September 2012

Medical: Help The Hoo-HAHS

Author: Libby Malphrus

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a pink ribbon somewhere. I think of the amazing difference the Susan G. Komen Foundation has made in reducing the number of breast cancer deaths, all because of one woman’s frustration at watching her sister battle a disease that nobody wanted to talk about and many misunderstood. In stark contrast, gynecological cancers are still rarely discussed, even though 1 in 20 women will be diagnosed in her lifetime. More frightening is that more than 25,000 women will die this year alone.

In 2010, my family became part of these statistics. My mother was diagnosed with stage 3 primary peritoneal/ovarian cancer, and two months later, I was diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer. She battled bloating, fatigue and GI symptoms for months and saw multiple doctors before finally being diagnosed. She endured major surgery and debilitating chemotherapy, and continues her battle, knowing that most women with advanced ovarian cancer don’t live more than five years after diagnosis.

I was 33 years old, had no symptoms, and was only diagnosed through routine screening. Although I am now cancer free, I traded the chance to bear more children for my life. My family’s frustrations led me to create Help the Hoo-Hahs®, a non-profit organization aimed at support and awareness for ovarian, cervical, and all GYN cancers.

Increasing awareness
The majority of cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), and more than 50 percent of people will be exposed in their lifetime. It is crucial for all teens to be vaccinated, since the HPV vaccine can prevent the majority of cervical cancer. Additionally, all women need a yearly pap screen and to know the warning signs of GYN cancers*:
Persistent abdominal bloating or pain
Trouble eating or feeling full after only a small amount of food
Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
Persistent pelvic pain or pain during intercourse
Unusual vaginal bleeding

*Although these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, talk to your gynecologist if these symptoms last for two or more weeks.

Increasing support
Not only is a cancer diagnosis one of the most painful emotional roller coaster rides you’ll ever experience, there is tremendous financial burden. Last year Help the Hoo-Hahs raised over $10,000 with our 5K race, and hundreds came out to show their support. These funds are being used locally for comfort care items, community education and hereditary ovarian cancer testing. September is National Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month, and Help the Hoo-Hahs hopes to raise $20,000 for local women battling GYN cancers. After all, we each owe our life to a Hoo-Hah!

How you can help
2nd Annual Help the Hoo-Hahs 5K Walk/Run
8 a.m., Saturday, September 22, 2012
Savannah Trade & Convention Center
Savannah, Georgia

To learn more, register, or make a tax-deductible donation in someone’s honor, visit You can also see pictures from last year’s event on our Facebook page!

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