BALTIMORE (WJZ) — September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Every year, 14,000 women in the U.S. die from ovarian cancer, many not even knowing they have it until it’s too late.
One Baltimore woman who calls her survival a miracle is now on a mission to educate women about the deadly disease.
In October 2012, Rozzie Brilliant heard the words no one ever wants to hear: stage four ovarian cancer.
“I had every sign and symptom, but I didn’t know them,” Brilliant said.
Most women don’t know the symptoms of ovarian cancer, which can include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, trouble eating or feeling full very quickly, the need to urinate and more.
“We all may get some of these symptoms, so the persistence of these symptoms is key,” Dr. Mahsa Mohebtash, an Oncologist at MedStar Good Samaritan, said.
Brilliant’s daughter Ilana, like her mom, has a gene that makes her more vulnerable to reproductive cancers.
“The problem here is that there is no diagnostic tool, there’s no mammogram, no colonoscopy for ovarian cancer,” Ilana said.
On the operating table, doctors discover Ilana actually already had the very cancer she feared.
“I always say, I saved the most precious life in the world to me, my daughter, and from there the rest of the world is out there and I need to conquer it and help other people,” Brilliant said.
This month, Gov. Larry Hogan lit the mansion in teal, the ovarian cancer color, and Brilliant was honored at Johns Hopkins Hospital for her efforts to save other women who get this devastating diagnosis.
“I always say to people, ‘I am your hope,'” Brilliant said.
“The two of us in our life are doing everything we possibly can. We are appreciative, we are alive and we are trying to help everybody else,” she added.