WHEELING - There is no early detection test for ovarian cancer - just symptoms. That is why women need to pay attention to changes in their body.
If the following signs and symptoms persist for more than two weeks, a woman should see her gynecologist: bloating; pelvic or abdominal pain; trouble eating or feeling full quickly; feeling the need to urinate urgently or often; fatigue; upset stomach or heartburn; back pain; pain during sex; and constipation or menstrual changes.
Wheeling resident Denny Stephan's wife, Martha, had been feeling symptoms. But the first diagnosis she received - gas - was an incorrect one. By the time she received the right diagnosis of ovarian cancer, the disease had already progressed to Stage 4. Martha Stephan, known as ''Marti'' to friends and family, died Sept. 26, 2011. She was 69 years old.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Wheeling resident Denny Stephan presents a $4,500 check to National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Pittsburgh Chapter Manager Mary Urban.
As a tribute to his wife, who was an avid runner, Stephan for the past two Septembers has held the ''Marti Wood Stephan Ovarian Cancer Awareness 5K'' to raise money for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Last year, the race raised $10,000. On Tuesday night, Stephan presented Pittsburgh coalition Manager Mary Urban and President Joyce Simons with a check for $4,500 raised by the 2012 race. The money will be used by the chapter to raise awareness of the disease via distribution of literature. The coalition also directs funds for research related to how to improve patients' lives.
''This is to honor her,'' Stephan said.
To help local people get the correct information about ovarian cancer, Stephan has decided to run a satellite office out of his Wheeling home. Anyone wanting information about ovarian cancer can call him at 304-281-8550.
''I'll go anywhere, and I'll bring them literature,'' Stephan said, describing cancer as a ''roller coaster.''
Wheeling resident Miriam Deinhardt said Martha Stephan was her best friend and running coach. During her last days of life, she said Martha Stephan was more concerned about Deinhardt's running time during a recent race than about herself.
''We still all miss her so much,'' she said. "We had been friends for 25 years, but we became really close during the last four. We talked every day."
Deinhardt also served as her friend's nurse while she was receiving treatment, some of which she administered to her at home.
''She ran through chemo. ... She was always worried about how fast her time was,'' Deinhardt said, noting Martha Stephan ran the Boston Marathon four times and participated in every Ogden Newspapers race except for two.
Simons said she is pleased Stephan has taken on the task of spreading the word about ovarian cancer in the Wheeling area.
''It's so wonderful that he is partnering with us in Pittsburgh,'' she said. ''We're trying to reach out to the community in Wheeling now.''
Urban said many women believe the pap test they receive at their doctor's office is used to detect ovarian cancer; however, that test only detects cervical cancer. She also noted many do not know that having breast cancer - which Martha Stephan had fought six years before - is an ovarian cancer risk factor. Other risk factors include a personal or family history of colon cancer, increasing age, a genetic predisposition and undesired infertility.