But will it do more harm than good?
The brand’s talcum powder is linked to causing ovarian cancer.
Avenger’s hottie Cobie Smulders (you may know her as Robin from How I Met Your Mother), recently stripped off on the cover of Women’s Health magazine, posing topless and showing off her seriously bangin’ bod. But besides revealing a lot of flesh, she also revealed a lot about her battle with Ovarian Cancer, which many people did not know about.
Smulders had tumors on both ovaries, and the cancer spread to her lymph nodes and surrounding tissues. It was only after multiple surgeries over a period of two years that the actor was able to come out on top over the deadly disease. Still acting and pursing her evergrowing career as well as just giving birth to her second child at the start of this year, Smulders wants to educate women about Ovarian Cancer and her experience in overcoming it. And we couldn’t agree more, so today, we’re jumping on the Cobie Smulders bandwagon and giving a little bit of info that could help save your life.
There are signs to look out for that could be related to Ovarian Cancer, but what is important is not only recognising these but being proactive about it. Health is all about prevention over cure, and while unfortunately there may not be a cure for cancer yet, by being proactive and having regular check ups and pap smears, you can recognise it early enough to overcome it.
We should all be very aware of our bodies and any changes we might be experiencing. Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer include abdominal or pelvic pain, increased abdominal size or persistent bloating and needing to urinate often and/or urgently. Other symptoms can be fatigue, an upset stomach, constipation, back pain and pain during sex. You should also keep a watch on your weight and menstrual cycle and if you have any unexplained weight loss or weight gain, or you experience menstrual changes or consistent bleeding in between periods, you should see your doctor.
While being aware and proactive is important, we should also remember not to worry ourselves sick. Many women who experience these changes do not have Ovarian Cancer, and are just experiencing changes in their bodies. We should see our healthcare professionals for proper diagnosis.
We should all be sharing our stories about Ovarian Cancer just as Cobie has, to show our strength and show support for those who are suffering and going through a tough time.
Image via thedailymail.co.uk
Ovarian Cancer is more deadly than Breast Cancer but the general public know much less about it. It has the lowest survival rate of all women’s’ cancers and around a quarter of all Australian’s know someone who has been affected. It’s not detected via pap smear as many women assume but it does have symptoms which can lead to early detection.
Now each February Ovarian Cancer Australia holds a national awareness month. They have a series of initiatives which include; Teal Ribbon Day, Afternoon Teal, #MANicure and #colourforacause to name just a few.
One of the easiest ways to support OCA is #colourforacause. Sponsored by Chemmart Pharmacies they are offering manicures throughout February for a gold coin donation. Plus OCA is encouraging everyone (yes guys you too!) to pain their nails teal. To achieve this Chemmart are selling the official colour for a cause nail polish for only $6.99. Every cent raised will go directly to OCA for support programs, education and research.
Now clearly Ovarian Cancer’s signature colour is teal, yeah? That’s pretty easy to remember but there’s way more information OCA wants all women to know.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Basically it’s a disease where some cells in either one or both ovaries begin to grow abnormally. There are four main types.
- Epithelial Ovarian Cancer – This is the most common type but also the most deadly.
- Borderline Tumours – AKA – ‘low malignant potential’ or LMP tumours. It’s not as aggressive as Epithelial Ovarian Cancer and has better outcomes regardless of when it’s detected.
- Germ Cell Ovarian Cancer – Accounting for five percent of cases and generally found in women under 30.
- Sex-cord Stromal Cell Ovarian Cancer – Also accounts for about five percent of cases but can affect women of any age.
Germ cell and Sex-cord Stromal Cell Ovarian Cancers are often curable. Plus post treatment younger women may still be able to have children if only one ovary has been affected.
The problem with symptoms is that they are complaints which women regularly experience. Additionally these symptoms are often a sign of less serious and more common health problems. The four main ones are:
- Abdominal or pelvic pain.
- Increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating.
- Needing to urinate frequently or urgently.
- Feeling full after eating small amounts.
Additional symptoms include:
- Change in bowel habits.
