Last October, Dena Edwards Wadden was out for a run when she noticed she was a bit bloated and a bit uncomfortable.
The 34-year-old had just had a daughter the year before but being a nurse practitioner, she decided to get checked out. She was surprised to learn she had stage 1 ovarian cancer and a large tumour in her abdomen.
"So I was probably maybe a bit more aware of these symptoms and what they could represent," she said. "I think that's why I really advocated for myself and wanted to have an ultrasound done to make sure that there was nothing going on further."
Edwards Wadden's cancer was treated quickly and she hasn't had any more issues. However, her diagnosis made her decide to begin raising awareness around ovarian cancer and other gynecological cancers.
"I'm one of the fortunate ones that did have ovarian cancer found in stage one disease but unfortunately, the majority of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer…are diagnosed with late disease, ovarian cancer. And that's why it is called the silent killer."
Fundraising run/walk has doubled its goal
Edwards Wadden has organized Sydney's first Teal to Heal run/walk.The event, which is happening May 8, has already surpassed its fundraising goal of $25,000 and brought in around $50,000.
The money is being used to create a special fund through the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation. To her surprise, the foundation has named it the Dena Edwards Gynecological Oncology Cancer Fund.
"It's been nonstop for (Edwards Wadden) for the last six to eight weeks. She's really, really thrown her heart and soul into this and so for us to see it become so successful is really rewarding," said Jenna Dunlop, the annual giving officer at the hospital foundation.
Edwards Wadden said she wanted to not just raise awareness but provide support for others dealing with gynecological cancers, especially because there is no gynecological oncologist on Cape Breton Island.
New fund meant to offset costs of treatment and care
The new fund is meant to cover the cost of gas cards, meal vouchers, therapy sessions, and child care for people facing ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancer diagnosis.
Although Edwards Wadden didn't have to spend too much time in Halifax, she said there was a noticeable cost when it came to gas and hotel stays for her husband and daughter, who wanted to be nearby. She also had to purchase expensive medication, which was covered by her health insurance but she noted not everyone has a good insurance plan.
But she said it's also important to show other women they are supported.
"We're just going to try to really eliminate as many barriers as we can so people can fully focus on their cancer diagnosis and not have to worry so much about the extra stresses that come along with it," she said.
Edwards Wadden plans to hold the event in the future and eventually work with the hospital foundation to buy equipment for gynecological cancers so that fewer people need to leave Cape Breton for treatment.
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