Elisa Dawn Wilkinson Kidwell, formerly of Cleveland, will be a guest speaker Thursday at the Celma Mastry Ovarian Cancer Foundation Public Forum in St. Petersburg, Fla. The event will be at the All Children’s Education and Conference Center.
Kidwell, a resident of Clearwater, Fla., is the daughter of Jack and Mary Wilkinson of Cleveland and was a student in the Bradley County schools during the 1970s and 80s. She currently lives in Clearwater with her son, Jeremy.
Although she is a 12-year breast cancer survivor, three years ago Kidwell was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and now struggles to survive this disease with the help of the Ovarian Foundation. She said she is so thankful to be “still standing” today and knows it is “because of all the prayers which have helped her through.”
Kidwell said she now has the opportunity through this appearance at the forum to encourage others with her story.
She has tried to stay active through her ordeal by participating in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s Champions for the Cure and other organizational events which help cancer patients.
Kidwell said she will tell of the challenges and hassles she faces dealing with insurance companies, battling the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, making endless visits to doctors and surviving financially because of lost time at work, the additional medical expenses and the help she was able to receive. “These stresses,” she explained, “sometimes become overwhelming and require living life one day at a time.”
The Celma Mastry Ovarian Foundation seeks to unite family, friends and community to fight ovarian cancer and to raise awareness, educate people, sponsor research for early diagnosis and offer financial assistance to those as necessary.
When ovarian cancer is discovered early, it has a 90 percent cure rate, and yet 16,000 women die from it every year, making it the deadliest reproductive system cancer for women. This is because 80 percent of women discover it too late.
Until now, doctors believed that ovarian cancer had no symptoms. Researchers have discovered, however, that most women with ovarian cancer have some combination of six symptoms critical to early detection. However, these symptoms are so common that they are often missed by women and misdiagnosed by doctors.
When cancer grows in the ovaries, they secrete hormones and other substances that increase gas in the abdominal cavity and slow the bowels down, leading to constipation and a feeling of pressure and fullness. The six critical symptoms are bloating, increased abdominal size, abdominal pain, pelvic pain, difficulty eating and feeling full quickly.
Three doctors are scheduled to speak at this free forum — gynecologist Dr. David Desper, and gynecoloist-oncologists, Dr. Megan Indermaur and Dr. James LaPolla. They will present information on ways to reduce the risk as well as information on the newest diagnosis and treatments for ovarian cancer. They will also provide information on the research and clinical trials which are under way. The event will offer audience question-and-answer sessions.
The last public forum was held in 2005. Drs. Desper and LaPolla serve on the board of the Celma Mastry Ovanian Cancer Foundation. The foundation is managed by all-volunteer board of directors and the Friends of the Foundation, a volunteer and fundraising arm of the foundation.
For more information about the foundation, contact Claudette M. Carlan at (863) 381-2034 or visit Web site: OvarianCanerFoundation.org. To contact Kidwell, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.