Deep Thoughts,  Mom,  Ovarian Cancer,  Spines & Livers & Bones, Oh My!

Eggs ‘n Ovaries


My mom died suddenly two and a half years ago . She’d just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her cancer was quite advanced by the time it was detected, which is too often the case.

I guess people who haven’t lost a parent think I should “be over it,” but the truth is that I think about her every single day. I don’t guess I’ll ever get over it.

About the only thing I can do is to try and make some good come out of this horrific event. And so, here’s some information about ovarian cancer so that you can help prevent it and throw some money at it if you’re so inclined. It would be fantastic if a cure, or at least a decent method of detection for this deadly cancer could be found.

They call ovarian cancer the disease that whispers. Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect because its symptoms are easily confused with other diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome. There is no reliable, easy to administer screening tool that can be administered to all women. The blood test that detects a protein in some women with ovarian cancer, the CA-125, often is not positive until the disease is in its later stages. The CA-125 is elevated in only 25-50% of Stage 1 cancers, making it ineffective as a screening tool. Ultrasound can identify masses in the ovaries, but cannot tell if the masses are cancerous or not.

The five year survival rate for women diagnosed when their cancer is in Stage 1 is 90%. The overall five year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 50%. At Stage 3 the five year survival rate is 35-40%.

By the time my mom’s cancer was diagnosed, she was suffering symptoms such as shortness of breath, bloating, and lack of energy. Her doctor drained over a liter of fluid from her abdomen the same day, and she was scheduled for surgery three days later.

I’m sure each of you know someone who’s been touched by ovarian cancer. If you can’t think of anyone offhand, perhaps some of these names are familiar to you: Gilda Radner, Madeline Kahn, Liz Tilberis, Jessica Tandy, and Shari Lewis. All died of ovarian cancer.
gilda madeline notimetodie1 jessica OBIT LEWIS

There are a number of actions you can take to help find a cure for this deadly disease.

There is a deadline for signing up to get your car tag to support ovarian cancer research in Alabama. Click here to download a form for the tag. You can do it BY MAIL instead of schlepping to the DMV! The deadline is RAPIDLY approaching so go ahead and click over and register now. I’ll wait. (The page also contains information about getting an ovarian cancer tag in Kentucky, and for starting the process to get a tag approved in your state.)

You can read about Brittany Waldrep, whose illness inspired the tag here in Alabama. She passed away in 2006 at the age of 25.

Additionally, we’ll be holding a MOTHERWALK to raise funds for ovarian cancer research on May 10 here in Birmingham. Last year my sisters and I formed a team to walk in memory of my mom and we plan to do the same this year. If you’re nearby, come join us!

Here is the first column I wrote about losing my mom, and here is one I wrote a couple of weeks later.

My mom was always up for an adventure. When she was visiting Israel and she had the chance to ride a camel, she didn’t hesitate. She climbed right up on that camel and showed him who was boss.


Thanks for your support. Please pass this along to anyone else who might be interested in helping with this important cause.


  • Melinda James

    You speak so beautifully for your mother.

    I’m still struggling with the death of my Mom last July from Ovarian Cancer. I can’t seem to find my voice for her, but I’m working on it. My loss is still just too big for me to even think about, without feeling my heart break over and over. I not only lost my Mother but my best friend.

    This is such a sneaky disease. You’re right, most doctors overlook it when all the symptoms are there. It took my Mother six months of doctors visits before one finally got it right, had they discovered it sooner, she might still be here. Am I angry? You bet!

    I hope I can raise a team to walk for her on May 10th. If not, I’ll try to volunteer to help out.

    Melinda James
    Cahaba Heights, Al.

  • Jenni

    Anne- Interesting that you wrote about this today, as just last night I was thinking about you and other women my age I “know” who’ve lost their moms. My mom died around the time yours did and I doubt there’s an hour that goes by that she doesn’t creep into my thoughts, usually in a happy, funny way. But I sure do miss her. Kudos to you for working to help find a path to a cure for ovarian cancer. For that and for your many gifts and talents (like always making me laugh) you must know she is extremely proud of you!

  • Holly

    I haven’t lost a parent, and cannot imagine losing my mom at such a young age. So by no means do I think you should “be over it”. I would never “be over” losing my mom and I’m so sorry you lost yours. She sounds like an incredible woman who loved life!

  • Chandra

    I love your posts about your mom! She is beautiful and you have every right to miss her every day!

    Thanks for educating us and making us a little more aware this! Hopefully we can get a little closer to finder a cure each day!

    God bless you!

    Chandra’s last blog post..100 Things

  • Barbara

    I have been a reader for a while and I always enjoy your posts. I believe I read about your mom in your archives. I am fortunate enough to have both my parents, but I am (at age 43) approaching the time when friends have lost and are losing parents. I hope that you do not have friends that think you should “be over it”. That thought makes me very sad, both for you and for people who may feel that way. (You seem so nice I’m sure you don’t have friends like that, maybe just acquaintances.)

