Tierra Tates is the proud mother of a three year-old but is even prouder to be a cancer survivor.
She is one of a few to beat ovarian cancer, a disease that has already killed 15,500 U.S. women this year.
“I was having all the normal symptoms of ovarian cancer, cramping and bloating- but I thought these were normal things that come with being a woman.”
What was happening to her was far from normal. When ovarian cancer strikes, malignant cells grow inside the main reproductive glands at an out-of-control rate. Often the result is death.
More frequently, it can end the dream of motherhood. But not for Tate who won the struggle with this cancer and used her experience to found Teal is a Big Deal, a Baltimore ovarian cancer support group.
That group, along with similar organizations across the country, has been active in September, which is recognized nationally as Ovarian Cancer Month.
“We focus on educating and empowering women with ovarian cancer and anyone who has lost family to this disease,” Tates explained, adding that teal is the designated signature color for the illness. “We want to help and give support.”
When she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 24 on April 26, 2011, she was told she would never have children, or even be able to carry a baby to full term.
Now, she said, she realizes that an ovarian cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to be a death sentence. And she devotes a lot of time and effort to telling others what she has learned.
According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports, predisposing factors in developing ovarian cancer include family history of breast or ovarian cancer, infertility, and age.
Older women are generally more at risk for developing the condition, as the CDC reports that women over 60 make up a large portion of those affected.