September means more than the end of summer and the start of school. It also means it is time to adorn the trees in town with teal bows.
You may have seen them up around a few trees at Parsippany Hills High School or around town on mailboxes, lamp posts, fences, etc. A splash of color that is more than just decoration.
Turn the Towns Teal is a national campaign, which promotes awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. The campaign places a special emphasis on speaking to women's groups throughout the month to make them aware of the subtle symptoms of the disease.
Founded in 2007 by Gail MacNeil, of Chatham, Turn the Towns Teal’s 2010 campaign had more than 200 community participants nationwide, and was recognized by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition when they asked to get involved last year.
MacNeil was diagnosed with Stage III C ovarian cancer in 1997. She asked her doctor about her symptoms on three separate occasions, but her gynecologist said they were signs of middle age.
MacNeil died in 2008 and her sister-in-law Jane MacNeil, of Mendham, now serves as the president of Turn the Towns Tea. Jane MacNeil coordinates the volunteers in Mendham who tie biodegradable teal ribbons around trees and distribute symptom cards and literature at such local places as grocery stores, YMCAs and shopping malls. Entering its seventh year, this national campaign has volunteers in 38 states and more than 325 participating towns across the country.
Their goal is to make women aware of the symptoms.
"Had she [Gail] known the symptoms of ovarian cancer, she would have immediately sought the advice of a gynecological oncologist,” Jane MacNeil said.
That story is not uncommon.
“Since there is no early detection test for ovarian cancer and the subtle symptoms are very often misdiagnosed. All too often this disease is not found until it’s in the late stages," Jane MacNeil said. "When ovarian cancer is detected in the early stages, the survival rate is 90 to 95 percent successful."
According to the American Cancer Society, some symptoms include:
· abdominal swelling or bloating,
· pelvic pressure or stomach pain,
· trouble eating or feeling full quickly,
· and urinary urgency or frequency.
If any of these symptoms persist for a couple of weeks, women are encouraged to seek medical attention with a gynecologist or a gynecological oncologist.
Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, according to the American Cancer Society, and it estimates about 13,850 women will die by the end of this year from the disease.
The group also states the risk of a woman getting invasive ovarian cancer in her lifetime is 1-in-71 and her chance of dying from it is 1-in-95.
Interested volunteers can order ribbons, campaign pamphlets and symptom cards to distribute at Turn the Towns Teal's website or through their Facebook page. Tie a teal ribbon around a tree, fence post or mailbox on your home property then snap a quick photo and send it to me at Kim@patch.com or text it to me at 845-891-6816.