September has always been a special month to me. It’s my birthday month – need I say more? September is filled with birthdays of other special people I know – Tim, Kim, Mary Jo, Sam, Nancy, Joanne, Jill, Vicki, Rob, Bill, Bob, Katherine, Kathy, Kathleen,….. I hope I did not forget anyone!
September is “back to school” time – when I was a student, a teacher, and an administrator. After 38 years in education, my rhythm is tuned to September as the time when the New Year begins. Not in January, but in September!
September has a serious side for me because it is also National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. I am an ovarian cancer survivor of two years now. You won’t hear as much about ovarian cancer in September as you will about breast cancer in October. You won’t see as much teal around as you will see pink in October. Ovarian cancer does not strike as many women as breast cancer does, but when it does, it is more deadly. The slogan for ovarian cancer is “break the silence” because the symptoms are varied, ignored or disregarded by too many women and too many medical professionals. Diagnosis is difficult because there is no routine screening test; and the symptoms often mimic other less threatening conditions. I am one of the lucky ones. We caught it early. Even with that, it was the most difficult and challenging time of my life.
The color teal represents this disease and stands for “Take Early Action and Live.” Across the country, national programs will provide information on symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and support. Activities range from run/walks to Teal Toes, a small but fun initiative to help raise awareness of ovarian cancer by painting your toe nails teal, especially in September. The goal is to get women to talk about ovarian cancer and break the silence — “By painting your toenails teal, the ovarian cancer color. By getting your friends to paint their toenails teal too, and then by talking with people when they ask about it, to make sure that they know the signs of this whispering killer.”
Last September my colleagues and friends painted their toenails in all shades of teal to honor my survivorship with me. It was a special and significant gesture to me. This year my Teal Toes shade is “Naughty Nautical, ” by Essie. Perfect name and color for this September, isn’t it?
Why am I writing about cancer in our sailing blog? To break the silence, to raise awareness for ovarian cancer, to save even just one other woman through early detection. As a survivor, it is the very least I can do. From the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance –
- Too many women with ovarian cancer do not get diagnosed until their cancer has spread. Their survival rate is 45%.
- The survival rate improves greatly – to 93 percent – if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage before it has spread. Only 19 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at this local stage.
- Approximately 75 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage after the cancer has spread beyond the ovary.
This September is special because it marks the beginning of our dream adventure as we set sail together on Kindred Spirit.
September is, once again, a time for new beginnings.