Nearly every cancer has a color and a month. Or at least, the BIG cancers do. October and the color pink represent breast cancer. September and teal belong to ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is a silent killer. Sometimes, the symptoms are so subtle, women ignore them. What’s a little bloating and abdominal cramping to a busy woman? And if the pap smear was normal, then there isn’t a problem. Right? Wrong. Neither a routine pelvic exam nor pap smear will reveal ovarian cancer. And unless a woman is honest about all her symptoms, the doctor may not think to do an ultrasound-a test that can show ovarian cancer.

There’s no chart or studies that can show if a woman is at risk for ovarian cancer. That’s why it’s so important for women to pay attention to their bodies. Know what’s normal and what isn’t. Discuss changes with your doctor, and know the warning signs and symptoms of gynecologic cancer. If you’re concerned and your doctor brushes off those concerns, be aggressive. Or seek a second opinion.

If you have unusual vaginal bleeding or bleeding after intercourse, see a doctor. If you have abdominal pains and bloating that’s unexplained or different that last longer than two weeks, see a doctor. These symptoms can be due to something other than cancer, but the only way to know for sure is to see a doctor and have some tests.

Check out this website for important information on ovarian cancer. And see your doctor if you’re concerned.

If you have ovarian cancer or know someone who does, support the research. Support the fight to stomp out all cancers. Tonight, celebrities will be joining the fight to Stand Up to Cancer.

My local writing chapter is also raising money for the fight. Donate to Ovarian Cancer research at Duke University Medical Center and get a free book.

But most importantly, if you are a woman and you have some or all of your female parts, make an appointment to see your doctor if you are having ANY unusual gynecologic symptoms. Don’t assume it’s normal if it isn’t normal for you.