ANITA PORTIER, a 54-year-old Ottawa translator, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008. Ovarian cancer is not easy to detect and, by the time she was diagnosed, her abdomen was swollen, she was often out of breath and her pain and fatigue were debilitating.
Anita was diagnosed with stage four cancer that had spread to her lungs, bladder and liver. She underwent intensive chemotherapy before and after surgery. Three years later, Anita has beaten the significant odds against her and is now living beyond her cancer.
Because this cancer can be devastating with a relative survival of only 42%, researchers are working on all fronts to fight ovarian cancer, including learning how it can be prevented. Society-funded researcher, Dr. Anita Koushik is investigating the impact of Vitamin D levels from diet and sunshine exposure and use of anti-inflammatory medications, like aspirin, to determine their effect on ovarian cancer risk.
While treatments for ovarian cancer are getting better, Anita says preventing the disease wherever possible is the best solution. "Prevention research should be first and foremost. If more were known about how to prevent ovarian cancer or if there was a good early detection test, I probably wouldn't have had to go through what I did."