Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Helping to Save Women's Lives

The statistics for ovarian cancer can be scary for a woman. According to the American Cancer Society's (ACS) website, only 20% of ovarian cancers are found in the early stages when they are most treatable. ACS suggests getting regular pelvic examinations and going to see your physician if you experience any early symptoms. But as we already know these symptoms are vague and can be caused by less serious conditions.

So how do we fight against a disease where over 75% of cases are found in the advanced stages where the cancer has spread outside of the ovaries and the five-year survival rate is 50% or less? By increasing awareness and educating women about early symptoms and risk factors.

"Johanna's Law seeks to end the life-threatening information gap that has led to so much suffering and so many deaths. By educating America’s women about gynecologic cancer symptoms and risk factors, Johanna’s Law can help women experiencing symptoms seek appropriate medical help quickly, increasing the potential for earlier detection. Women possessing risk factors can take steps to lower their risk. By also devoting resources to educating physicians, Johanna’s Law will enhance the limited exposure to gynecologic cancer patients most physicians receive during their training, making it more likely gynecologic cancers will be considered as possible causes of certain symptoms, along with the less lethal conditions so often assumed to cause them."

Drafted by Sheryl Silver after her only sister, Johanna Silver Gordon died of ovarian cancer, The Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act: Johanna's Law has garnered support in both the U.S. House and Senate and is endorsed by organizations which represent over 300,000 physicians, nurses, cancer survivors and women. But Johanna's Law needs your help.

All disease specific bills are being held up in the House. Johanna's Law must be brought before the Energy and Commerce Committee before it can be voted on. If you live in Texas please consider calling, writing, emailing, or faxing Representative Joe Barton who heads up this Committee. Here is his website - http://joebarton.house.gov/

The companion bill in the Senate could make it to the end of the year without a hearing. Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming holds the key. Constituents in his area are encouraged to call, email, write or fax his office asking for him to move this bill forward. His website is - http://enzi.senate.gov/public/

Education and awareness is the only way to change the grim statistics which surround the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Until a reliable screening test is made available to the general public we can only fight this disease with knowledge; knowledge of its symptoms, its risk factors and of our bodies.

For more information on The Gynecologic Education and Awareness Act: Johanna's Law please go to http://johannaslaw.org/

Thank you for your support and remember, knowledge is power.

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