When Anola Ketelhohn went in for her yearly physical in 2014, she expressed concerns with bloating, stomach discomfort and even trouble eating – she felt full after only a few bites. She never considered that it could be ovarian cancer – the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. Neither did her doctor, who recommended a colonoscopy to look for possible digestive issues.
When her doctor wasn’t able to complete the colonoscopy due to an obstruction, a CT scan was immediately ordered and revealed a basketball-sized ovarian tumor in her abdomen. Her care team at Avera moved quickly – scheduling an appointment with gynecologic oncologist Luis Rojas, MD, within a day and surgery within five days to remove the tumor. One month after surgery, Anola began a treatment plan that included 18 weekly chemotherapy sessions at Avera Medical Group Gynecologic Oncology . After nine months in remission, the ovarian cancer recurred. This time, she received a different chemotherapy treatment and has now been in remission for nine months.
“During the second round of treatment, I had to rely even more so on my family, friends, co-workers, faith and the power of positive thinking,” she says. “The entire Avera staff has been amazing too. Dr. Rojas is very kind and caring. He always took time to answer my questions and talk with me. He’d even come to the infusion room to check on me. Today, I’m feeling wonderful and celebrating my nine-month remission.”
Ovarian cancer is often known as the “whispering cancer,” because many of the symptoms are also caused by other less serious conditions. If you experience one or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks and if they are a change from how you normally feel, discuss them with your provider.
- Abdominal swelling or bloating
- Pelvic pressure or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms such as having to go frequently or urgently
“I encourage every woman to really listen to her body. Because ovarian cancer whispers, you may not notice it if you aren’t listening. Like myself – I didn’t know about the symptoms, so I never thought that I had ovarian cancer,” says Anola.
Turning The Falls Teal
Today Anola and her husband Bob are passionate about raising awareness about ovarian cancer. “We want women to realize the importance of listening to their bodies and being their own best advocates. If you can notice and describe any changes in your body and then be proactive in getting the help you need, you can beat the odds.”
To help raise awareness, the Ketelhohns organized a Turning the Falls Teal event sponsored by Diamond Mowers, to be held this Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25 at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD. Throughout the weekend event, the Falls of the Big Sioux River will be colored teal, which is the official color for ovarian cancer awareness.