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Ovarian Cancer Whispers—Even During COVID-19

By Joanie Shawhan

Many of us have heard the whispers of ovarian cancer.

Despite my background in oncology nursing, I had missed an ovarian cancer whisper. Over the course of a few months in 2006, I experienced several bouts of nausea, but I dismissed them as the flu. Fleeting thoughts of ovarian cancer crept into my mind. I rationalized and brushed them away. This nausea is just too infrequent to be cancer.

One night the whisperer roared. I rolled over in bed and felt a large mass in my abdomen—ovarian cancer.

Even in the midst of COVID-19, women are hearing the whispers of ovarian cancer. Many are afraid to go to the doctor, afraid of catching the virus. But these women are unaware of the new enemy they must confront.

As survivors and friends of WOCA, we carry the knowledge to sound the alarm and raise awareness of the most lethal of female cancers. Many of us have shared our stories through Survivors Teaching Students, media, writing, and WOCA at the Capitol.

But how do we share our stories and raise awareness of ovarian cancer while observing stay-at-home orders?

1. Share our stories on social media.

2. Promote the stories of others. The share button on Facebook enables us to easily share another’s post. We can make these posts public with the “world” symbol under privacy.

3. Share the Symptom Saturday WOCA posts, blogs, and events.

4. Create memes with symptoms or messages of survivorship and hope using Pablo or Canva.

5. Share a quote or message that helped you during your cancer journey.

6. Share links to articles related to ovarian cancer.

Even in the midst of Covid-19, we can continue to share our stories. Stories offering hope, help, and encouragement. Together, your story plus my story become our stories of survivorship.

What are your ideas for sharing your story and raising awareness of ovarian cancer during Covid-19?

Joanie’s Bio:

Joanie Shawhan is an ovarian cancer survivor, registered nurse, Selah Awards Finalist for In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer, speaker, and radio and television guest. She speaks to medical students about ovarian cancer in the Survivors Teaching Students program. She belongs to an ovarian cancer group, The Fried Eggs—Sunny-Side Up. You can contact her at

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