(BPT) - Two-thirds of women across the world know nothing about ovarian cancer, yet over 22,000 women in the US alone are expected to be diagnosed in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society. For the newly diagnosed, whose cancer is often identified at an advanced stage, the news can come as a shock because the symptoms associated with ovarian cancer such as bloating, satiety, fatigue and constipation often go unnoticed, ignored or misdiagnosed, attributed to menopause, aging, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome or depression.

To help break this cycle, ovarian cancer survivors from across the country came together in a series of interviews to offer support, share guidance and amplify the conversation around ovarian cancer in their own words. Some of those stories have been collected in a new video series called BE LOUD. Released over the course of five weeks, the series provided a platform for ovarian cancer survivors to speak out about important topics such as encouraging awareness, why continuing research is important to them, appreciating the little moments, advice for the newly diagnosed and what gives them hope. While everyone’s journey with the disease is unique, sometimes advice from those who share similar experiences can help. Words of wisdom from the series includes:

  1. It’s Your Life; Embrace Your Own Strength

Whether you’re newly diagnosed or seeking a diagnosis for an ongoing health issue, you have a right to keep asking questions until you receive satisfactory answers. Listen to your body. Learn the symptoms and know that you can advocate for yourself.

  1. Use Your Voice

Find a supportive medical team that helps you feel empowered to participate in shared medical decision-making. Discuss treatment and testing options with your medical team, such as testing for BRCA mutations which may be inherited or present only in the tumor. Obtaining this information might help inform decisions about your treatment. Uncovering an inherited BRCA mutation can also encourage family member(s) to find out whether they have a genetic predisposition to ovarian or other cancers so that they can undertake screening and preventive measures.

  1. Connect with Others and Accept Support

Connecting with other survivors can be highly rewarding, whether you’re looking for answers or want to support women on the same journey. Beyond the community, sharing your experiences can help people who care about ovarian cancer survivors better understand the disease’s challenges. Let the people around you who care about you know what you need and allow them to help.

  1. Allow Yourself to Enjoy the Little Moments

When facing a disease with the magnitude of ovarian cancer, it’s easy to lose track of the “less important” things not related to the disease. When you can, do the things that make you happy and focus on the priorities you care about most.

To watch these ovarian cancer survivors discuss these topics and offer more advice and insight based on personal experiences, visit OCRAhope.org.

The BE LOUD video series was sponsored by AstraZeneca in partnership with Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance.

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