Denver Colo. (Aug. 22, 2023) – Six years ago, Diane Locke noticed that she was having difficulty eating and often felt full after a few bites. What was even more troubling was the fact that while the scale showed she was losing weight, her stomach was swelling to the point that she looked pregnant. When she began having breathing troubles, she scheduled an appointment with her physician. She was shocked to learn that she had Stage 3A ovarian cancer, especially since she’d had a hysterectomy when she was 50.
Locke had debulking surgery to remove both the tumors and her ovaries, which had not been removed during her hysterectomy, and then underwent a chemotherapy regimen. After surgery, her doctor gave her a brochure about the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA) and the support groups run by the nonprofit. Shortly after starting chemo, she attended her first Nicki’s Circle support group and immediately felt a connection. “It’s so important to be able to talk with other women who know what you are going through,” explains Locke. “I’ve learned so much about how to both fight and live with this disease from the incredible women in my support groups.” The group also shares resources, advice and provides each other with guidance.
A few years prior to Locke’s diagnosis, her close friend Rachel was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Despite Locke’s support and their continued friendship, Rachel didn’t share much about her own symptoms or treatment. After her own experience, Locke realized how important it is to talk with other women about gynecologic cancers. She volunteered to share information about the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer – bloating, difficulty eating, abdominal pain and trouble with urination or bowel movements – at health fairs, and began attending events such as Jodi’s Race for Awareness, the NOCO Gynecologic Cancer Walk & Brunch and Footsteps to Hope walk sponsored by a women’s cancer support group in Windsor.
“It’s important for all of us to speak up. Women need to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer and be encouraged to speak about them with their doctor. They need to understand the importance of family history and they need to know they are not alone,” says Locke.
When she’s not busy raising awareness, Locke makes cards to provide support and encouragement to others who need a boost. She creates hundreds of cards each year and will be sending many to those battling ovarian cancer this September.
September is national Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, 15,000 women in the U.S. die of ovarian cancer, which is the deadliest gynecologic cancer. Because there is no screening test for ovarian cancer, symptom recognition is critical for early diagnosis. Ovarian cancer can strike at any age; however, a woman’s risk is highest during her 60s and increases through her late 70s.
About the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance
Founded in 2005, the mission of the nonprofit Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance is to provide support to those affected by ovarian cancer, and to promote awareness and early detection of ovarian cancer through advocacy and education. Programs include COCACares Financial Assistance, Nicki’s Circle Support Groups, the Ovarian Cancer Resource Guide, Comfort Kits for the newly diagnosed, Carol’s Wish Financial Assistance Program, an annual Raise Awareness campaign, and Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women’s Lives®, a national program of the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA).
To learn more about COCA and its programs, visit www.colo-ovariancancer.org.