This Sunday, New York Giants safety Andrew Adams’ chosen cause for the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” program” will honor a very special person.
Adams, whose cause is the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, is honoring the memory of “Miss Louise,” a childhood friend of his mother’s who recently lost her battle with the disease.
Profile of a Silent Killer
According to the American Cancer Society, about 22,440 women were estimated to receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer and about 14,080 women were estimated to die from the disease this year.
Although the American Cancer Society reports that the rate in which ovarian cancer diagnoses has been falling over the last 20 years, it is still the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women, with a woman’s risk of being diagnosed with the disease at 1 in 75.
About 94% of the patients whose ovarian cancer is found early live beyond the five-year survival rate window.
However, some of the symptoms that are commonly associated with ovarian cancer, such as abdominal bloating, indigestion or nausea; urinary urgency; and persistent fatigue, are often attributed to other environmental factors such as stress, or diet.
In addition to a full physical examination by a doctor, diagnostic tests such as CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs are just some of the methods used to diagnose ovarian cancer.
Treatment usually includes one or more of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The length of treatment is typically planned on the stage of the cancer (how much it’s spread throughout the body), a woman’s health history and other factors.
A Journey of Hope
As a healthy 25-year-old young man, Adams himself will never have to be concerned with being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. But in having witnessed what Louise went through, his firsthand look at how cancer affects a person and those part of the patient’s inner circle was an eye opener.
“I didn’t know too much about it, but I knew it was an issue,” he said. “I knew you could beat it if it was caught early and do the right things.”
What he didn’t know was about the different types of ovarian cancer or the stages and the effects of the treatment—that is until Louise received her diagnosis.
That’s when Adams saw first hand the effect of radiation and chemotherapy has on a person, how both treatments not only drain a person of their energy, they also wreck a person’s physical appearance by causing weight fluctuations, hair loss, and ashen skin.
“You see that on television, but when you see it in person, you really realize how it impacts a person and their loved ones,” he said.
Louise’s battle, which saw her cancer spread to other parts of her body, included, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.
“She started to have some other surgeries which complicated the situation even more,” he said, his voice quivering so slightly. “It just went downhill from there.”
As Louise’s condition deteriorated, Adams, said he did whatever he could to support her through her battle.
“She was staying at our house for most of the offseason, so I interacted with her when I was at home,” he said.
“We watched movies and stuff, but she wasn’t very active because of the treatment. But when she was up to it, we’d do things and just talk and laugh.”
Seeing how Louise responded to the interaction made Adams realize the importance of doing little things to show his support.
“A good support system is huge,” he said. “Having loved ones around you is huge because it can keep your spirits uplifted and help you with your fight. If you feel bad and down, it can get the best of you, so you want to make sure you help keep the person’s spirits up anyway you can.”
In choosing to honor Louise’s memory, Adams reflected on how far he has come in learning more about a disease that he didn’t really know much about until it hit close to home.
“I learned a lot about the disease, about cancer in general,” he said. “It’s a horrible disease and one that hopefully we find a cure for someday.
“Until then, my message to anyone who’s been diagnosed with cancer—whatever kind it is—is to keep fighting and don’t give up hope.”
Adams also stressed that, just like it’s important to be a good teammate in sports, when a loved one is fighting through cancer or any major disease, teamwork is even more important.
“Be there as much as you can to help them through the fight,” he said. “No matter what happens, being there to watch TV or talk, or whatever can help a person take their mind off their illness, even if it’s just for a short while.
“It really does make a difference,” he added. “Miss Louise got the short end of the stick, but I hope that while she was going through it, the love and support we tried to give her helped a bit.”