- Unexplained weight gain or loss.
- Bleeding in-between periods or post menopause.
- Back pain.
- Indigestion or nausea.
- Excessive fatigue.
- Pain during sexual intercourse or bleeding afterward.
Increased risk factors
As well as lifestyle choices such as smoking, eating fatty foods and being overweight there are several other risk factors.
- Genetics: It’s believed that inherited faulty genes account for at least 15 percent of all types of Ovarian Cancers.
- Family History: When two or more blood relatives have been affected by Ovarian or Ovarian and Breast Cancers.
- Cultural: Female descendants of the Ashkenazi Jewish populations are more likely to carry the faulty gene.
- Age: It’s believed that women over 50 who have experienced menopause have an increased risk. However younger women are not immune.
- Child bearing/contraceptives: It’s possible that if the ovaries do not receive a break from their regular routine such as during pregnancy or avoiding menstruation by using the pill the risk may increase.
- Hormonal factors: Experiencing early puberty (before 12) or late menopause (after 50).
- Endometriosis: When the tissue lining the inside of the uterus is also found on the outside of the womb.
If women are concerned that they are experiencing symptoms they should consult a GP as soon as possible. Initially the GP will likely ask their patient to track symptoms using a symptom diary. If the GP suspects Ovarian Cancer after reviewing the diary, further investigations will be made.
Diagnosis is made via several steps. It’s usually initiated with a blood test and transvaginal ultrasound although other tests may be performed. If these inquiries strongly suggest Ovarian Cancer is present, surgery will be recommended.
Currently, surgery is the only confirmation of Ovarian Cancer.
If you want further information or get involved in any of the fund or awareness raising initiatives please click here for the OCA website.
Grab your lippies ladies. Only your brightest hue will do. A slash of vibrant colour on your pout and you’re selfie-ready for Bright Pink Lipstick Day (September 20).
Former Miss Australia-turned-TV-presenter and media personality, Laura Csortan, 36, will be donning the ‘brightest, most obnoxious shade of lippie’ she can find to support Pink Hope, to raise awareness of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
Laura chats to SheSaid about why she’ll be supporting Bright Pink Lipstick Day, her new role as Sydney Racing Ambassador for Australian Turf Club and she shares some of her beauty and style secrets.
Why are you supporting Bright Pink Lipstick Day?
Bright Pink Lipstick Day is a fantastic initiative to get your girlfriends together and have a bit of fun wearing your bright lippie to highlight an issue – hereditary cancer. It is at the forefront of our friends, family and society in general.
Will you be puckering up with bright pink lippie? What shade will you be wearing?
Absolutely! I’ll probably have it all over my teeth too but I’ll give it my best shot! I don’t have a signature pink shade but I will be on the lookout for something bright and obnoxious! It will certainly get the message across.
Is your partner Chris [Joannou, Silverchair bass player] a fan of bright lippie or does he prefer more of a natural gloss on you?
He prefers no makeup at all so bright pink lipstick will scare the bejesus out of him.
How has Pink Hope founder Krystal Barter inspired you?
Cancer is an issue that touches everyone. We all have someone we know or someone close to us who has been touched by cancer. I’ve got a few girlfriends directly affected by breast cancer and this particular strain – BRCA1 – so for Krystal to start Pink Hope after having a preventative double mastectomy herself and about to undergo ovarian preventative surgery next year – it really highlights the fact we need to look at prevention rather than a cure. Having someone who is not afraid to get up and talk about it, takes the mystery out of it.
Angelina Jolie’s decision to go public about her preventative double mastectomy brought incredible attention to the reality of hereditary cancer.
Angelina going public was incredible for Pink Hope. The charity experienced a 700% increase in families reaching out to them, which is why they need additional funding. The more high profile people coming out and speaking about their experience is just what we need.
Has hereditary cancer touched your life?
Thankfully my family and I have not been directly affected. But I certainly keep on top of my regular check-ups. I am very aware.
As Sydney Racing Ambassador for Australian Turf Club, what’s the one fashion faux pas that irks you the most at the track?
