Ovarian Cancer: Young Survivor Wants to Spread Awareness

September will soon come to a close, but did you know that this month is also Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month? According to a story from MSN, Michelle Barrenechea, an EMT from Gadsden County, recently had a close call with the disease.

“It’s just so rare for someone my age to have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” she said.

She first began experiencing the first symptoms in 2019, but she had no idea at first that it was cancer.

About Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer can appear on or within the ovary. This cancer rarely causes distinctive symptoms in its early stages, so many patients are often diagnosed with advanced disease. The risk of getting the disease is connected to how long a female has ovulated during her life; females who ovulate for longer periods are at greater risk. Late menopause or early puberty are risk factors, as are not having children, fertility medication, certain genetic variants and mutations (such as BRCA mutations), and exposure to talc, herbicides, and pesticides. Some symptoms include fatigue, bloating, a feeling of fullness, loss of appetite, indigestion, abdominal swelling, and pelvic pain. Treatment can include chemo, radiation, surgery, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy. There are many different kinds of ovarian cancer. Five-year survival rate is 45 percent in the US. To learn more about ovarian cancer, click here.

Michelle’s Story

Her first symptoms were abdominal swelling, fatigue, and bloating. At first, it seemed like she was just gaining a little weight. It was only when she underwent surgery to remove the abnormal tissue that she was officially diagnosed with ovarian cancer, rated as stage 1 and grade 2. Michelle was further treated with three rounds of chemotherapy. She finished treatment in December 2019, right before the pandemic appeared.

She has continued EMT work on the frontline during the pandemic, but she had also shared her cancer story and organized fundraisers to help spread ovarian cancer awareness. Michelle emphasizes the importance of getting in touch with your doctor if something feels off, especially if it continues long term.

Click here to learn more about Michelle’s story.

Want to learn more about this disease and spread awareness? Check out some of our stories about this disease here.

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