Karen Carter celebrates at the end of last year’s Jodi’s Race
CONTRIBUTED BY COLORADO OVARIAN CANCER ALLIANCE
Karen Carter’s friends call her, “one of the lucky ones.” Ten years ago, she would have laughed at that description as she struggled for weeks with symptoms of the flu that she’d caught from her brother. Today, she credits her brother, that same flu and a dedicated medical team with saving her life. Carter was just 53 when she went to see her primary care physician due to lingering flu-like symptoms. When she didn’t respond to normal treatments, Dr. Elizabeth Bloomfield began ordering tests and didn’t stop until an abdominal scan revealed Stage II ovarian cancer.
Carter first learned about the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA) when she received a Comfort Kit while in the hospital recovering from surgery and chemo. She later made contact with Susan Hess, Clinical Supervisor at COCA and one of the founders of the organization, and began attending a Nicki’s Circle Support Group. The knowledge and insights she learned from the women in the group were invaluable as she navigated her path to living after a cancer diagnosis. As Carter learned more about the disease, which is the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers and the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths for women, she began to realize that she was truly lucky. “Without Dr. Bloomfield’s insistence for testing, I wouldn’t have known that I had ovarian cancer until it reached a more advanced – and difficult to treat – stage,” said Carter. Because there is no screening test for ovarian cancer, recognizing the symptoms − which include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, urinary urgency or frequency, and difficulty eating or feeling full quickly − is critical to early detection and treatment.
With a desire to spread the word about ovarian cancer awareness and help save women’s lives, Carter began volunteering on COCA’s behalf at health fairs. She finds the one-on-one interaction with participants rewarding and works hard to dispel the myths around the disease. “So many women think the Pap Smear screens for ovarian cancer,” Carter reports. “I explain to them that there is no screening test for this disease and that they need to be aware of their bodies and advocate for testing if something is amiss.”
In early 2010, Carter, who had participated in triathlons, learned about a race that was being formed to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. She signed up to run the 5K in the very first Jodi’s Race for Awareness and was honored to meet Jodi Brammeier, a young mother who started the Race so that other women might learn the symptoms of the disease and be diagnosed earlier. Jodi lost her battle with the disease shortly after the inaugural Race, but Carter and others like her keep Jodi’s legacy alive. Carter is looking forward to the 10th anniversary of Jodi’s Race, which will be held on June 8th at City Park. She’s participated in the event each year and enjoyed the support of her family, friends and medical team. This year, she’s excited for some friendly competition from her 12-year-old great niece, whom she pushed in a stroller during the inaugural Race.
More than 3,000 participants are expected for the 10th annual Jodi’s Race, which will include a 5K run/walk, 1-mile family fun run, survivor breakfast, music, kids fun zone, interactive expo and treats for furry friends. Carter, and others who have supported the event that has grown to become the second largest ovarian cancer run/walk in the country during the past ten years, will be recognized. For more information about Jodi’s Race for Awareness, please visit www.jodisrace.org.
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