Dothan, AL - September is ovarian cancer awareness month. Although the disease accounts for only four percent of female cancers, it is the most deadly of the gynecological type.
The risk for ovarian cancer increases with age, but the younger generation isn't immune.
“I was planning a wedding, just graduated from college. The symptoms I was having I just put it off as something I was eating, maybe it was just my busy schedule,” said twenty-five year old Brittany Hurst, Dothan.
But the newlywed couldn’t shake the back and abdominal pain. After a year, doctors diagnosed her with stage three ovarian cancer.
“The first thing that popped into my head was I'm 25 years old. I want to have a family. I had just gotten married. We had a 5 year plan, but sometimes plans don't go as you think they would,” said Brittany.
Ovarian Cancer is often called “the silent killer”.
Dr. Steve Stokes works for the Southeast Alabama Medical Center’s Cancer Center. He said about 80% of women are at an advanced stage when diagnosed.
“The difficulty is we don’t have a good blood test or x rays that will pick up ovarian cancer early. You have to have a very high index of suspicion,” said Stokes.
That means knowing your body and knowing the symptoms.
Brittany said, “After being diagnosed and reading the symptoms, I realized every symptom I had was a symptom of ovarian cancer. If I would've known I would've been able to ask my doctor.”
Now, it’s her mission to make sure women know the questions to ask.
Over the past year, Brittany has had nine rounds of chemotherapy at MD Anderson in Texas.
Now she has two reasons to celebrate: her first wedding anniversary and she’s in remission.
Brittany said, “It's definitely been a tough year. I believe if we can make it through this year we can make it through years to come.”
Doctors say the symptoms for ovarian cancer include: abdominal bloating, pelvic pain, sense of fullness in the bladder, lower back pain, and appetite changes.
Also your risk is higher if you have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer.
Doctors say even at stage three, about fifty percent of women can be cured of ovarian cancer.