Approximately 3,100 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in Canada. In January 2020, our team captain, Lois, was stunned to become one of those statistics when she was diagnosed with advanced metastatic high-grade serous ovarian cancer (Stage 3C). Advanced means that the cancer had already spread to other parts of my body. High-grade tumours are the most malignant, are faster-growing and spread earlier. As with most women who receive this grim news, Lois had virtually no warning. Early stage ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms, while even at the advanced stage, the symptoms, if any, are vague and easy to dismiss. Nor is there a reliable screening test available. As a result, 75% of women in Canada with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at stage 3 or 4, making this the most serious cancer for women.
While ovarian cancer is typically very responsive to chemotherapy, it often recurs quickly. 7 in 10 women die from this disease within 5 years of diagnosis, and the long-term disease-free survival rate for advanced ovarian cancer is only 10%.
Fortunately, things are beginning to change. While no cure is available for advanced ovarian cancer, new treatment options have been making their way through clinical trials. As of last November, Lois has been on a new maintenance drug that shows some efficacy in delaying a recurrence. So, there is reason to feel hopeful.
The Walk of Hope celebrates the hope we carry with us every day - the hope for a future without ovarian cancer. We are walking to show our support for all women facing this disease.
Every dollar our team raises supports Ovarian Cancer Canada, the only national charity that champions the health and well-being of women with ovarian cancer and others at risk of this disease. Funds will be used to fund vital research, spur advocacy efforts, and provide support so that we can help women with, or at risk of, ovarian cancer live fuller, better, longer lives.