There are a few! I like to think of racing as a classic, classy event. Tight frocks, boob tubes and clunky shoes are not racing attire. I like to think ladies should follow some of the dress guidelines.
Describe your style in a word?
First serious fashion splurge?
A crème Prada handbag. I love it and still use it, rarely, because it’s crème and I’m scared of marking it!
A fad you wish you never followed?
I did live through the 80s. I did get stuck into the ra-ra and bubble skirts.
One clothing item you can’t live without?
My black leather pants.
Fashion tip your mother taught you?
Never wear anything too tight. God love her, she’s still right.
Whose wardrobe would you most like to raid?
Cameron Diaz. She always look fab. I like her bubbly but stylish personality.
What’s the most worn thing in your wardrobe?
I like strong basics. I have a beautifully cut Helmut Lang blazer that I wear to death.
Who is your style icon?
Elle Macpherson. I love the way she frocks up.
What would someone learn about you from looking inside your wardrobe?
I’m not big on colour. I’m very much a black, white, navy kind of gal.
What do you wish you had the nerve to wear?
Sometimes I have the urge to go a bit grunge but I don’t know how to pull it off without looking like a dag. Some people make it look so good and I put it on and I look like I need to go back home and clean the house.
What are your beauty bag essentials?
I can’t go anywhere without my Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream for my lips. Especially when travelling. I have a Clinique bronzer that works a treat all over – my décolletage and face etc. I love black eyeliner too.
What foundation do you wear?
I’m wearing a great Elizabeth Arden one at the moment.
Favourite skincare products?
I fluctuate all the time. I will use a commercial brand like Clinique and then mix it up with a plant-based product with no additives.
Favourite salon beauty treatment?
An all-over body massage. You come out feeling completely rested and revived.
Biggest beauty blunder?
Plucking my eyebrows until there was barely anything left. With bushy eyebrows back in, I am thankful they grew back.
Best beauty tip you’ve picked up?
With all the travelling I do, I have a Vitamin-C serum I use on my face. Letting your skin absorb a nice, rich serum on the days you don’t have to wear makeup is a must.
Favourite beauty bargain?
Tom Ford Black Orchid .
Bright Pink Lipstick Day – Fact Box
- Pink Hope is Australia’s only genetic cancer charity developed to support families who face hereditary cancer. Bright Pink Lipstick Day, launched in 2012, raises money to help high-risk families to be educated, informed and be proactive, ultimately helping them take the right step to reduce the risk of cancer.
- Pink Hope founder and BRCA1 carrier, Krystal Barter, was 22 when she discovered she had the gene fault that gave her an 85% chance of developing breast cancer and up to 65% of ovarian cancer. Krystal’s mother, grandmother and great-grandmother had all fought breast cancer.
- In 2009, at age 25 and with two young sons, Krystal had a pre-emptive double mastectomy. Krystal is now a healthy 30-year-old Mum of three children and plans to have her ovarian preventative surgery in 2014 to make a final stand against her family’s cancer curse.
- In Australia, it’s believed nearly 250,000 men and women carry a hereditary gene that puts them at increased risk of breast, ovarian, prostate and other cancers.
How You Can Help Raise Money and Awareness
Bright Pink Lipstick Day is supported by Revlon, who are releasing a limited edition shade called ‘Pink Hope’, on sale in September from Priceline, Target and selected pharmacies. Revlon will donate $25,000 from sales of the limited edition lipstick to Pink Hope.
Gather your girlfriends, pop on your brightest lipstick, pucker up, pout and pose for a good-cause selfie. Share your good work on social media using hashtags #brightpinklipstickday #pinkhopeaus #revlon and make a donation to Pink Hope. For more information on how to donate visit www.pinkhope.org.au
She did an “Angelina Jolie” long before Angelina did it herself. But while the superstar received global recognition for undergoing a preventative double mastectomy and sharing her experience for the benefit of other women, Krystal Barter’s decision to have the surgery was at time when it was little-discussed or understood.
