Wednesday, September 12, 2012
When Hixson resident Karen Collins’ stomach swelled and she began to have gastrointestinal problems last July, she thought the problem was likely due to lesions from a major back surgery she underwent in 2010.
A CAT scan indicated otherwise: ovarian cancer had overtaken Collins’ entire abdomen. By the time she was diagnosed, the cancer had already advanced to stage 3, stage 4 being the most severe.
“She looked at me and said, ‘I’ve got a year to live,’” said Mike Collins of his wife, whose cancer exhibited no warning signs prior to her diagnosis. “That’s one bad thing about ovarian cancer, and why there’s such a need for research.”
The couple has since started the Karen and Mike Collins Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Just as pink has been adopted as the color for breast cancer awareness, teal represents the fight against ovarian cancer. The couple chose the color as the theme of their first Tee Off Un“Teal” There’s a Cure golf tournament fundraiser to be held at Bear Trace in Harrison Friday, Sept. 14.
Lunch and registration for the event begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by the tournament at 1 p.m. Many prizes are up for grabs, including a chance to win a 2012 Range Rover Evoque in the event’s a hole-in-one-competition.
Proceeds will go toward ovarian cancer research as well as the Helene DiStefano Fund, a local organization providing financial assistance to women with cancer and their families.
Collins said his wife currently has no signs of cancer but is not considered cancer-free due to the high recurrence rate of ovarian cancer.
According to Dr. Matthew Block, Collins’ doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., she is among the 50 percent of women who come out of their first treatment with no signs of cancer. Of that group, 60 percent will experience a recurrence of the cancer, often referred to as “the silent killer.”
“Rarely do you catch this disease in the early stages,” said Mike Collins, as to why ovarian cancer is one of the most lethal gynecological diseases, adding that the odds of long-term survival are just 20 percent after five years for a woman with stage 4 ovarian cancer.
He said doctors have yet to pinpoint any possible causes.
“In most cases they call it random,” said Mike Collins, who is hoping to raise around $20,000-$25,000 through the tournament.
He said a portion of these funds will go to the Mayo Clinic for research and clinical trials, which he said are currently underfunded.
No test for early detection exists, which means the majority of women are diagnosed at stage 3 or later, said Mike Collins. He also pointed out that the treatments used today are the same that have been used for the past 15 years.
“There’s just not enough being done,” said Mike Collins, who owns local information technology company Mike Collins & Associates. “We would appreciate anyone coming to play in the tournament, or just making a donation.”