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Your Healthy Family: Colorado Springs woman shares battle with ovarian cancer

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There are many steps women can take to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer There are many steps women can take to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer

Valerie Lucero, like many women diagnosed with ovarian cancer suffered for years with symptoms for years.  When her diagnosis came nearly a year ago, it was a shock.  

”At first I was scared and was just afraid to die.  Then I just started saying ‘this is god's will, this is where my life is supposed to go’ and I was fine.  It was misdiagnosed for years, by me and the emergency room and doctors.  We all thought I had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) because of the symptoms.  I was diagnosed on March 13th and when I was finally put in the hospital, the mass was so big that it collapsed my left lung.  I had surgery on march 14th."

Working with doctors and others with ovarian cancer have been key to her journey so far says Valerie.  "The support group has been so great.  I started going to a group right away.  Those women give me hope, they give me the laughter, they give me strength.  Laughter actually gets me through it, I laugh all the time.  Life is too short.”

Valerie wants other women make sure they don't take their health for granted.  She urges everyone to get yearly exams, and make sure you’re asking lot's of questions.  If you're dealing with symptoms of ovarian cancer, that we covered in yesterday’s story, (http://www.koaa.com/story/36272061/your-healthy-family-warning-signs-and-risks-of-ovarian-cancer) advocate with your doctors to rule ovarian cancer out.

Dr.Uchenna Njiaju, a Hematologist and Oncologist with UCHealth Memorial hospital says, there are steps all women should be aware of that can decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.

"Identify the risk factors and try to avoid them as much as possible.  We know breastfeeding can be protective, having children can be protective, we know oral contraceptives pills can be protective and it may have something to do with stopping ovulation for a period of time.  And if you are one of those that fall in the highest risk of having the BRCA gene, that may put you at as high a risk as 50% lifetime of ovarian cancer.  Then at age 35 or at the end of childbearing you should take out the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.”

As for Valerie while her journey isn't over, she considers herself a survivor.  “I had the hysterectomy, I had 6 months of chemo and thought I was in remission.  But the cancer had spread.  I have a mass by my heart and some lymph nodes still, so I'm actually still in chemo right now."

There are several events all month long in Colorado Springs to raise awareness of ovarian cancer.

September 1st - National wear teal day

September 16th - 2nd annual tattoo a thon at fallen heroes tattoo – 524 w. Colorado ave

September 17th - 9th annual be ovary aware 5k run 3k walk – America the beautiful park

September 26th - Painting with a twist for teal fund raising night - 1025 garden of the gods road

For more information, go to http://www.Beovaryaware.Org/events

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