Cyclist promotes awareness of ovarian cancer

Cyclist Joan Kathleen Thompson, a retired B.C. teacher, brought the “Ride for Sheila Rae” through Weyburn on Monday, and she gave a presentation that evening at the Weyburn Public Library.

She lost her sister to ovarian cancer, and she is riding from Vancouver to Halifax to raise awareness of this cancer. She left the West Coast on May 14, and plans to reach Halifax by July 24, with hopes to speaking to people along the way about this cancer.

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At her presentation at the Weyburn library, Thompson spoke of how ovarian cancer is a particularly deadly disease for women with a five-year survival rate of only 44 per cent due to late detection.

By comparison, 90 per cent of men with prostrate cancer and 87 per cent of women with breast cancer have a high survival rate five years after diagnosis, said Thompson.

Her sister was in stage 3 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and she passed away within three years of that diagnosis.The common symptoms of ovarian cancer including a bloating abdomen, feeling full quickly after eating, back pain, abdominal pain and frequent urination.

“It’s extremely common for ovarian cancer to be misdiagnosed,” said Thompson, noting that 85 per cent of women who are diagnosed with it are already in stage 3 or 4. “Most oncologists will tell you they want to be able to catch a lot earlier than that.”

In the days to come, she will be meeting with an ovarian cancer survivors group in Winnipeg, and is hoping at various points along the way to have cyclists join her as they are able. For any cyclists who are available, Thompson will be leaving from River Park at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, June 5, as she will head east on Highway 13, with Carlyle as her next stop before heading on to Souris and Winnipeg, Man.

To donate to Ovarian Cancer Canada, donate to

To follow Thompson's ride, go to, or on Facebook, @OvarianCancerRide, or see her blogsite at