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Running with a message

Running with a message

After becoming all too familiar with the symptoms of ovarian cancer, Morrinsville veterinarian and mother Angela McEwan wants to spread the word further. In December she will run the 60 kilometre Kepler Challenge to raise awareness of a disease that can be hard to recognise.

The motivation is personal - Angela’s sister Suzee is currently in advanced stages of ovarian cancer, after receiving a delayed diagnosis.

Kepler Challenge takes place on Te Anau’s mountainous Kepler Track on December 7th 2013 and is one of NZ’s premier trail races. It also has personal connections for Angela. “Growing up in Southland the Kepler Challenge has always had a level of magnetism about it amongst runners. It seemed appropriate to go back to where my sister and I grew up to take on this challenge and awareness campaign.”

Angela’s goal for the campaign is for more women to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer, in time to improve their chances. One woman dies from ovarian cancer every 48 hours in New Zealand, and it is the fourth most common cancer in the country.

Suzee was initially ill for some time with vague symptoms of tiredness, bloating, and abdominal pain, says Angela. “As is often the case with women with ovarian cancer it was misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome and stress. It was only when her cancer was advanced ovarian cancer that she was correctly diagnosed. Unfortunately, far too many women with ovarian cancer have a similar story".

It is common for women with ovarian cancer to be misdiagnosed with more common less serious health matters, she says, and it’s important to be assertive. “Women need to be aware of the main symptoms of ovarian cancer so they can make sure their doctor takes their condition seriously and makes an accurate diagnosis. As women, we know when something is wrong. Ask your doctor to do the tests that rule ovarian cancer out. These tests can be found on the website below. If women remain concerned after seeing a doctor, they should seek a second opinion.”

Although Angela has a running and multisport background, preparing for the race has proved difficult at times. “Fitting everything in around looking after a newborn baby, work, and general life has been challenging. We have a roster so both Steve and I can look after Thomas and fit our training in. The recent long runs of 3-4 hours, often in the cold and dark, got harder, not easier, and mental toughness became my biggest barrier.” The family live at the base of Mt Te Aroha, which has been useful for hill running.

“Just having a sick sister has been challenging too. Getting out and training can be difficult when I'm tired and stressed, but I know I am always better for it. Fortunately I've managed to avoid any major injuries thanks to the good work of Dale McClunie Massage.” She has also had apparel support from New Balance.

Most frequent symptoms:

Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain

Increased abdominal size and persistent bloating

Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly

Sometimes these symptoms may occur on their own or at the same time:

Change in bowel habits

Extreme tiredness

Urinary symptoms

Back pain

A smear test will not detect ovarian cancer.

For more information on Ovarian Cancer, visit


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