Family fights 'silent killer' in mom's loss

Family fights 'silent killer' in mom's loss

OREGON CITY, Ore. – If you’re a woman who feels bloated or maybe gets full too quickly, it could be a sign of a more serious health problem.

Those are the symptoms of ovarian cancer. It's called the "silent killer," and for a good reason. The disease’s symptoms so are common, they're too often overlooked.

An Oregon City family has called out this killer with the hope you'll learn from their love. This comes after Sheri Hildreth's husband and daughter, who helped her through a five-year battle with ovarian cancer, lost the woman that started this fight for many in the community.

"She never stopped reminding herself of that and others,"  Bruce Hildreth said. "And it's [a fight] I think of constantly."

Before Sheri Hildreth died this past December, she and some friends started SHOC -- the Sheri Hildreth Ovarian Cancer Foundation.

The foundation’s goal is to raise funds and find a cure for ovarian cancer.

"What she did say, if not for her, than for other women," said Sheri Hildreth’s daughter Ashley.

Dr. Tanja Pajovic, at the Knight Cancer Institute, works closely with patients of ovarian cancer (which sees 300 new cases are diagnosed in Oregon every year). She has determined to find new markers for early detection.

"This is what I think about every day," Pajovic said.

Through her microscope, she can see cancer cells growing on an ovary. The SHOC Foundation helped to fund freezers in her lab, which stores tissue samples from patients, for testing. That means the money coming in from the SHOC Foundation has the potential to find a cure for the disease.

Bruce Hildreth recently presented a check for $80,000 to Pajovic and the Knight Cancer Institute. It was the first time Sheri Hildreth hadn’t presented a check herself.

"We know she's here in spirit,” Bruce Hildreth said. “She's probably doing a little 'ya hoo' or 'wooo!'"

The money will go towards more research. But with Oregon and Washington having some of the highest rates of ovarian cancer in the country, awareness is necessary now.

"I want women not to be fearful and not to close their eyes,” Pajovic said. “They know their bodies best and if they notice anything is not right, they should see gynecological attention immediately."

Bruce Hildreth said what keeps him going constantly is that he hears his wife every day, motivating him.

“You know, she says, ‘You got stuff to do, so get going and get out the door,’" he said.

"She was a remarkable person, my mother, and she's missed by a lot of people,” Ashley Hildreth said.

High-risk women are enrolled in the Oregon Ovarian Cancer registry, modeled after the Gilda Radner Foundation in New York.

Common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • An urgency or frequency in uninary symptoms