Science Care’s Team & Ovarian Cancer

Science Care’s Team & Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer occurs when something goes wrong on the cellular level and cancerous cells begin to grow in the ovaries or related areas. Ovarian cancer can develop and spread throughout the abdomen before it causes any detectable symptoms, which can make early detection and treatment more difficult.

Once they develop, symptoms can present as pelvic or abdominal pain, bloating, an increase in the size of your abdomen, frequent urination, abnormal discharge, or changes in your bowel habits. If you notice the presence of these symptoms, schedule a visit to talk to your doctor.

For Ruth Ameden, Donor Services Case Management Coordinator, Ovarian Cancer is a very personal topic.

“My mom, Ellen Burke, was diagnosed with stage four Ovarian Cancer in 2000 at the age of 59,” Ruth said. “During a hospitalization, they found a large tumor that had spread to her lungs.”

Ellen’s pre-existing cardiac status meant she was not eligible for surgery, so she received chemotherapy to help shrink the tumor. Even with this treatment, doctors gave Ellen six months to live and encouraged her to get her affairs in order. 

Born and raised in New York, Ellen was a “typical” New Yorker — honest to a fault, direct, and never one to mince her words.

“I would not describe her as overly emotional or affectionate,” Ruth said. “Cancer humbled her in a way that I was not expecting. She wanted to fix relationships, talk to people, and tell them she loved them.” 

As a nurse and a caregiver to her late husband, Ellen neglected her own health in her efforts to care for others.

“Watching her go through medical challenges made me realize you cannot take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first,” Ruth said. “Preventative checkups and testing aren’t something we should neglect.”

As with most cancers, early detection is key. Ovarian cancer is rare and hard to detect due to the vague nature and late-development of symptoms.

“The most important thing I took away from this experience with my mom is to make sure that you are living each day to the fullest.”

“We all have responsibilities, but we are only on this Earth for a finite amount of time. Making your health a priority and spending time with your loved ones is important,” Ruth said.

Ruth has been a member of the Science Care team since 2017. As a case manager, she strives to help families honor their loved ones with the gift of body donation.

“I wish my mom had been able to be part of a program like Science Care,” Ruth said. “I think she would have found comfort in the fact that she could be part of vital research to develop better treatment for this devastating disease.”

Science Care donors continually play a key role in scientific advancements. Body donors have contributed to numerous recent projects that have impacted the medical communities understanding and treatment for different cancers. Research focused on identifying biomarkers and developing diagnostic assays are just two examples of this important work that is made possible by the gift of body donation.

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