I’ve spent a lot of the last year thinking about women’s health. That may seem like a given being that I’m a woman and most people think about their health for part of the year, but this year it’s been on my mind more than most.

In the time since our last October issue, my mom has been diagnosed with cancer twice—uterine and breast. She’s doing fine now and recovering really well, but it’s been scary and stressful. In that time, I’ve learned a couple things:

Everyone says early detection is important for a reason. If my mom hadn’t gone in for her annual appointment when she did, who knows where we would be now. Her doctors were able to catch both cancers before they spread. While both were still serious—this is cancer after all—neither was as bad as it could have been. While women often prioritize their families over themselves, this appointment needs to not be pushed aside. 

There are many ways to assist your loved ones during this time. Really, just ask. You can drive them to appointments or make a trip to a pharmacy, but sometimes it’s good to offer more than practical things. The radiation was making my mom incredibly tired, so I offered to clean her whole house as a Mother’s Day gift. I know family friends brought out food or stayed with my parents for a weekend. It varies from person to person, but sometimes just having company can make someone feel better.

We need to talk more about uterine, cervical and ovarian cancer. As a society, we have no issue talking about breast cancer. There are pink ribbons everywhere, “Save the Ta-Tas” T-shirts and 5K walks galore. The same can’t be said for uterine and ovarian cancer. Whenever I discussed what was going on with a friend, I noticed that our voices would turn to a whisper, as if to make sure no one else could hear. Most of what I know about these types of cancer I learned this year. There is barely any awareness about these cancers and I’ve certainly never seen a “Save the Ovaries” T-shirt. If we want to protect others and ourselves from these cancers, we need to start talking about them more. I give major kudos to the Jaymie Jamison Foundation for Hope, which is all about promoting awareness through its many events, including Panties Across the Bridge. 

It’s been a tough year, and I didn’t even have cancer. But it has been a year where I’ve really grown to appreciate the health resources for women in our region. I plan to keep this increased awareness as I head into next year, but hopefully without all the worry and dread.

Corinne Minard

Managing Editor