Young Athletes Tie It Teal to Raise Awareness about Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
More than 20,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year. More than 15,000 will die from the disease. Right now, there is no early test to detect it. But during September, survivors, family members and young athletes are trying to change those numbers.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, and more than 3,000 youth athletes on more than 75 teams in Minnesota will be "Tying it Teal," to get people talking about ovarian cancer. They will trade their ordinary shoe laces for teal ones, the color of ovarian cancer awareness.
"We wanted to do something unique, and high impact, that got people talking about ovarian cancer, especially about the symptoms because there is no test," said Becky Lechner, Public Education and Communications Manager for the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance.
Ruth Gaylord was 58 years old and working as a high school choir director when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
"As I began school that year I noticed that I was bloated, and I didn't fit into any of my clothes. I thought this is maybe what they call middle age spread," Gaylord said.
12 years and two recurrences later, she survived.
"I'm just so grateful that I've gotten this far. I feel like I'm going to live forever," Gaylord said.
Like many women, Gaylord was diagnosed at an advanced stage of cancer. The symptoms can seem normal. They include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary problems.
Gaylord believes making people aware of those symptoms can save lives.
"I think young people are much more aware of lots of things than I was when I was young," Gaylord said. "They are very interested in awareness about their health. They are much more health conscious than I think I ever was."
On Thursday night, the girls' volleyball teams from Eastridge and Eastview wore the teal laces during their junior varsity and varsity games. Throughout the month, volleyball, football, tennis, soccer and cheerleading teams will wear them across the state.
Professional athletes are also involved. The St. Paul Saints and their opponents will be wearing teal laces at their Sunday, Sept. 2 game where the laces will be for sale. The Minnesota Twins are holding a "Tie it Teal" night at their Thursday, Sept. 13 game. A limited amount will be given away to the first few hundred fans that walk in the door.
The teal laces are available for purchase at tieitteal.org for $2 a pair. The money funds ovarian cancer research and support programs.
Hundreds will also be wearing the teal shoelaces at the 13th annual Silent No More Walk/Run on Saturday, Sept. 8. To register, click here.