Honoring and remembering ovarian cancer victims
By Helen Clay
You have cancer. Those three words changed my life forever. I met the dawn of my 11th birthday with a somber ride to Richland Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital where I underwent a nine-hour surgery to save my life. In the following summer months, I received chemotherapy treatment as I continued my battle against stage four ovarian cancer. Attentive nurses, tenacious doctors and devoted friends and family helped cheer me to victory over “the disease that whispers”… just in time to begin my sixth grade year of school.
Ovarian cancer, called “the disease that whispers” due to its silent symptoms, affects more than 20,000 women in the United States every year. Of these 20,000 ladies, more than 15,000 will die. Because many women fail to recognize symptoms, ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers among women. Ovarian cancer patients have a 95 percent five-year survival rate if the tumor is caught in an early stage. For stage three cancer, the survival rate decreases to less than 25 percent, and stage four patients have a 5 percent five-year survival rate. Unfortunately, pap smear examinations are unable to detect ovarian cancer.
In honor of the many South Carolina women affected by this disease, the Ovarian Cancer Coalition hosts its annual Whispers Butterfly Release on Sept. 15, 2016. The South Carolina community will gather at the South Carolina Statehouse to release hundreds of colorful butterflies into the skies. This event not only commemorates individuals and families affected by this disease, but it also promotes awareness of the ovarian cancer “whispering” symptoms. Ovarian cancer symptoms include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
Detecting ovarian cancer early is key to combating this deadly disease, and the Ovarian Cancer Coalition dedicates its time and resources to the mission of educating women in the Midlands. All proceeds from the Whispers Butterfly Release supports this effort.
The Whispers Butterfly Release fosters fellowship among our Columbia “family” with music, inspirational speakers and butterflies. This past year, a dear friend, Dot Ryall, released a butterfly in my honor. Dot’s touching gesture demonstrated her unwavering love and support as I reached my 10-year cancer-free mark on my 21st birthday this past April. I am thankful for the deep affection the community of Columbia showers upon ovarian cancer patients and families. The Whispers Butterfly Release allows the South Carolina community to celebrate the cancer survivors and mourn the lost lives together as a united community.
Date: Sept. 15, 2016
Location: South Carolina Statehouse
Time: 5:30 p.m.
*For more information on purchasing a butterfly, call (803) 926-3462, or visit their website, OvarianCancerMidlands.org.