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HEALTHWATCH: Ovarian cancer survivor speaks on awareness

ESCAMBIA COUNTY   --  Ovarian Cancer is the deadliest of all Gynecological cancers -- and there is *no* early detection tests for the disease.
   
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
Meet a survivor who is determined to warn other women -- so they can have a chance too.

Two time Ovarian Cancer survivor Gail Rappa is never without these -- symptom cards.
"Symptoms are so vague, once the symptoms present themselves, you're probably already in Stage Three."
   
That's just where Rappa found herself in 2005.
After ignoring classic Ovarian Cancer symptoms like bloating,   abdominal and pelvic pain  for five months, she went to the doctor.
   
Surgery and treatment worked well.
Rappa began wearing teal -- the official color for the disease -- and handing out symptom cards to anyone who would listen.
(("Ten or fifteen minutes I talked to her about Ovarian Cancer.  Gave her the symptom card and she said, I was meant to meet you today lady.  I going to my doctor now because I have some of these symptoms."))
   
Rappa says two things pulled her through -- one -- a positive attitude...
(("Got off the internet cause everything on there was doom and gloom."))
   
And her physician -- Ovarian Cancer Specialist -- Doctor Steven Decesare.
(("From the get go he said, you're very strong.  I can tell you can make this, never once did he say, anything negative."))
   
Decesare is a Gynecological Oncologist -- one of only two from Pensacola to Tallahassee.

Decesare says many women mistake Ovarian Cancer signs for menstrual or menopausal pain.

His main advice -- listen to your body month to month.
(("Cancer symptoms are progressive.  In other words, they don't typically come and go if you compare yourself to a month ago, you'll be able to say mine are worse than they were a month ago."))
   
Decesare says women over 40 should be especially vigilant but he has had Ovarian Cancer patients as young as 18.

Rappa's cancer came back in 2010, again she battled it successfully coming out even more determined to help others.

She lobbied for funding and research on Capitol Hill and is working with the local group, "Wonderful Wacky Women" on a run for awareness.

"Think the reason I'm a survivor is because I need to get the story out, need to get the message out."

For more health information head to our website and click on the Health tab.
And for more on the Wonderful Wacky Women run, click our "Community Calendar."