The lack of information and professional psychological support available in 2008 left the then-25-year-old Sydney mum of two young boys with a devastating sense of isolation and anxiety. Despite the unwavering help and encouragement of her husband, Chris, family and many friends, Krystal felt very much alone.
Rather than succumb to her turmoil she was inspired by her mother, a breast cancer survivor, to channel her experience into a crusade to make the journey a whole lot easier for others in future.
It was conceived in her hospital bed while Krystal was recovering from her preventative double mastectomy and, in 2009, Pink Hope was born. It is Australia’s first online community focusing on informing, empowering and supporting women at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer and their families.
On September 20, Pink Hope is staging its annual Bright Pink Lipstick Day, encouraging women to “wear, share and show you care”; to raise awareness of breast and ovarian cancers as well as funds for Pink Hope’s work. But more of that shortly …
When Krystal made the monumental decision to have both breasts pre-emptively removed and reconstructed, she had lived in the shadow of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers her whole life.
“I grew up part of a family where pretty much every woman didn’t have any breasts,” she says. “Of the 25 women in our extended family, 80 per cent of them died from breast and/or ovarian cancer. My great-grandma was 68 when she was diagnosed. My Nan was 44. My mum, Julie, was only 36. So I also grew up scared I was going to get cancer.”
Krystal’s mother and grandmother were among the first women in Australia to be tested for and diagnosed with the BRCA1 (breast cancer) gene fault, the same as Angelina Jolie’s, which meant that Krystal was at very high risk for developing the disease.
Yet she wasn’t emotionally ready to be tested until she was 22 and cradling her first baby son in her arms. It was then she decided she was finally ready for “the gift of knowledge”. It wasn’t for another three years, however, that she was ready to contemplate a preventative mastectomy and only then when an abnormal mammogram result tipped the balance.
“I wanted to live my life, not under the cloud of cancer, but in happiness with my kids,” she recalls. “I decided, right then and there, book me in. Losing my breasts was such a small price to pay. I had the operation and it felt like my new life started.”
Nevertheless the decision wasn’t a clear-cut one, and nor did she simply recover from her surgical wounds and breeze on with her “new life”.
Preventative mastectomy, even as recently as five years ago, was shrouded in myth and mystery and the lack of information available created a sense of isolation that Krystal found traumatic.
But from childhood, Krystal’s mum had encouraged her to help other people, particularly through charity work. This was the genesis of Pink Hope, “a support network, source of accredited information, haven of support and trusted place to ask questions. [It] is a testament to Krystal’s spirit and dedication,” according to a testimonial when she was nominated for the 2012 NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year award.
“With more than 2500 forum members, millions of web visits, 28,000 social media followers and 100 national ambassadors, the website highlights the importance of Krystal’s storytelling and rare ability to bring people together to raise the profile of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.”
Krystal, now 30 – and with a third child, daughter Bonnie, added to her brood since her surgery – demurs. “I’m just an example of the 120,000 Australian women who walk this journey every day,” she says. “Having experienced the isolation and lack of information for women like me first hand, I decided to be proactive about helping others.
“I didn’t have anyone to talk to who had gone through what I was going through – throughout my journey from being a young girl whose mother, grandmother and great grandmother had breast cancer, to the genetic testing and the anxiety of knowing I had an 87 per cent chance of breast cancer and up to a 60 per cent chance of ovarian cancer.
“Then there was the preventative surgery itself. There was no support outside the doctor’s office to help me understand my risk and options.
“I thought, `Why hasn’t someone created something to help people like me?’ And then I realised `I am the someone and I’ve got to do it’.
“I came out of surgery knowing I was the first woman in my family who wouldn’t have to battle breast cancer. I felt strong and alive and, for the first time in so long, I felt like `me’ again. I wanted to share this feeling with others and make sure no woman had to go through what I went through alone.
“So as I lay in my hospital bed, I got on my laptop and started Pink Hope. And here we are.”
Bright Pink Lipstick Day came about because “I wanted to give families like mine a day globally that belonged to them,” Krystal says. “I’m a girly girl at heart. I love to wear bright lipstick, so that was the start.
