Jul 26 2008
Maggie Blomberg was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 59. The Bellevue woman received the news after a second visit to her family doctor with complaints of feeling bloated.
She was immediately sent for an ultrasound and then a CT scan that led to her diagnosis in April of 2004, and surgery at Swedish in May. She has been hospitalized several times over the past years as well as many chemotherapy treatments.
To help others combat the disease, Blomberg has organized a 12-person team named LILAC to support the Swedish SummeRun, which will take place Sunday, July 27.
The event, a 5k walk or run and 10k run, begins at 8 a.m. at Swedish Medical Center First Hill, Seattle. Pre-registration is $25 and includes a race T-shirt. All proceeds will aid the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research’s mission “to save lives and reduce suffering through improved treatment, early detection, and prevention.”
Blomberg said she “became excited to participate [in the Swedish SummeRun] for the first time this year” after learning about it in June, where she learned how other survivors built their teams.
Their team has raised almost $1,700 so far, and hopes to raise more.
“The love and support I receive from my two daughters and my high school girlfriends fuels my strength and determination to survive,” she wrote in summary of her story.
Ovarian cancer is the fourth-leading cause of death among women in the United States and “the leading cause of death among gynecologic cancers,” said ovarian cancer expert, Dr. Saul Rivkin, MD.
Washington state is the third highest for ovarian cancer incidents in the country, as well as the highest ovarian cancer mortality rate. But if diagnosed early, “in stages 1 and 2, the outlook is extremely good,” said Rivkin.
It is estimated that about 22,430 women in Washington will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year. Unfortunately, “most women don’t discover it until stages 3 and 4,” Rivkin said.
Rivkin, an oncologist at Swedish Medical Center, also lost his wife to ovarian cancer in 1993. In her memory, he founded the Marsha Rivkin Center, and said there are many new and promising clinical trials and research studies.
“There are several new trials out there in hope for people with ovarian cancer,” he said.
Jocelyn Moore, Director of Programs and Management at the Rivkin Center, said that “5 to 10 percent of ovarian cancer is hereditary. So, if women have a history of ovary or breast cancer, they could be at risk for ovarian cancer.”
Maggie Angle, who works on the SummeRun, said that last year a study came out (partly funded by the Rivkin Center) “that for the first time documented the symptoms of ovarian cancer.” What’s remarkable about the study,she said, is that “ovarian cancer is very difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be easily confused with other medical issues.”
The study concluded that bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and urinary symptoms such as urgency or frequency are symptoms of ovarian cancer. Women experiencing one or more of these symptoms, and if they are new and persist for 2 or 3 weeks, should see a physician.
The annual Swedish SummeRun was organized by Rivkin’s five daughters who wanted to create something in their mother’s memory; to raise awareness of the disease as well as money to fund critical ovarian cancer research.
The event is unique, Angle said, “in that Swedish actually puts it on and pays all the expenses. So 100 percent of every dollar that comes into this event goes to the Marsha Rivkin Center for ovarian cancer research.”
SummeRun has raised “more than $3 million for ovarian cancer research,” Angle added.