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Why ovarian cancer survivor Christine Lawlor-Shaw chose holistic nutrition for recovery

Finding a way to save women’s lives is what the Ovarian Cancer Walk of Hope is all about. Christine Lawler-Shaw (right) is one of those survivors. She was joined on Tuesday to help support the walk set for Sept. 8 at Quidi Vidi Lake. On hand to help promote the walk are Marina Whitten, the walk’s chair and a national board member of Ovarian Cancer Canada (left), and Virginia Middleton, a walk volunteer and communications co-ordinator.
Finding a way to save women’s lives is what the Ovarian Cancer Walk of Hope is all about. Christine Lawler-Shaw (right) is one of those survivors. She was joined on Tuesday to help support the walk set for Sept. 8 at Quidi Vidi Lake. On hand to help promote the walk are Marina Whitten, the walk’s chair and a national board member of Ovarian Cancer Canada (left), and Virginia Middleton, a walk volunteer and communications co-ordinator. - Sam McNeish

Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope takes place Sunday at Quidi Vidi Lake

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

It is an outcome that is all too familiar.

Christine Lawlor-Shaw of Goulds was in pain.

The next few weeks of her life were difficult, as she was back and forth to the emergency room seeking relief for her abdominal pain.

“My symptoms were there. But those at emergency were not acknowledging it. They checked me and then sent me home,’’ she said Tuesday.

“I was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in March 2018,” she added.

By the time an additional ultrasound was scheduled, she was already in treatment receiving three rounds of chemotherapy, then a surgical procedure to remove the masses and was then scheduled for three additional rounds of chemo.

She took two treatments and then opted out of the final one, as she was tired of feeling awful from putting what she called “poison" in her body.

The prognosis for women with the chance of survival from ovarian cancer is one in two women, a number that hasn’t changed for more than 50 years.

This makes Lawlor-Shaw one of the lucky ones.

As a means of treatment, she made a conscious decision to go down her own path and see where it took her.

“I chose to seek out a holistic nutritionist. Chemo is such a bad chemical to have in your body. The nutritionist was recommended to me, as what she does nourishes your body back to health,” Lawlor-Shaw said.

“I felt I couldn’t go back to my normal, regular life. You have to go out and find help to nourish your body back to health.”

Lawlor-Shaw and a host of survivors and supporters will gather at Quidi Vidi Lake on Sunday for the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope, with registration and coffee starting at the Boathouse at 9 a.m.

She hopes her story will resonate with others who have similar symptoms and need medical attention.

“Pre-diagnosis is important, but so is post-diagnosis. This disease will come back to you if you don’t get help,’’ she said.

“You have to be educated and have awareness of the symptoms and make sure you go to your own doctor and push for tests," she added, noting emergency was great, but they are not always prepared for everything people come in for.

She was surprised to find out how long the wait list was for a simple ultrasound. Her scheduled appointment was five months away … with no relief in sight.

After she was tested, she heard the words nobody wants to hear … you have cancer.

“I was shocked. I had lived a healthy life. I walked, I eat healthy — except for a cookie here and there,’’ she said.

“But I was fine. I was sick as a dog for a while, extreme vomiting, but my family hurt more than I did.”

Lawlor-Shaw finished her last treatment in September 2018 and was proud to say as she sat in Starbucks on Kenmount Road that she is cancer-free a year later.

She has to go back every six months for a checkup, something that is necessary, but she says more needs to be done to ensure there is not a recurrence of the disease.

“They ask how you are feeling, talk about your symptoms, but there are no tests done to see if it has come back,’’ Lawlor-Shaw said.

Ovarian Cancer Canada champions the health and well-being of women with ovarian cancer and others at risk of this disease, while advancing research to save lives. It is the only national charity dedicated to this disease.


Maintaining hope

There is always hope — no matter what the statistics say.

That is why the local chapter of Ovarian Cancer Canada is hosting its annual walk on Sept. 8 at Quidi Vidi Lake in support of the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope.

Marina Whitten, the walk’s chair, has a personal connection to ovarian cancer, as her mother, Louise, was diagnosed with the disease in August 2013 and lost her battle in September 2014.

In the 1990s she was twice diagnosed with breast cancer and both times was successfully treated. At first, it was thought she suffered from a gallbladder issue, but that diagnosis was later changed to ovarian cancer, a fact her family quickly learned didn’t have a great outcome.

Since then, Whitten has become a national board member of Ovarian Cancer Canada and has been chairing the organizing committee for the walk in St. John’s, now for the second year in a row.

“The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of ovarian cancer, and gain funding and support for the cause. There are 2,800 diagnoses of ovarian cancer in Canada each year and 1,400 of those will die within five years. There has been no change in survivorship over the past 50 years,” Whitten said.

More money and research into ovarian cancer has to be done to make more information available and hopefully lead these women to better outcomes, Whitten said.

The Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope is the most powerful event of its kind in the country.

Organized in more than 35 communities nationwide, the walk directs all attention and funds to overcoming the most fatal women’s cancer.

Since 2002, the walk has raised more than $27 million. All proceeds from the walk are used to provide support, increase awareness and fund vital research.

This year’s walk will be held at Quidi Vidi Lake on Sept. 8. Registration and coffee will start at the Boathouse at 9 a.m. 

The opening ceremony and warmup will be from 9:30-10 a.m., and at 9:50 a.m. the fun run for children begins.

The walk begins at 10 a.m. and will wrap up with closing ceremonies at 12 p.m. 

All proceeds from the walk are used to provide support programs and resources to women affected, and to fund research. 

Participants are encouraged to walk one kilometre or five kilometres, or enjoy a fun run that will start 10 minutes before the walk.

There will be lots of family-friendly entertainment, including musical act The False Myths; Disney princesses Ariel and Cinderella from Spoonful of Sugar NL will make an appearance; and Rowena Watkins from Central Hoops will show off her hula hooping skills.

To register or donate, visit ovariancancerwalkofhope.ca.

A number of dignitaries will be involved with this year’s event, including Chief Justice Deborah Fry and St. John’s Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary.

samuel.mcneish@thetelegam.com
 


About the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope 

Founded by Peggy Truscott in 2002, the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope is organized in more than 35 communities across the country. It is the only walk in Canada to direct all attention and fundraising toward changing lives affected by ovarian cancer through research, advocacy, and support. Get involved or donate at ovariancancerwalkofhope.ca. 
Ovarian Cancer Canada champions the health and well-being of women with ovarian cancer and others at risk of this disease, while advancing research to save lives. It is the only national charity dedicated to this disease.

More facts: 
• Ovarian cancer is the most fatal women’s cancer in Canada.
• There is no reliable screening test for this disease.
• Five Canadian women are lost to the disease every day.
• 2,800 Canadian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.
• One out of every two women diagnosed with this disease isn’t expected to live another five years.
• Survival rates for women with ovarian cancer have not improved in 50 years.

While all women are at risk of developing the disease, a woman is at higher risk if:
• She is over 50 years of age.
• Her family has a history of certain types of cancer (ovarian, breast, endometrial, colorectal).
• She is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
• She has a genetic mutation associated with ovarian cancer.

Women concerned about their risk for ovarian cancer should speak with their doctor.
Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include: bloating, difficulty eating, abdominal discomfort and change in urinary habits.
Women should speak to their doctor if they notice new symptoms that persist for three weeks or longer.
This year, Ovarian Cancer Canada secured $10 million in funding from the Canadian government for ovarian cancer research – a first-ever funding – made possible by years of focused and collective efforts and advocacy by members of the community, including women living with this disease.

Source: ovariancanada.org

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