There is an ad campaign that’s garnering a lot of attention these days. And I just want to say “Bravo!” to Ovarian Cancer Canada for coming up with a smart, funny and rather cheeky advertisement to create awareness for an under-recognized disease.

The ad encourages women to have the “Ladyballs” to disagree with a male colleague, to ask a guy out on a date, etc. You get the idea. It states that “women have balls too, and they’re at risk.”

If you haven’t seen the TV version of the ad, you can watch it here.

Ovarian Poster

The idea is to start a conversation about the rather vague symptoms of ovarian cancer that often go undiagnosed…bloating, constipation and pelvic pain to name a few. That’s part of the reason why ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecological cancers. It’s often not diagnosed until the cancer is in advanced stages.

Ovarian cancer is much less common than breast cancer, and it hasn’t received the funding or the marketing that breast cancer has. It doesn’t have “teal” awareness, that same way breast cancer is immediately identified with pink.

In 2012, 20,000 women in the United States were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 14,000 of them died. The 5-year survival rate is only 45%. That is shocking, and it has to change. So, let’s be part of that change…shall we?

Let’s finally start talking about ovarian cancer…why has it taken so long?

Back home in Canada, the ad campaign has been very controversial. The critics say the ad insults women by comparing a uniquely female body part – the ovaries – to men’s testicles. They say that women don’t have to stoop to that level to promote an informed female discussion. Some nasty You Tube comments suggest the ad campaign must have been created by “morons.”

Personally, I think the campaign is brilliant. It is attention grabbing and does just what a 30 second TV spot is supposed to do – make you stop, watch and get people talking.

I realize I am not coming at this issue objectively.  Someone very close to me has ovarian cancer. She continues to bravely wage war against a very aggressive disease. The cancer was initially mis-diagnosed as an abdominal hernia, and she’s now undergoing her third round of chemotherapy in just 2 and a half years. Fighting that kind of cancer takes some Ladyballs – and she definitely has some!

It breaks my heart to see her struggle and, as much as I can support her, at times I feel helpless. I guess this blog post – and promoting ovarian cancer awareness – is the one way I feel like I can do something…anything to help.

Ladies, we need to take charge of our own health…no one else is going to do it for us. Get to know your bodies, what’s normal for you and please talk to your doctor about any symptoms that resemble ovarian cancer. The symptoms include:

  • Bloating – increased abdominal size/persistent bloating
  • Eating – difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Pain – in pelvic or abdominal areas
  • Urinary symptoms – urgency or frequency

And remember, if these symptoms are new to you, or persist frequently, for more than three weeks, contact your doctor.

With donations to Ovarian Cancer Canada or the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program at MD Anderson, we will continue to make great strides towards eliminating this horrible disease.  Early detection is key and for that to happen, researchers need to come up with a valid screening test, that doesn’t have a high rate of false positives. That’s the problem with the current CA-125 blood test, but that is all we have right now.

Let’s use our voices and, yeah, social media to get this discussion going. Here’s what you can do: you can share this post and take a picture of your ovaries (using hand signs!) with the hashtag #ladyballs.

I managed to convince my college roommate to pose with me for this picture. Thanks Sandra for having the ladyballs to do it!  xoxo


I challenge the rest of you!! Also, I’d love to know what you think of the ad? You can show this blogger some love by commenting below.

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Author Michelle

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