Famous Women With Gyn Cancers

by Pamela Rittenhouse September 25, 2015

Why take the time to consider famous women who have faced one of the gynecologic (GYN) cancers? Well, let’s face it. There is something about us that usually finds those stories interesting, and we are more likely to stop and read about a celebrity’s encounter with a serious disease. In doing so, there is a chance we’ll learn something that might help us recognize it if the signs of one of those diseases show up for us or a relative or friend. So, here we go.

Coretta Scott King

After the death of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King carried on the slain Civil Rights activist’s legacy and took an active approach in the struggle for racial equality. Scott King was also an ardent supporter in the women’s movement and LBGT fight for equality. She remained active up until her health started to deteriorate in 2005. Scott King checked into a medical facility in Mexico under a different name for holistic therapy to treat complications of a stroke and advanced stages of ovarian cancer. She passed away in Mexico in January of 2006.

Eva Peron

Often known as Evita, Eva Peron was the first lady of Argentina. She died in the early 1950s when she was only 33 of advanced cervical cancer. Interestingly, her diagnosis was kept a secret from the public and from her. How sad – in our world today, cervical cancer can be screened for prevention or early diagnosis and successful treatment.

Shannon Miller

The most decorated gymnast in U.S. history, Shannon Miller won seven Olympic medals and many others in national and international competitions. But her most important victory to date isn’t gold, silver, or bronze – it’s teal. That’s the color for ovarian cancer awareness. At the age of 33, Miller was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. She has continued to speak out so that other women can learn from her.

More Famous Names We Can Learn From about GYN Cancers

Fran Drescher

As the star of the TV show, ‘The Nanny,’ Fran Drescher made many of us laugh. It was no laughing matter, though, when the actress was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Unlike ovarian cancer, uterine cancer can be fairly easily diagnosed in its early stages and successfully treated. Dresher’s was not diagnosed early, and she has put a lot of effort into awareness so that other women will not have to endure what she did.

Kathy Bates

Bates first made her acting debut in theater before switching to film and television. She rose to prominence after walking away with both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress thanks to her role in the 1990 psychological thriller “Misery.” In 2002, Bates took some time off after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After undergoing treatment, Bates was free and clear to return back to her hectic schedule. However, two years ago Bates announced on twitter than she had been diagnosed breast cancer and had a double mastectomy.

Judy Blume

Millions of women have grown up reading Judy Blume’s books. The famed author was one of the first to write novels for teenagers that discussed sensitive topics like racism, menstruation, bullying and divorce. In 2012, Blume penned a post on her blog that brought many of her readers to tears. She revealed she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and 18 years earlier she had undergone a hysterectomy due to cervical cancer.

There are still more names. Gilda Radner. Liz Lange. Jessica Tandy. Madeline Kahn. Dinah Shore. Loretta Young. Those aren’t all the names of celebrities who faced GYN cancers. But they make the point. If they faced them, we might, too. So?

Here’s What We Should Watch For

According to the American Cancer Society, these can be signs of one of the GYN cancers:

  • abnormal vagina bleeding or discharge
  • abdominal pain
  • pelvic pain or pressure
  • bloating
  • frequent urination
  • trouble eating
  • changes in bathroom habits
  • itching or burning of the vulva
  • change in color of the vulva or skin such as a rash, sores or warts

While these are among the most common early symptoms of the GYN cancers, they’re also common in a lot of other far less serious conditions, which makes them easy to overlook or brush off. If they happen and don’t disappear after just a day or two, talk to your doctor. Be smart. Ask questions.

How To Prevent, Detect And Treat Gyn Cancer

by Lauren Gajda September 18, 2015

Only women get GYN Cancers, yet women hardly know much about them. Is it because it feels unladylike to talk about our most private parts? Well, talking about them with your doctor is smart, and all women should be aware of warning signs. The truth is, cervical cancer can be prevented, and other GYN Cancers can be detected early — both of which can save your life.

Dr. Daylene Ripley, the Gynecologic Oncologist who cares for women with GYN Cancers at North Florida Regional talks with WCJB-TV20 News Anchor Markeya Thomas about these cancers – what women should know and do to increase the chances for earlier detection when treatment is more successful.

