Slide1September 8th is Grandparents Day, and it’s fitting (at least in my case), that September is also National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Seven and a half years ago my very loved grandmother lost her two year battle with ovarian cancer.  She was just shy of her 82nd birthday, and was survived by three daughters, one son, six grandchildren and countless friends and loved ones.

My grandma was a true southern lady.  Born and raised in Mississippi, she never met a stranger.  She was friendly, sweet, warm and welcoming. My uncle tells the story of how he used to hate shopping with her as a kid because it took forever – she had to chat with everyone she met, she knew all of the store clerks by name and had to visit with each of them, and would then go to the manager of the store to tell them what a great job they were doing and what a nice staff they had on hand.

She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer just after her 80th birthday.  The diagnosis us surprised us all – especially my grandma who hadn’t given any thought to her ovaries in decades after going through menopause.  An estimated 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year.  It’s the 10th most common cancer in women, but because fewer than 15% of cases are detected early, the survival rate is very low.  There is no early detection test, but factors that reduce your risk of ovarian cancer include:

– Removal of ovaries/fallopian tubes

– Childbearing

– Breastfeeding

– Oral contraceptive use

– Tubal ligation

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are often mistaken for other conditions and include: bloating, back/abdominal pain, difficulty eating and urinary frequency.  If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms for extended periods of time and/or have a family history of ovarian cancer, see your doctor.

For more information about ovarian cancer, or ways to get involved and give back, visit the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition websites.

I was fortunate that I was able to spend 23 years of my life with my grandma, but it still pains me to think of all of the things she’s missed: graduations, weddings, her great-grandchildren.  Be sure to celebrate the grandparents in your life not just this weekend – but every weekend.  Our time together is so fleeting; don’t miss the opportunity to let them know how much they’re loved!