By the time it was discovered, the cancer had already metastasized to her uterus.
Within several weeks, she was in Boston undergoing major surgery to remove the tumor.
That was back in January 2012. Luckily, Grebber has been cancer-free ever since, but she still sees her surgeon and oncologist each year to make sure the disease hasn’t returned.
“If something doesn't feel right, if something isn't normal for you, and it doesn't go away in about two weeks, see a doctor or get telehealth,” Grebber said.
She emphasized that everyone with ovaries is at risk for the disease, and urged people to pay attention to any changes in their body that don’t feel normal.
“If I can help one woman, then I’ve done my job,” Grebber said.
Unfortunately, there are no routine tests that screen for ovarian cancer in the way that pap smears test for cervical cancer or colonoscopies screen for colon cancer.
That means that ovarian cancer is often undiscovered until it has already metastasized elsewhere in the body.
For more information about ovarian cancer, go to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s website at www.ovarian.org or call 1-800-OVARIAN.