September is GYN Cancer Awareness Month, so we’ll continue sharing information that women need to know. For now, watch the video below and learn what Dr. Ripley says about the different types of GYN Cancers and how early diagnosis can increase the chance of survival.

Just One Thing: The Lifesaving Pap

by Lauren Gajda September 18, 2015

Did you know that cervical cancer was a major cause of death among women of childbearing age back in the 1940s? We’ve made huge strides since then because of a little test that was introduced in the 1950s. Any idea what that test is called?

The Pap Smear! If you don’t already know about it, we encourage you to see your gynecologist and have the test done. Honestly, it’s such a simple test that you may have had one recently and forgotten what it was called because it just seems like a normal part of a check-up.

Since the Pap Smear was introduced, cervical cancer and death rates have gone down tremendously in America. The Pap is definitely a lifesaver.

If you haven’t seen you’re gynecologist in a while, make an appointment and ask about the Pap. Don’t let the unknowns of the 1940s affect us today. Just one thing to think about….

The Women’s Center Celebrates 25 Years: Sabrina’s Voice

by Pamela Rittenhouse September 11, 2015

As we continue to mark the 25th Year since the opening of The Women’s Center, we hear this week from another of the voices helping us celebrate this anniversary. This voice comes from Sabrina Aguirre, now the Director of Surgery at the center.

Back To The Beginning If you ask Sabrina Aguirre for one of the most important things that happened to shape the rest of her life, she will tell you about the scholarship she received from North Florida Regional Medical Center about 30 years ago. Born and raised in Gainesville, Sabrina used the scholarship to finish nursing school at Santa Fe Community College. Her commitment to earn the scholarship was to spend at least one year working at North Florida Regional. Now, 28 years later, Sabrina is still here.

After 8 years in oncology nursing and 1 year in infection control, Sabrina decided she wanted to be a part of the hospital’s newest facility – The Women’s Center. When it opened in 1995, Sabrina was as excited as everybody else over the opportunity to bring maternity services to our campus. Fifty-one thousand babies later, she still remembers the excitement of that time. For Sabrina, maternity care was not in the future. For her, it was surgery.

Sabrina Aguirre, RN, Director of Women’s Center Surgery, says the newest OR is her pride and joy. This OR, devoted to robotic surgery, is one Sabrina helped design herself.

When it opened, there were 3 operating rooms at The Women’s Center. Today, there are 5. The newest is a large, state-of-the-art operating room for the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System. This OR is Sabrina’s pride and joy because she worked to design it. About 220 surgeries are performed each month at The Women’s Center by 40 physicians and 20 staff members. Sabrina guides all of this. She reminds everybody that The Women’s Center has been our community’s trailblazer, introducing minimally-invasive surgery for women.

Sabrina pauses at the start of a surgery day with the staff she says is key to the success of the program.

Sabrina says the key to her still being here after 28 years is the staff she counts on each day in the Women’s Center operating rooms. If you ask those staff members about Sabrina, they will tell you she is patient, kind and encourages a sense of humor, especially on demanding days.

Sabrina Aguirre wants to wish The Women’s Center a Happy 25th Anniversary. We thank Sabrina for her dedication to our patients and her special leadership of the staff who provide that care. No matter how many years go by, The Women’s Center will be here doing all we can to raise the bar for women for a very simple reason. Health is Beautiful.

Just One Thing – Gyn Cancers. Knowledge Is Power.

by Lauren Gajda September 11, 2015

Psst…ready to continue our discussion about the not-so-often-talked-about cancers? This time, we don’t just want to talk about GYN Cancers in an e-mail or online. We want to talk in person. The more we talk, the more women will know. The more women know, the better chance of preventing these cancers or catching them early.

So, let’s talk together. Join us for a presentation on GYN Cancers by Gynecologic Oncologist Dr. Daylene Ripley. She’ll cover the risk factors, warning signs and treatment options for GYN cancers. Then, we’ll turn to you (well, we hope you’re in our audience) to ask questions and get the facts.

Our program will take place on Tuesday, September 29 at 6:00pm at The Cancer Center of North Florida Regional.

Knowledge is power – especially when it comes to GYN Cancers. Join us on September 29. Just One Thing to Think About…

Learn more about this event and how to register to reserve your spot. Click on “Events” in the main navigation bar of Women and Wellness or see below.

