Salisbury turns teal for ovarian cancer awareness

  • Posted: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 11:18 a.m.
    UPDATED: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 2:58 p.m.
Teal ribbons adorn trees in downtown Salisbury during September for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Volunteers are also asking local businesses to hand out cards with the
Teal ribbons adorn trees in downtown Salisbury during September for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Volunteers are also asking local businesses to hand out cards with the "silent symptoms" of ovarian cancer. Photo by Karissa Minn, Salisbury Post.

SALISBURY — Starting this weekend, the trees downtown are wearing ribbons during September in an effort to raise awareness of ovarian cancer.

The project is part of a nationwide campaign called Turn the Towns Teal, which uses biodegradable ribbons to help make people aware of ovarian cancer and its often silent symptoms.

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and Salisbury Mayor Paul Woodson has issued a proclamation in support.

“We want to share the word about the early symptoms of ovarian cancer,” wrote Diana Coates Peoples, who organized the local project, in an email to the Post. “We will be asking the local businesses in the town center to help by allowing us to share the symptom cards with their employees and customers.”

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the U.S. There is no early detection test and the symptoms are subtle and often misdiagnosed, which is why the Turn the Towns Teal Campaign says knowing the symptoms is critical.

Classic symptoms of ovarian cancer are pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort (bloating), vague but persistent gastrointestinal upsets, frequency and/or urgency of urination, unexplained changes in bowel habits, unexplained weight gain or loss, ongoing unusual fatigue, back pain, menstrual changes and pain during intimacy.

Peoples said she became involved with Turn the Towns Teal because she has two friends who have fought ovarian cancer.

Lybby Brown helped her plan the project but warned that she might not be around to see it happen, Peoples said. Brown passed away on July 1.

Peoples said she and other volunteers have worked hard to raise money for project supplies through bake sales and other fundraisers.

“When Lybby was in the hospital before her death I asked her what I could do for her,” she wrote. “She asked for two things, prayers and to help make women aware so no one would have to go through what she went through.”

Peoples said another friend of hers, Linda Jones, had a better outcome. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer early and recently celebrated a “Chemo is Over” party.

“Linda and her family, as well and Lybby and her family, went through so much trying to fight this disease,” Peoples wrote. “Both of them don’t want to see this happen to anyone else. ”

The sixth annual Turn the Towns Teal Campaign not only consists of volunteers tying ribbons in and around town centers across the country but also distributing symptom cards to YMCAs, health clubs, libraries, church groups and businesses.

“The ribbons are the visual,” said Jane MacNeil, President of Turn The Towns Teal, in a press release. “The the symptom cards are key in educating people about the disease and its symptoms as when ovarian cancer is detected in the early stages, the survival rate is 90 to 95 percent successful.”

Turn The Towns Teal was founded in 2007 by Gail MacNeil of Chatham, N.J., who during her 10-year battle with the disease realized that not enough was being done for ovarian cancer awareness, the press release said. This year, the group has registrants in 36 states.

“Gail’s gynecologist dismissed her classic symptoms on three separate occasions. Had she known the symptoms of ovarian cancer, she would have immediately sought the advice of a gynecological oncologist,” MacNeil said. “What happened to Gail, unfortunately, is not uncommon. Most women are not diagnosed until it’s too late. Knowing the symptoms and being personally proactive are critical in fighting this disease.”

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