Healthier Together: Surviving ovarian cancer


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Ovarian cancer is a common cancer among women and often is fatal in the later stages. The cancer starts in the ovaries, and it spreads to the abdomen and pelvis if it’s not diagnosed and treated early.

Former Seattle Storm player Simone Edwards is sharing her diagnosis and journey in the hopes of inspiring other women to be their own advocate.

"I’m very active, and I do my videos I work out, keep fit, and I started feeling pain on my back and my butt," Edwards said. "It started out light, and it started getting worse and worse, and it wouldn’t go away."

Edwards knew something was wrong, so she went to the doctor for help.

"I walk into this office, and I’m just meeting this doctor and I just start crying," she said. "And I said ‘I am in so much pain I just need somebody to fix me,’ and she just held my hand and said ‘let’s see what we can do, we’re going to do a scan to see what’s going on."

Edwards says her doctor found two cysts and blood clots, which she was treated for immediately, but the pain persisted.

Doctors sent Edwards to a gynecological oncologist who performed a hysterectomy and discovered she had ovarian cancer.

"So immediately the doctor told me you have to start chemo right away because it’s stage three, it’s aggressive," she said. "And I’m thinking to myself ‘If I didn’t go in and say I’m not leaving this hospital, this thing would have killed me."

"Paying attention to your body is really really really critical," said Regence BlueShield Executive Medical Director Dr. James Polo.

Polo says a lack of effective screening means most women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at advanced stages. One challenge is that many of the symptoms are similar to gastrointestinal and urinary conditions.

"Women are unique in the sense that there are five cancers that can affect the female reproductive tract," Dr. Polo said. "Ovarian is the worst which unfortunately is also the highest cause of death. It’s the fifth-highest cause of death of all cancers women have."

"You have to know your body, we have to listen especially when something is going on that you are not used to," Edwards said.

Edwards hopes that by sharing her own experience she will inspire other women to advocate for themselves.

"Life is about moments, so I’m still living I’m thankful I can still walk, I can laugh, I can dance and these are the things I love," she said. "I have cancer - cancer does not have me."

Learn more about Simone Edwards' nonprofit Simone 4 Children and her memoir UNSTOPPABLE.


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