Let’s be honest here for one second. We all know Cancer Sucks!! Am I right? Of course, I am. It’s a curse. People like to spend their time pimping out the ribbons and the colors for us to “raise awareness.” Is there a person in the U.S. above the age of 14 who does not know cancer exists? If so, I want to live in their idyllic world. I’m not against the ribbons and the colors. If you have lost someone or watched someone suffer, it feels good to do something in honor of their memory or their struggle. I get it and have the ribbon paraphernalia to prove it. I’ve lost close family members and watched others suffer from cancer; my grandma, several aunts, uncle and my sister to name a few. I’m not some cold-hearted wench against people trying to make a difference. I was extremely close with my Great Aunt Katherine when she went to the hospital for her cancer when I was 12. I remember vividly every single time I walked in and out of her hospital room as she slipped further and further away from us and writhed with pain. It was my first cancer experience. It was painful to watch. Cancer Sucks.
The problem I have is with it stopping at ribbons and colors. That is not enough. Raising money for some organization which may or may not be giving the money towards finding a cure is great if it makes you feel like you are doing something. I’m not knocking those actions. I am calling for people to do more. If we really want to do something about ovarian cancer, we have to step it up. I’ve made a list of suggestions:
First Step: Early Detection
Get regular (as in yearly) exams with your gynecologist. The American College of Obstretrics and Gynocology guidelines suggest women over 30 who have had 3 consecutive negative (as in clear) PAPs only need one every 3 years, however, regular bimanual pelvic exams and clinical breast exams can detect serious issues. If it has been more than a year since your last exam, call today and make an appointment. Now is fine. I’ll be here when you get back. In fact, make the appointment, tweet/instagram/Facebook about it challenging ALL the women in your life to do the same. The next best thing beyond prevention is early detection.
Second Step: Prevention
I realize we can never be sure what does or doesn’t prevent cancer. Sometimes it is genetics and there is not much we can do about genetics. The only aspect of genetics we can deal with is to test for the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 mutation. A woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits the harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2. We have heard about the cases where some women after discovering they have the gene had their breast removed and/or a hysterectomy. This is a drastic decision and one I’m positive they didn’t come to lightly. With my family history, I have considered the test which is expensive for me but have not yet gone down that road. While I still weigh this heavy decision, I do feel there are habits we can adopt which will help with prevention. The catch-22 with this topic is we can’t prove you prevented cancer just because you don’t get cancer. You might have been a person who wouldn’t have gotten it anyway but I like to err on the side of caution. I would rather not get cancer and will do what I can now.
Heath and Eating Habits
I recommend yogurt if you can for the good bacteria it introduces but other fermented foods such as Kombuchi is wonderful for your health. Fruit and garlic are good for your bodies Ph balance and bacteria health.
Kegels. Your body will weaken as you age. Happy Happy Joy Joy. Doing kegels lessens your chances of urinary accidents and improves your sex life.
Having an active sex life helps lower your chances. If you are not in a relationship or otherwise active, there are other ways to reach the same result.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary with any part of your private area, discuss it with your doctor. You will never regret over worrying but you will regret if it turns out to be something and your chances would have improved with a quicker diagnosis.
Women, we need to refocus our attentions on our feminine care. The vulva (outside part of the vagina usually called the vagina but the vagina is the inside tube part of your organ) may be washed with no-frills soap and thoroughly rinsed with hot water. The vagina should never be washed with soap. It needs to maintain a certain Ph level to promote healthy bateria and deter unhealthy bacteria. It goes without saying don’t be douche. Seriously they are never a good thing. It totally screws with your Ph level. HealthyHooHoo has a line of feminine freshness products free of harsh chemicals, fragrances and parabens.
Please consider getting a menstrual cup and/or using cloth panty liners. My pads are Pink Lemonade. Another great place for pads and The DivaCup is Lunapads. Many friends recommend the Luna Cup or a menstrual cup like the SckoonCup. The Word of Nerd has a fantastic post on Cloth Pads.
If you do use tampons, change them frequently. If you use pads, only use them as long as you have to and change them frequently. I must tell you to read this article at Naturally Savvy by Andrea Donsky before choosing this option. She explains the toxin issue so much better than I ever could.
Cotton underwear is best. Your privates need air. Let your vulva breathe. At the very least, consider going commando at night to give your privates time to air out.
Third Step: Now we talk Awareness
Before you give, know the organization. I like Charity Navigator. You can see exactly how an organization divides up its money, how much is spent on programs, fundraising and paying their head honcho. I know some people can get hung up on a CEO getting paid $300,000 but if the organization brings in over $300 million it is really a drop in the bucket and I am more concerned about where the bulk of the money is going. Information is power. What is important to one person is less important to another. Know your organization and give where you feel most comfortable.
The ribbon color for ovarian cancer is teal. Wear it proudly if you feel called but please when asked share more. Talk about early detection and prevention. Do not partake in buying teal items from businesses where no money is going to a legit organization or even worse businesses such as conventional tampon and pads makers whose products they are unwilling to share what is in them and are unwilling to prove they are not toxic or harmful to vaginas across the country.
Full Disclosure: I have not been asked by any of the companies, blogs or links I have provided to write this article. In fact, there are many more products you can find and I hope you do search for the right and SAFEST products for you. I receive no kick back from this article. I am simply an average Jane who feels passionate about this topic. I don’t have a medical degree. I’m not a scientist. I search for information and share it. I suggest you do your own research. Let this be a jumping off point to learning more about being proactive in your health.