The Surrey resident is among 30 women featured on a billboard in an international campaign to raise awareness about ovarian cancer, with the tagline “An ad you can’t miss, for a cancer you do.”
On Saturday, May 8, the billboard will be seen at London’s famous Piccadilly Circus and also New York City’s Times Square, in an effort to shed light on a variant of ovarian cancer called low grade serous (LGS).
Eiswerth, who lives in Newton, was diagnosed with advanced LGS in May 2019, and now does what she can to tell others about ovarian cancer symptoms, treatment and research.
“Being a part of the World Ovarian Cancer Day (billboard campaign) is a small way that I can help,” Eiswerth told the Now-Leader.
The campaign, which involves Eiswerth and three other Canadian women, is inspired by the efforts of late Canadian model Elly Mayday, who once entered Times Square in her underwear, showed her surgery scars and held a World Ovarian Cancer Day sign. Mayday (aka Ashley Luther) died in 2019 in Vancouver, at age 30.
Before her diagnosis, Eiswerth says she showed zero symptoms of LGS.
“My cancer was discovered by chance when I went to the doctor for an examination,” she recalled. “My cancer was widespread, I had major abdominal surgery to remove the many tumors and then endured six months of chemotherapy to help treat the tumors that could not be removed.”
A vice-president of a civil engineering firm, she worked throughout the chemotherapy.
Later, she was shocked to learn that the vast majority of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are advanced (stage 3 or 4), as she was, and that most have vague or very few symptoms.
“Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of gynecological cancers by a long shot,” Eiswerth noted. “It can’t be diagnosed by a PAP test or other methods typically used in women’s annual pelvic exams. There have been very few advancements and not enough research.”
On social media, she connected with other women struggling with LGS, many in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
“They had little children at home, others were robbed of their ability to have children – and these young women were dying,” Eiswerth said. “This wasn’t the ‘old womens’ ovarian cancer that I had learned about. I felt so lucky that my children were finished university, married and were set up in their careers. My heart absolutely broke for these young women.”
— Cure Our Ovarian Cancer (@Cure_Ovarian_Ca) May 7, 2020
Through Cure Our Ovarian Cancer (cureourovariancancer.org/ca), an organization founded by New Zealand’s Jane Ludemann, Eiswerth supports B.C. cancer researchers specializing in the variant of ovarian cancer.
“It’s so important we find better treatments,” she emphasized. “We have to keep these young women alive long enough grow old, have a career, raise their children.”
The May 8 billboard campaign, donated by an ad agency, involves a 10-minute loop in London and a 24-hour rotation in New York.