Nora’s Story: Recovering From Endometrial Cancer

by Lauren Gajda September 11, 2015

Bradford County resident Nora Thompson was careful about going to routine doctor check-ups to be sure she was as healthy as possible. Despite all of her careful monitoring, she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in May 2014. The good news for Nora was that it was caught early. One week after Nora’s diagnosis, Dr. Daylene Ripley, the Gynecologic Oncologist who cares for women with GYN Cancers at North Florida Regional, performed Nora’s hysterectomy. How is Nora doing today and how long was her recovery period? Watch the video below to find out.

Because September is GYN Cancer Awareness Month, we’ll be working all month to share information that women need to know. Keep checking Women and Wellness to learn more all month – and our thanks to Dr. Ripley and her staff for leading this effort.

The Women’s Center Celebrates 25 Years: Lauren’s Voice

by Lauren Gajda September 4, 2015

For 25 years, The Women’s Center of North Florida Regional has focused on delivering the kind of care the women of North Central Florida deserve, which is, of course, the very best care possible! During this anniversary year, we want to celebrate by sharing memories from physicians, providers and patients. Between now and the end of this year, we will hear from 25 voices of The Women’s Center.

This week’s voice is from me, Lauren Gajda. I have been a patient of The Women’s Center for years, but my best memories are of being pregnant with my daughter and then when she was born on October 16, 2014.

I can’t believe almost a year has gone by since the day of her birth. It seems like it was just yesterday. I’m sure all moms know that feeling. I remember speaking with my friend on the way to work that morning and telling her all of the symptoms I was experiencing. She told me that she’d be surprised if I didn’t have the baby that day and couldn’t believe I was going to work. For me, work was the best place to be. As the Marketing Coordinator of North Florida Regional Medical Center, it was the best case scenario to go into labor while at work since I’d already be at the hospital.

After I sent out a few e-mails that morning, I started timing my contractions. They were pretty much every five minutes, so I finally decided that I should give the doctor a call. By the time I got into the doctor’s office, the contractions started coming every two to three minutes, and I heard the words that I had been waiting for – “You’re in labor.”

Those words came around 8:30am, but Allie Shea didn’t come into the world until 8:04 p.m. that night. It was a long day of labor, but I had the best team helping me through it. My Labor and Delivery nurse was Elizabeth Griseck. She was the absolute best and helped me through hours of pushing. She even stayed well past her shift because she had been with me all day and didn’t want to leave me – mostly because she’s an excellent nurse who cares about her patients, but I’m sure part of the reason was because she wanted to see if my baby was going to be a boy or a girl.

Yes, that’s right. My husband Mark and I were traditional and waited to find out the baby’s gender until the day she was born. Mark always told me that there are very few true surprises left in life, and those are the words that kept us from finding out.

I think out of 100 people, 97 people told me I was having a boy. So we were truly surprised when Mark caught her as she was born and announced, “It’s a girl,” to me. My reply was, “No way!”

Allie had to be delivered with the help of forceps because, after hours of pushing, she just could not get over my pelvic bone. My OBGYN was Dr. Anthony Agrios, and I was so lucky to have him there to deliver her. He did everything to make sure that I did not have to have a C-section.

On the day Allie was born, I felt like the luckiest person alive. I had a healthy baby girl in my arms, a wonderful and loving husband by my side and a team of providers who stuck by us throughout the entire pregnancy, labor and postpartum experience.

And now, we have a beautiful almost-one-year-old who is constantly on the move. Allie has been walking since 7 months old, so our girl-on-the-go has now progressed to running, and it’s hard keeping up with her sometimes. But in this fast-paced life, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Even today, The Women’s Center is a large part of our lives because Allie’s pediatrician, Dr. Mary Grooms, is there, too. Dr. Grooms is an amazing physician who has given us so much great guidance as new parents. Her advice has helped Allie to be the healthy and happy baby she is today, and it has led to Allie sleeping through the night since 6 months. A healthy and happy baby who sleeps through the night leads to a healthy and happy mommy and daddy! Win-win!

So, in this 25th anniversary year, my husband and I want to wish The Women’s Center the very best. Thanks for giving the very best in return.