WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Beth Quinn has always lived a healthy lifestyle. The bank executive ate well, ran regularly, and got her yearly exams. So when a constant pain in her side persisted for months, she knew something was wrong.
"I'd wake up in the middle of the night and I'd go run a hot bath and would just sit an soak," Quinn said. "Some days at my office, I would grab my right side."
Quinn went through a series of test and doctors finally determined that she needed to have her gall bladder removed.
That's when the ball dropped.
She knew when Dr. Ellis Tinsley, her surgeon, walked in the room, she knew it wasn't good.
"So I asked him how the surgery went and he goes, 'Well, we got it.' And I could tell by his tone, so I said what else and he goes, 'It was cancer.'"
It was a tumor in the back of her gall bladder coming from her ovaries.
It was ovarian cancer.
"I had never heard of ovarian cancer," Quinn said. "I didn't know anything about it."
There is no specific test for ovarian cancer.
"It is a very compelling disease, no question, and it's scary because we can't really do a lot to diagnose it," Dr. Walter Gajewski said.
Dr. Gajewski is an oncologist who sees many cases of ovarian cancer at the Zimmer Cancer Center. He's also Beth Quinn's doctor.
He says by the time symptoms present themselves, the cancer is usually in the advanced stages.
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pain in pelvic or abdominal area
- Back pain
- Feeling full quickly
- Change in bathroom habits
This year, close to 22,000 women will be diagnosed and about 14,000 will die from ovarian cancer.
Quinn recently traveled to the UNC Cancer Center where she met with the leading researcher trying to find a specific test for ovarian cancer.
Dr. Victoria Bae-Jump said it's important for women to pay attention to their bodies.
"I always say if the symptoms go away after a few days, it's probably nothing, but if they stick around, they should definitely see a doctor," Bae-Jump said.
Quinn said she never got down about her diagnosis and believes it's her mission now to educate women and men about the disease known as the silent killer.
"I never went into a dark hole," Quinn said. "I said you know Lord, I didn't sign up for this. I don't know anything about it, but if you will walk with me, I'll do it and I'll help the very next person."