SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Wednesday, May 8, is World Ovarian Cancer Day.
And a Shreveport woman is sharing her experience in the hopes of raising awareness and helping others.
Like many women, 37-year-old Shelly Willis had no obvious symptoms when she went to the hospital in December.
“I thought I had a stomach bug so I went to the emergency room. They sent me home with pain medicines and said if it doesn’t get better, come back.”
About a week later, Willis went to the ER again.
“They did the cancer test and found out my CA-125 was elevated."
In January, Willis learned she had a 20-centimeter tumor on her ovaries and part of her colon. That’s almost 8 inches.
She was diagnosed with seromucinous carcinoma, a rare form of ovarian cancer.
“I was in the hospital bed. They came in and were like, ‘You do have cancer’. I was like, ‘I don’t wanna know’. Mom was like, 'Well, I wanna know/.”
Willis’s mother, Penny Weldon, said: “It’s something a mom doesn’t want to hear about their baby because she is my baby and always will be.”
Willis had a total hysterectomy.
Now she is in the middle of chemotherapy treatments.
But her diagnosis isn’t slowing her down.
Instead, it has inspired her.
“If I can advocate for other women and be an inspiration to other women and teach them about their health and ovarian cancer and it puts a smile on my face, then I’m happy.”
Willis is asking your to wear the color teal Wednesday to show your support.
Even more importantly, she’s encouraging women to know their bodies and speak to their doctors about ovarian cancer.
“Us women, we need to be proactive and we need to advocate for ourselves and others.”
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 22,000 women in the U.S. will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2019.
It ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women in the U.S.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer can include bloating, changes in bathroom habit, or pain in the pelvic or back area.
There is no test to detect ovarian cancer, but you can talk to your doctor about a C-A-125 blood test or other screening measures.
The earlier the diagnosis, the more effective treatment can be.