“It has been noted through our ISVMA members that pet parents talking about their pet’s health often feel comfortable talking to the veterinarian about their own health concerns. This provides that veterinarian a platform that offers an easy transition into difficult concerns and conversations. Raising awareness about this silent killer and saving lives will be the goal of the VOP. The collaboration and exchange of information can ultimately help save lives,” said Peter Weber, executive director, Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, over 80 percent of veterinarians graduating today are female. This increases the possibility of a personal connection to the disease and a viable tie to the purpose of this program. Even so, ovarian cancer is not just a woman’s disease. Everyone in the family is affected when a woman is diagnosed with the disease, and men can carry the gene and pass that along to their own children. The OCSA VOP’s goal is to raise awareness through veterinarians, and ultimately their clients, about the silent symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Four symptoms common to the disease, bloating, pelvic pain, difficulty eating and frequent or urgent urination, are often ignored warning signs by women. As a result, ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it reaches advanced stages. Each year, over 20,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, and approximately 14,000 women die from the disease.
“This program makes it viable to educate veterinarians in both urban and rural areas about ovarian cancer, its symptoms, and ways to address potential client concerns,” says Vallie Szymanski, executive director of OCSA. “Our organization is dedicated to educating these professionals, going so far as to establish an ongoing educational scholarship in the name of OCSA co-founder, Susan M. Roman who lost her life to the disease in March 2012.”
OCSA was founded by Chicagoans Rick and Susan Roman and Vallie Szymanski after Susan was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer in August of 2009.
The scholarship will be awarded annually after an application process which will be available on the OCSA website by December 1, 2012. For more information about this new program, or ovarian cancer awareness materials, visit www.ovariancancersymptomawareness.org.