Ovarian Cancer: Olympic Champ and the Silent Killer

There is a reason ovarian cancer is called the silent killer. Symptoms don’t appear or are so subtle that diagnosis does not occur until this cancer is advanced and difficult to treat. Early detection tests simply do not exist. Pelvic ultrasound and the blood test for CA-125 are the standard offerings, but they fall so far short of the mark it is pathetic. Research dollars and treatment advances for ovarian cancer lag behind breast cancer, the far more sexy female cancer. As a society we care more about our cleavage than our pelvic organs.

For those with defective BRCA genes, the threat of both breast and ovarian cancer is high. As I’ve been recovering from surgery to reduce my risk of ovarian cancer I’ve been glued to the TV coverage of the Olympics. I’m guilty of watching sports I did not know even existed, but always look forward to the big ones like women’s gymnastics. As I watched the US team take the gold, and then Gabby Douglas win the individual all-around gold, I thought about many of these fearless young women I’ve admired over the years. One such Olympian, Shannon Miller, was a member of the 1996 team dubbed the Magnificent Seven. What you may not know about her is she became an ovarian cancer survivor in 2011.

 

Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller in 1996

If you’d like to read more about Shannon Miller’s experiences please take a few minutes to read this short interview and remember – ovarian cancer can happen to any female, whether they are couch potatoes or the stuff of Olympic legend.

Shannon Miller and her son during treatment in 2011.

 

 

 

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