DENVER – Mary Kaye Dolan Hall isn’t planning on running in this year’s Jodi’s Race for Awareness of ovarian cancer. Instead, she’s hoping to be with her newborn, or at least giving birth.
“If we haven’t had the baby by then, I’ll probably waddle around the park here,” she said. “There are a lot of benches around here, so I can take some breaks.”
A few years ago, having a baby didn’t seem possible for Mary Kaye and her husband. She was just 33 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“We didn’t think it would be possible. So kind of a miracle, I would say,” Mary Kaye said.
Diagnosing ovarian cancer can be difficult. There are no tests for the disease. And some of the symptoms, like persistent bloating, a sudden change in appetite, or even frequent trips to the bathroom, often go unnoticed. For Mary Kaye, it was a sharp pain in the abdomen that wouldn’t go away that led her to go see her doctor.
Dr. Jill Alldredge, an assistant professor of gynecological oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said many women don’t realize the feelings they’re experiencing are potential signs of cancer.
“Unfortunately, because those symptoms are so subtle, often times women write them off to other things,” Dr. Alldredge said. ”Often times, those symptoms can be minimized or written off and that’s not what we want.”
Dr. Alldredge said putting off a trip to the doctor often results in ovarian cancer not being diagnosed until it has advanced to stage three or four. At those stages, the chances of surviving the disease are worse.
A woman’s risk of ovarian cancer is often linked to her genetics, but for many women, like Mary Kaye, it just develops randomly.
“I did the genetic testing and there was no correlation to any genes,” she said.
That’s why being a part of Jodi’s Race the past few years has been so important to Mary Kaye. Not only does it help fund programs through the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance, it helps spread awareness about the disease the warning signs women need to watch for.
“If there is anything that you feel is off about your body or has changed that just doesn’t feel right, it’s important to get into the doctor,” she said.
You can learn about those warning signs and support the programs of COCA by taking part in the 2021 Jodi’s Race for Awareness. There is an in-person race on Saturday, June 12 at Denver’s City Park and a virtual event Sunday, June 13 hosted by Denver7’s Jaclyn Allen.
June 13 is also Mary Kaye’s due date.