Help spread awareness of ovarian cancer

South Coast Federal Credit Union’s Kenneth Couto recently shared his personal experience of losing his wife to ovarian cancer in a recent letter to the editor, shared by several local publications.

I am writing at the behest of my late wife, Rhonda Couto, with the hope of increasing the awareness of ovarian cancer. Rhonda died two years ago from ovarian cancer and it was her mission to spread awareness, support survivors and raise money in order to help women and families impacted by this disease.

Ovarian cancer is diagnosed annually in nearly 250,000 women globally and is responsible for approximately 140,000 deaths each year. Statistics show just 45 percent of woman with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared to 89 percent of women with breast cancer.

Rhonda was an extremely intelligent, thorough and focused individual. She was well informed on a wide range of topics and was very conscientious of her health. Rhonda, like most women, knew the importance of scheduling routine health screenings such as a colonoscopy, pap smear and mammogram. She was well aware that these examinations often lead to the successful treatment of colon, breast and cervical cancer.

Ovarian cancer, like the above diseases, can be successfully treated or cured with early diagnosis and prompt treatment. The big difference is that ovarian cancer DOES NOT have a screening process. Women, for the most, part are on their own in determining whether they could be afflicted by this horrible disease.

The question becomes: what can be done to diagnosis ovarian cancer in its earliest stages? The difficult part is that the symptoms are often vague and subtle. These symptoms include the following:

  • Pelvic, abdominal and/or back pain
  • Indigestion
  • Bloating
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary urgency
  • Nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Diarrhea

It is also extremely important to know your family history. A woman with a family history of other types of cancer, such as breast or colorectal, has an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Advise your health care provider of your family medical history and discuss your symptoms if they persist for more than two to three weeks. It is crucial to be your own advocate.

On September 16, the 2nd Annual Rhonda Couto Memorial Golf Tournament will be played to continue Rhonda’s mission to promote ovarian cancer awareness, raise money for research and support survivors and their families. With September designated as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, I could think of no better time to share this information. Our hope is that we might even be able to save a life. Rhonda would approve.


The Family of Rhonda Couto, East Freetown