Gilda, Guts and Goading
I never liked Gilda Radner. I'm of the Joe Piscopo/Eddie Murphy/Tim Kazurinsky generation of SNL fans, and have never gotten what the big deal was about the First Season Cast, especialy Rosanne Rosanadana. Did you have to be drunk or stoned to get the joke? I think maybe the answer is "yes". Added to the list of things I found inexplicable about her was her attraction to Gene Wilder. Being in love with and married to him strikes me as one tiny step above having carnal knowledge of Captain Kangaroo. I just cannot conceive of the appeal.
Three days before I turned 19, Gilda died. Cancer that began in her ovaries spread to her liver and lungs and was untreatable. I was busy with a summer job and didn't pay much attention to the situation, but I remember Gene Wilder pleading with women everywhere to get some kind of test. Since I was 19, immortal and busy it all became background noise. Fast forward 16 years and I'm a married woman in my mid-thirties with my own female health concerns. I'm now taking Gene's words deeply to heart.
Women: Get A CA125 test as part of your annual checkup
Ovarian Cancer is the second most common gynecological cancer, and the most deadly. Caught in time it has a 90% survival rate. This test is how you catch it in time.
It is a simple blood test that measures the amount of a specific protein in your blood. If you have cancer, the number will be elevated above 35. Now, other things can cause that number to spike: a cold, an irritation or an ovarian cyst. However, the test--coupled with ultrasound--can save your life.
Ask Sharon. She has insisted on having the test every year. Her doctor (as OB-Gyns often do) didn't take her seriously, but did the test anyway. She's having surgery this week because repeated CA125 tests in conjunction with CAT scans and Ultrasounds have revealed that she is probably in the early stages of Ovarian cancer. But she caught it in time. If she hadn't asked for the test they wouldn't look for the disease until she started showing symptoms. And then it would be too late.
Sharon will be in the hospital all week. She'll then be recouperating for 5-6 weeks. After that she'll probably be good as new, minus a few odds and ends. The story could have had a different ending, had she not paid attention to Gene Wilder and insisted on the test.
Simple. Ladies, tell your doctors. Men, tell your wives, sisters, mothers to tell their doctors.
Ask Gene. Ask Sharon.
I've gotten one comment here and several emails that talk about CA125's lack of effectiveness. It's true that this test is far from ideal. It's also true that if you are easily made to worry this may not be the test for you because it has a high rate of contamination from other conditions as I mentioned above.
However, until other tests are perfected this is the best option we have at this time.