- Sheryl Newman-Overton went to her gynecologist with bloating complaints
- The Florida woman was told everything seemed normal following her checkup
- Five months later, she was told she had Stage IV ovarian cancer
- The 54-year-old is now encouraging women to learn to recognize the symptoms
When Sheryl Newman-Overton went to her gynecologist in July 2015 with a bloated and swollen stomach, she was told it was nothing to worry about.
However, five months later, the mother-of-six and grandmother-of-18 was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer.
Sheryl, a U.S. Army soldier from Tampa, Florida, suspected something was wrong, even though she had never discussed cancer symptoms with her gynecologist.
But after voicing her concerns, only to be told it was nothing, the 54-year-old felt reassured.
Now, she has a 17 percent chance of living to 59.
Sheryl Newman-Overton, pictured with some of her 18 grandchildren, was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer despite being told that her symptoms were nothing to worry about
Tragic: Sheryl, pictured with her husband, went to a gynecologist with complaints of a bloated and swollen stomach but was told her checkup seemed normal
‘I didn’t recognize the symptoms. I didn’t push it,’ Sheryl, who was diagnosed in January 2016, told Fox 5 Atlanta.
Dr Kelly Manahan, who has been treating Sheryl, said that cases like this are far more common than we think and many women often overlook the symptoms.
Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include persistent abdominal bloating and persistent abdominal pain. Because of its similarity to other conditions, women often mistake their discomfort as irritable bowel syndrome or constipation.
The cancer is notoriously difficult for doctors to diagnose because most early ovarian tumors are difficult or impossible to feel.
Only 15 percent of cases are diagnosed at Stage I. Sheryl’s stage is the final stage when chances of survival are at 17 percent.
Sheryl, from Tampa, Florida, pictured with her oncologist Dr Kelly Manahan, had never heard about ovarian cancer before her diagnosis
In the hospital: Following her diagnosis in January 2016, Sheryl said: ‘If they caught this at Stage I, my chance of survival go up.’
HOW TO SPOT OVARIAN CANCER
Ovarian cancer is where the disease originates from the cells in and around the ovary.
In the majority of cases, ovarian cancer affects women over the age of 50, or postmenopausal women.
One in 73 women will develop ovarian cancer in her lifetime.
Signs and symptoms:
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Persistent abdominal bloating
- Urinary frequency
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Feeling full quickly
The two main treatment plans are:
- Surgery, including taking biopsies
- Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, recommended after surgery for most stages of ovarian cancer
Survival rates by stage:
- Stage I ovarian cancer: 92 percent
- Stage II ovarian cancer: 70 percent
- Stage III ovarian cancer: 39 percent
- Stage IV ovarian cancer: 17 percent
‘Ovarian cancer causes a lot of symptoms where people think, “Well, I’m just getting older, my bowel function is getting slower. It’s just one of those things. I’m gaining weight”,’ Dr Manahan told Fox.
Sheryl said she was surprised the cancer went undetected as she had always gotten her yearly mammogram and had gone in for routine check-ups.
‘Why is no one telling this? So we have a fighting chance? If they caught this at Stage I, my chances of survival go up,’ she said.
According to the American Cancer Society, 22,280 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017 and over half that number will die from it.
Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women.
If caught early, the chances of beating the cancer are good. If ovarian cancer is found before it has spread outside the ovary (stages IA and IB), the five-year relative survival rate is 92 percent.
Now Sheryl says she wants to focus on spending time with her family as well as working towards finding a cure.
On Crowdrise, she has started Sheryl’s Soldiers walk for awareness to raise money for cancer research.
In the meantime, she’s doing everything she can to make other women aware of the tell-tale signs that they might be ignoring.
Sheryl told Fox: ‘I want to make other women aware. And if this miserable, hateful disease is going to kill me, then let me at least empower other women to know these symptoms so that it might save their life.’
Sheryl said: ‘If this miserable, hateful disease is going to kill me, then let me at least empower other women to know these symptoms so that it might save their life.’