    I believe most people are able to move beyond the unexpected, sobs that well up at unexpected, inconvenient times and places, and may be what the expectation to “be over” is. I do not think anyone who had a loving relationship with their parents would be able to “get over” that loss.

  • Joy East of theKingdom


    I am so glad you posted this!

    A very good friend (my boss) lost her baby sister to ovarian cancer….10 days after she turned SIXTEEN. I have forwarded her the info on the tag and Motherwalk.

    See you there!

  • Erin

    Thank you for posting this. I will definitely pass it along. Even those of us who have read these things before need to be reminded.
    Keep thinking of your mother every day. She sounds like an incredible woman. It has been over 10 years since I lost my father and rarely a day goes by that I don’t think of him. I still cry sometimes over the moments I wish he could be a part of, or that he never knew my wonderful children.

  • Sandra

    12 years ago I lost my Dad to prostate cancer. You know, the cancer that “rarely kills”. I think of him daily, and don’t care when people tell me I should be over it. Most of them can pick up the phone and call their parent. Like Erin above, I wish he could have met my son – they are so alike. Thanks for sharing the information – if it helps one person, it’s worked.

    Sandra’s last blog post..getting my colour fix…

  • 1happymommy

    I lost my mom to breast cancer five years ago and I know I’ll never “get over it”! I miss her every single day! I was three months pregnant at the time and just know that was God’s way of showing me that I would be okay.
    God bless your efforts!

  • jean

    How could anyone think you get over losing your mom? I talk to my mom every day and I can’t imagine not being able to do that. I’m sorry your mom is gone but I’m glad you are honoring her in this way.

  • Keith


    You never “get over” losing a loved one. You learn to deal with the loss. “Getting over” a death is a misnomer. Only you can decide how you deal with it. Some deal with a death the wrong way, like turning to drugs or alcohol. You are trying to help others by posting helpful hints about ovarian cancer and providing links and such. It keeps the memory of your mother fresh in your mind. And that’s a good thing. You are a true class act, Anne.

  • Clearlykels

    It was ten years Saturday that I lost my mom. You don’t get over it. You grow and move on– however, there are some things that just stay with you.

    My grandmother has ovarian cancer right now. It looks good. Let’s hope it stays that way.


    Clearlykels’s last blog post..Time to get out.

  • Jenny


    As all the others above have already said, you will never get over losing your mom. But some days you will find peace.

    I lost my mom 14 years ago to breast cancer. I was just about to graduate from college. I think about her every day, but there is a special poignancy around the big events in my life (graduation, my marriage, the births of my children) and I sometimes forget–just for a second–that she is gone. On those occasions, I feel as though the loss is brand new. The other day, though, something fantastic happened and I had the urge to call her to share my news. Instead of dissolving into a puddle of tears this time, I just smiled. I still miss her, but have finally come to a place where I can almost feel her with me.

    From your description, you sound a lot like your mother and perhaps have a connection like this.

    Thanks for educating all of us about this terrible form of cancer. This is a wonderful service for all of us.

  • joi

    Thanks again Anne for the reminders of what we should be aware of and what we should take the time to alert others of. My grandmother lost her life to Ovarian and Colon Cancer. Not only do I take time for my health, I am compelled to remind others to do the same. I have spread your word on my blog and I hope you don’t mind, I stole your title, with credit due to you of course!

    joi’s last blog post..Eggs n’ Ovaries

  • Angel

    I remember reading posts about your Mom with tears in my eyes because I could not begin to imagine life without my Mama.
    And then…she died very suddenly on April 4th from complications of diabetes. I am, quite frankly, still in shock. Your posts give me hope that I will eventually find a way to make some good come from this overwhelming loss. And I am glad to know that I will never really get over it, because I would never want to be over the wonderful mother I had for far too few years.
    She was a delightful woman who loved to laugh and would be pleased at how often your posts make me snort with laughter. Thnaks for all you do!

  • Kathy

    The Motherwalk sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday morning! I’ll see if I can get my crew to join in. We had a big scare w/ my mom right after Christmas when she had a massive heart attack in the ER. Only because she was already there were they able to help her. That really pushed it to the front of my mind that my parents won’t be around forever.

  • Karyn

    Thank you for being a voice for this conniving, crap-ass killing disease. My thoughts are with you, Glamore. And , by the way, regarding traumatic loss…you will handle it differently today than you will in five, ten, twenty years. But you don’t need to “get over it”.

    Karyn’s last blog post..Free Bird

  • Gayle

    I lost my dad 4 years ago. I don’t think I will ever get over it. He was a huge part of my life. My task has been to translate the pain of losing him into history and memories and trying to give his life some meaning. I found out, in my journey, that in some parts of the city where he grew up, he was a legend for the things that he did. He restored things, repaired engines and thoroughly enjoyed being a volunteer fireman. I have thousands of “Don-isms”.

    One of the places that I found comfort in dealing with the loss was through a formal grief support group. It’s helpful to know that I am not the oly one who feels the way I feel.

    We never get over our losses. We just get used to them.

    Thanks for the post, Anne. Good luck with your walk.