“A big part of the community we’ve created is to be engaging, positive and bright and I wanted to create an awareness day that reflected that.
Wearing bright pink lipstick is a fun and fabulous way to increase awareness and also engage with the community in a way that they can enjoy and share.
“We’ve also aligned Bright Pink Lipstick Day with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Month in the US to raise awareness as much as we can on an international, as well as national, level.”
Revlon is a major sponsor of Bright Pink Lipstick Day and, indeed, has created a Limited Edition Pink Hope lipstick that is available this month from Target, Priceline and selected pharmacies.
“By slicking on your brightest pink Revlon lipstick, you are promoting the importance that all women everywhere should be proactive about their breast and ovarian health by investigating their family history,” Krystal adds.
Says Janet Muggivan, Revlon Corporate Communications Asia/Pacific: “Revlon has supported women’s cancers for many years now. The Los Angeles and New York Revlon Runs/Walks have become famous for the funds raised going to women’s cancers.
“We believe Pink Hope is a valuable resource and, as someone who has actually walked that path, Krystal’s work is invaluable to women dealing with cancer.
“Pink Hope and the Bright Pink Lipstick Day have the perfect synergy with Revlon, whose core message is for women to use makeup to express themselves.”
Other business sponsors include Deshabille, Running Bare, Murchison-Hume and Skipping Girl, “who have created gorgeous products and in-store sales for Pink Hope,” says Krystal. “Going Up Elevators has given us an office within their warehouse and space to store everything.
“My family lives and breathes Pink Hope – my mum and grandmas help in the office as well. We literally have one part-time employee and a small group of people who volunteer their time when they can.
“There have been so many amazing people who have helped me along the way. My husband, Mum, Dad and my Nans. They have helped me pack boxes, attend fundraisers, cleaned my house when things have got incredible busy … so much else. It’s a real family effort.
“[Nine Network Today Show co-host] Karl Stefanovic is also an amazing family friend. He made sure Today supported me when we started Pink Hope and has been there ever since. I am so grateful for his support and friendship.
“Bright Pink Lipstick Day is our one big event that can help us to create a more permanent team and help us help the community that no one else is putting the time into.
“We are hopeful we can raise significant money so Pink Hope can grow and keep up with demand. I desperately would love to have a genetic counsellor who works alongside me making sure all the information, support mechanisms and families are supported at a high health care level.”
Although Krystal was in fact the pioneer, she can’t thank Angelina Jolie enough.
“It wasn’t until May this year when we were called upon as the only unique charity to pass comment on Angelina’s story around the country and in the UK that I felt the media, health care community and philanthropic sector could see how truly valuable Pink Hope is,” she says.
“I hope people will give generously to Bright Pink Lipstick Day – either by fundraising, donating, becoming a sponsor or holding a workplace event. Any donation, however big or small, won’t be a drop in the ocean. It will make a huge difference to our charity.”
Krystal’s passion for making other women more at peace with their journey is sharing tit-bits, if you’ll pardon the pun, of personal information about her own experience.
She was recently chatted up by a hopeful admirer, who admired her new-ish cleavage (which she says is better than the one Nature provided). “I said to him, `Well, you know I don’t have any nipples?’. He just replied, `Then you’re the sexiest woman without nipples I’ve ever met …’.”
To learn more about Pink Hope and how to participate in Bright Pink Lipstick Day, visit www.pinkhope.org.au.
Jenni Gilbert is a longtime journalist with a passion for sourcing and sharing information about how to look and feel better, inside and out. Jenni’s resume includes Editor-in-Chief of New Idea, launch editor of Good Medicine magazine, London correspondent for Fairfax’s The Sun newspaper – she even covered the wedding of Charles and Diana! – Deputy Editor of Who, senior writer for Woman’s Day, News & Features Editor of The Australian Women’s Weekly and much more. Family, friends, her cat, travelling, Pilates, yoga, holistic health and anti-ageing treatments are what makes Jenni’s life go round.