Ovarian cancer is quiet in its coming, then often swift and shocking. Thirty-four-year-old Inverness, Scotland, resident Michelle Campbell went in for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome this January, but began chemo in April after an inoperable tumor was found, and lost her battle with cancer just after Christmas, less than a year later.
Ovarian cancer, with vague symptoms and no early-detection screening method, is usually advanced when diagnosed. It is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the seventh most common cancer in women worldwide.
Doctors had initially dismissed the possibility of cancer because of Campbell’s age, most diagnosed women being older than 55. Other risk factors are often genetic such as a family history of cancer. Scientists also know that damage to our DNA can be caused by external forces such as ultraviolet radiation or carcinogens in the diet and environment.
Specifically related to ovarian cancer, experts at both the American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer are acknowledging evidence from studies that link the use of talcum powder on the genitals for personal hygiene to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Baby powder, with its gentle reputation, may contribute to 10 percent of new cases of the disease each year.
Awareness and courage are essential tools as women battle for their own health and improvements in worldwide health care.
Campbell was not intimidated by her invasive and unexpected disease, but instead she inspired her family, friends and whole community. She spent her final months organizing a fundraising concert for Macmillan Highlands and the Cancer General Fund at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
Bands from across the decades in Inverness were scheduled to perform Dec. 27 at the Ironworks. Included were Lymerick Smith, due to play their first gig in 10 years; The Lushrollers, in which Robin Abbot, Michelle Campbell’s partner, played bass; Jetstar; Findo Gask; Woodentooth; the Mystic Shoes; and a DJ set from Netsounds, but the concert had to be postponed when she died the day before the event.
In October, Campbell told the Scotsman, “They feel powerless because they can’t cure me. People don’t know what to do. They want to help but don’t know how. But this event gives them something to get involved in and gives them something to help me with. They now feel they can do something for me. It is a good focus for all of us.”
Ironworks spokesman Dougie Brown told Aberdeen Journals, “We will make sure we see that through for her and raise as much money as possible and make it a night where it’s a celebration of her life. We will announce it as soon as we have got a date but it will definitely go ahead.”