Sometimes you read something in the news or see something on tv that strikes a deep nerve. That happened to me yesterday.
The news that Minnesota State Senator Linda Scheid had ceased treatment for ovarian cancer and was entering hospice care at home brought back a wave of raw emotions.
It seems like only yesterday that I went through this myself as a family member. My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer around Christmas 2003. She fought it valiantly but in the fall of 2008 the doctors advised her that there were no further treatments that would be of help. She entered hospice care at home around Christmas time 2008 and died New Year’s Day 2009.
Sen. Scheid and her family are going through the same things my family went through. It is an experience I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.
I walked away from the political world with an apathetic finger in 2010 when I was told by a staffer of one of our federally elected officials that the senator would not sign on and support a bill in the Senate that would provide funding for ovarian cancer research because you can’t support every cancer research bill that comes along.
According to the American Cancer Society, in women age 35-74, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths. An estimated one woman in 58 will develop ovarian cancer during her lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2009, there will be 21,550 new cases of ovarian cancer and 14,600 women will die from ovarian cancer.
When one is diagnosed and treated in the earliest stages, the 5-year survival rate is over 90%. Due to ovarian cancer's non-specific symptoms and lack of early detection tests, only 19% of all cases are found at this early stage. If caught in stage III or higher, the survival rate can be as low as 30.6%.
There is still no early detection test available for ovarian cancer nor has Congress approved funding to develop an early detection test.
In honor of Sen. Scheid and her family, my mom and family and the 21,550 women who will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year maybe we can get our politicians to listen to our pleas and pass legislation setting aside funding to develop an early detection test for ovarian cancer.
One woman in 58 will develop ovarian cancer during her lifetime.
Are you going to be one of those 58? Will your mother, sister, daughter, girlfiend, wife?
Chad Larimer lives and works in Rochester.
Bluestem Prairie hopes readers will keep Senator Scheid in their prayers, and work for congressional action for funding for an ovarian cancer early detection test.
Image: Ovarian cancer awareness ribbon.