Right now, think of seven of your closest female friends. Did you know that in your lifetime, 1 out of the 8 of you will be affected by breast cancer? I think we’re at a point in time where every woman knows at least one woman who has struggled with breast cancer. Ovarian cancer and cervical cancer are also becoming more common and it sucks.
In addition to this, there are millions of women suffering from reproductive health issues, including PCOS (5 million), Endometriosis (176 M worldwide), Fibroids (80% of women by age 30!), breast nodules/lumps, and a bunch of other health issues. It was my desire to start a section of the blog about women’s health because my sister Judy and I experienced our own set of female reproductive issues in 2015-2016 and we want to be here for other women like us who are also experiencing these types of issues.
We’re also here to raise awareness. According to Gynecologists, it’s recommended that women see their GYNs once per year to get what’s called a Well Woman Exam. This is an exam that includes a pelvic exam, PAP smear, and if your GYN is thorough, a breast exam, an ultrasound and blood work. These exams will usually catch anything alarming so that your doctor can take steps to fix it. In reality, most women let years pass before they to go to their GYNs. This is bad. Here’s why:
Most reproductive issues, like other medical issues, are treatable with early detection.
Take a look at these stats from the ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology):
Cervical Cancer: The 5-year survival rate for women with cervical cancer is 92%. If cervical cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs, the 5-year survival rate is 57%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 17%.
Breast Cancer: If the cancer is located only in the breast, the 5-year relative survival rate of people with breast cancer is 99%. If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 85%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 26%.
Uterine Cancer: The 5-year survival rate for women with uterine cancer is 82%. The 10-year survival rate is 79%. If the cancer is diagnosed and it is still only in the area it started, called local, the 5-year survival rate is about 95%. If the cancer has spread regionally, the 5-year survival rate is about 68%. If it is diagnosed after the cancer has spread more distantly to other areas of the body, the rate is 17%.
Ovarian/Fallopian Tube Cancer: The 5-year survival rate for women with all types of ovarian and Fallopian cancer is 46%. The 10-year survival rate is 35%.
When you look at these stats, you seen one big trend: the earlier you catch it, the higher the survival rate. While these are the more serious types of illnesses you can be diagnosed with, we also want to focus on the less serious reproductive issues that women struggle with on a daily basis. These are often things that affect your fertility and well being and may require surgery or medication.
We talk about this in the About Me section, but in case you haven’t read that yet, my sister Judy and I both had to have Laparoscopic surgery to remove cysts. Judy’s cyst was a Dermoid cyst that was wrapped around her Fallopian Tube. She ignored the pain for one year until it sent her to the ER. Had they caught the cyst when it was smaller, they most likely would have been able to save her Fallopian Tube. In my case, I went two years between GYN exams and when I went back, they found a large Endometrioma cyst on my ovary. When they went in, they found my uterus full of Endometriosis and polyps. Had I waited, the Endometriosis could have spread and most likely would have severely damaged my fertility.
Every year, thousands of women have issues that affect their fertility and health simply because they haven’t had themselves checked.
The good new is that most of our health insurance companies cover Well Woman Exams free of charge. Although I understand the healthcare industry is currently undergoing change, I urge you to find a place that will give you a free or low cost WWE.
Women all over the U.S. and the world are suffering from reproductive issues. It’s a hard journey to be on by yourself. It’s difficult to know who else is going through the same thing because we never really talk about it openly. Judy and I are here to change the conversation about women’s health and do our part to raise awareness and help women live longer and better. Soon we’ll be coming out with an e-book that will discuss our experiences with surgery and how to get through it. Look out for that soon!
I’ll leave you off with this question:
When was your last GYN visit?
If it was over a year ago, go schedule an appointment NOW! If you don’t have a GYN, ask a friend for a recommendation. If you’re in the NYC area and want the name of my AMAZING GYN, let me know and I’ll refer you.