Ovarian cancer that killed 28-year-old Carrie actress can spread from stage 1 to 3 in a YEAR
Carrie remake actress Samantha Weinstein passed away at age 28 after a two and a half year battle with ovarian cancer.
Her May 14 death was confirmed to Global News Canada by the star’s father, David Weinstein.
The Canadian realized she had ovarian cancer – a condition that affects one in 78 women – at the age of 25 after being ‘strangely bloated’.
The cancer, referred to as an “instant killer,” can rapidly progress from stage 1 to stage 3 in just a year. The most common type of ovarian cancer can spread within weeks.
Battle: Samantha previously described how she was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25 – after realizing she looked ‘oddly bloated’ as she walked home from a friend’s house
RIP: Carrie actress Samantha Weinstein has passed away at age 28 after a two and a half year battle with ovarian cancer
The movie star died May 14 surrounded by her loved ones at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.
Ms Weinstein courageously documented her cancer and treatment journey on social media, describing how she was first diagnosed at the age of 25 – after realizing she looked ‘oddly bloated’ as she walked home from the home of a friend.
She wrote in a first-person piece for Love What Matters, “It happened almost overnight. I was walking home from a friend’s house after drinking too much red wine when I noticed I looked strangely bloated.
“I knew I wasn’t pregnant because I was single and celibate, having just left an emotionally abusive relationship four months earlier. My roommate assured me that her friends were like this all the time and that it was just ovulation… or something.
“Spoiler alert – it wasn’t ovulation or anything.”
Bloating, changes in bowel habits and increased urination are common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ovarian cysts or even lactose intolerance.
But if they persist, they can also be symptoms of ovarian cancer.
It is the deadliest of gynecological cancers and is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in women.
Mrs. Weinstein wrote, “I was 25 and in the best shape of my life. There was no history of cancer in my family. I had just finished filming a music video with my punk rock band, Killer Virgins, and we were a week away from releasing our first big single…
“I was at the height of what I thought the rest of my life would be like as a young creative in Toronto. Then I started blowing up like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The next thing I knew I was in the hospital under the surgical light of the disco ball in the operating room, counting down from ten.”
Bloating, changes in bowel habits and increased urination are common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ovarian cysts or even lactose intolerance
“I spent four excruciating days in the hospital healing from a massive abdominal incision, most of which I hallucinated like Hypnotoad at Burning Man.
“When the nurses let me walk on the third day, I dissociated for the first time and looked at my body from the ceiling. I only knew what was going on thanks to YouTube (all that binge-watching has finally paid off!). After the surgery, my father drove me back to my parents’ house to recover.
“Many weeks later my mom told me I looked like a ghost when I first walked into their living room; I was so pale and thin. It took me weeks to sit alone and walk without a cane. I had never dealt with chronic pain before, or had to rely on hardcore painkillers.”
The exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, but there are things that are thought to increase a woman’s risk.
Age and whether a family member has had ovarian and breast cancer in the past can increase the chance, but only one in 10 cases of ovarian cancer has a genetic link.
The faulty genes are the BRCA genes or genes related to Lynch syndrome – a type of colon cancer.
People who have had breast or colon cancer, or radiotherapy for a previous cancer, are also at greater risk.
If you have endometriosis or diabetes, you are also at higher risk.
Likewise if you started menstruating at a young age or if you didn’t have a baby, as this means you ovulated (released more eggs) more.
Overweight, smoking and taking hormone replacement therapy or hormonal contraception such as the pill or implant also contribute to a higher risk.
However, symptoms of the disease are not always obvious, meaning it is often discovered late – when it is more difficult to treat.
Bloating or an increase in the size of the abdomen
It is usually a telltale sign that you are constipated.
But persistent bloating — not just bloating that comes and goes — is also a major sign of ovarian cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The swelling may be caused by trapped fluid — ascites — lining the wall of the stomach, notes Ovarian Cancer Action.
In advanced stages of ovarian cancer, bloating can become so severe that the abdomen becomes visibly distended.
In some cases, this is mistaken for a pregnancy belly.
Those experiencing severe and visible bloating should make an appointment with their doctor immediately and seek urgent referrals for further investigation, the charity urges.
Feeling full quickly
Ascites — the same fluid buildup that causes bloating — can also make you feel full faster.
This is another major symptom of ovarian cancer, which also makes finishing even small meals difficult, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you regularly experience one or more of these symptoms that are not normal for you, it is important that you contact your doctor.
You may be referred for more tests or to see a specialist in hospital if they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated.
Loss of appetite
Like bloating, loss of appetite can also be caused by a tumor or ascites.
This can keep you from feeling hungry because the fluid pushes against other organs in your stomach.
A loss of appetite can be independent of bloating and fullness or can be a result of these symptoms.
Experts recommend keeping a symptom diary to track what symptoms you experience and if they change.
You can also take this to your doctor to update them on your condition.
Pain in the abdomen that won’t go away
Persistent abdominal pain is another major symptom of ovarian cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But the uncomfortable feeling is similar to menstrual cramps, leading women to think that these stomach problems are harmless.
If your pain improves when your stress is relieved, your symptoms are likely stress related.
However, tumors growing in the pelvis can cause lower abdominal pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the tumor spreads into the abdomen or pelvis, it can irritate the tissue in your lower back, experts say.
Having to urinate more often
Having to urinate more often can be a sign of an infection. But it may also be a symptom of ovarian cancer.
However, this sign of cancer is not widely known.
Only one in 100 women knows about it, according to Target Ovarian Cancer.
When a tumor grows on the ovaries, it can push against the bladder, causing you to go to the toilet more often.
Ascites in the pelvis, which compresses the bladder, can also make women feel like they need to urinate more often.
Internal pressure can also block your ureters, which are the tubes that connect the kidney to the bladder, according to Cancer Research.
When this happens, the urine cannot drain, which can cause the kidney to swell.
Changes in bowel habits or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Diarrhea or constipation are common symptoms of IBS or even food poisoning.
But it is also a common sign of ovarian cancer.
Some gastrointestinal problems can occur as a result of the growing tumor putting pressure on nearby organs such as the intestine.
If you’re age 50 or older and are experiencing symptoms of IBS for the first time, it’s worth getting tested, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.
IBS can cause bloating and changes in bowel function, but it usually doesn’t start after age 50, the charity notes.
WHAT IS Ovarian Cancer AND WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Ovarian cancer is cancer of the ovaries, which are part of the female reproductive system that contains their eggs. There are two ovaries and both are attached to the uterus. Cancer on the ovaries can spread to the nearby bowel and bladder.
It is the eighth most common cancer in women and is most common in women who have had menopause, but it can affect women of any age.
About 66 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in the more advanced stages of the disease.
At the time of diagnosis, 60 percent of ovarian cancers have already spread to other parts of the body, dropping the five-year survival rate from 90 percent at the earliest stage to 30 percent.
It is diagnosed so late because its location in the pelvis makes the symptoms vague and hard to spot, especially at first.
They are often the same as symptoms of less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- Constant bloating
- A swollen abdomen
- Discomfort in your abdomen or pelvic area
- Feeling full quickly while eating, or loss of appetite
- Needing to urinate more often or more urgently than usual
See your doctor if:
You have felt bloated most days in the past three weeks
You have other symptoms of ovarian cancer that will not go away – especially if you are over 50 or have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, as you may be at higher risk