A B.C. woman is surprised, but pleased, about the response to her Facebook post about her battle with ovarian cancer.
Erin Barrett, who lives in Vancouver, had her left ovary, fallopian tube, and a nearly six-pound tumour removed at the same time she gave birth to her baby girl, Edie, in September.
Shortly after, she was diagnosed with Stage 1C, Grade 1 ovarian cancer.
Doctors caught it early and Barrett has now finished chemo and will start radiation at the end of January. But she wanted to do something to help other women know the symptoms of what is often called ‘the silent killer’.
That’s when she decided to post on Facebook about her story and the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
“It’s something I had thought about for months,” she said. “I really didn’t want it to be all about me, I wanted it to be about the cause, but I know people can relate so much more to a person going through it and especially a person they know or someone they can identify with.”
“I thought if I could put these symptoms, attached to a real person, me, and attached to a real cause, and a real circumstance then it would hopefully resonate with people. And it’s been insane.”
The post has been shared more than 255,000 times and Barrett has received messages from all over the world.
“It’s been incredible,” she said. “There’s been an overwhelming number, hundreds if not thousands now, which has been incredible, of women who have got in touch and said ‘I have these symptoms, I’ve made an appointment with my doctor’. And that to me is the home run out of all of this. Those are the messages I want to hear.”
But she’s also received messages of hope.
“I’ve received beautiful messages from women who have gone through this and come out the other side and have given me renewed hope,” said Barrett.
She said the symptoms to watch out for include:
• Persistent stomach pain
• Persistent bloating
• Finding it difficult to eat or feeling full quickly
• Needing to pee more often
• Back pain
• Changes to bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea)
• Feeling tired all the time
Barrett is only 35 years old, but ovarian cancer is usually more common among women over 40.
“The thing about ovarian cancer is that it’s really rare, it doesn’t happen that often, which is a good thing,” she said. “But when it does happen, because there’s not an awareness about it, because the symptoms are so so vague, it gets caught too late.”
“So often women, you go into your doctor and you say ‘I’m having bowel troubles’ and they dismiss it as IBS. It’s so easy to dismiss the symptoms as something else.”
“That’s when I want women to keep pushing and say ‘no that doesn’t feel right, I’m going to go back’.”
For more information on ovarian cancer and the research being done in B.C., check out ovcare.ca.
© 2015 Shaw Media