Ovarian Cancer No Longer Considered Silent Killer

Denver Woman Stresses Importance Of Knowing Your Body

Friends and family often describe Sharon Baumann as the Energizer bunny. Her day starts at 4 a.m, every day. She's a mom, a hands-on manager at the Delectable Egg restaurant in downtown Denver and an avid runner.

"I usually run four miles a day at Wash park. I do 500 sit-ups a night," said Baumann.

Being so active, Baumann knows her body better than anyone else. That proved to come in handy last year.

"Because I work out avidly, I felt like there was like bloating or cramping and it never happened before," said Baumann.

Doctors told her she was healthy. But Baumann was still in pain. She was persistent and kept going back to the doctor's office. Two months later, she found the problem.

"A lab technician came in and wanted to get my blood. I asked why she needed my blood. She informed me she wanted to see how much cancer was in my blood," said Baumann.

In shock, Baumann said she didn't know how to react. She had surgery within a month, which was followed by chemotherapy treatments.

"When it comes to ovarian cancer, if you remove the majority of the tumor and get the tumor down to less than 1 centimeter anywhere in the abdomen, that will help improve your chances of survival," said University of Colorado Hospital Dr. Monique Spillman.

Dr. Spillman studies ovarian cancer at the University of Colorado Hospital. She said the surgery can last eight to 10 hours. Most patients still have to get chemotherapy treatment afterward. Spillman said it's a good reminder to get your check-ups.

"Just getting a pap smear won't detect ovarian cancer. It's made to detect cervical cancer. So they really need to have an internal examination to feel the size and position of the ovaries," said Spillman.

Spillman also said Baumann was smart to be persistent. No one knows your body more than you, she said.

"Some of those symptoms include bloating, pain, urinary frequency or urgency, meaning they feel like they have urinary track infection," said Spillman of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. She said this is why ovarian cancer is no longer considered a silent killer.

"Cancer is a scary word. Cancer can mean death. It can mean life is over," said Baumann.

But Baumann is turning that fear into strength, she said. The strength to keep going even though she says chemo has zapped a lot of her energy. She still walks every day and works full-time. Baumann has even found a way to have fun with her wigs after losing her hair, she said.

"Because it helps with the positive attitude about being bald. Cancer doesn't always make you look beautiful or feel beautiful but if you can work with it, it's a positive thing," said Baumann.

Baumann will take part in the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Race on June 5. If you'd like to take part, or learn more about the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance, go to firstgiving.org/atealribbonevent