Carrie remake actress Samantha Weinstein died aged 28 following a two-and-a-half-year battle with ovarian cancer.
Her death on May 14 was confirmed to Global News Canada by the star’s father David Weinstein.
The Canadian realized she had ovarian cancer — which affects one in 78 women — aged 25 after being ‘strangely bloated’.
Dubbed an ‘instant killer’, the cancer can rapidly deteriorate from stage 1 to 3 in just a year. The most common type of ovarian cancer can spread in weeks.
Battle: Samantha previously detailed how she was first diagnosed with cancer aged 25 – after realizing she looked ‘strangely bloated’ while walking home from a friend’s house
RIP: Carrie actress Samantha Weinstein has died aged 28 following a two and a half year battle with ovarian cancer
The movie star died on May 14 surrounded by her loved ones at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.
Ms Weinstein bravely documented her cancer and treatment journey on social media, detailing how she was first diagnosed aged 25 — after realizing she looked ‘strangely bloated’ while walking home from a friend’s house.
She wrote in a first-person piece for Love What Matters: ‘It happened almost overnight. I was walking home from a friend’s house after drinking entirely too much red wine, when I noticed I looked strangely bloated.
‘I knew I wasn’t pregnant because I was single and celibate, having just left an emotionally abusive relationship four months previously. My roommate assured me her girlfriends got like this all the time and it was just ovulation… or something.
‘Spoiler alert – it was not ovulation or something.’
Bloating, changes in bowel habits and needing to pee more often are common signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ovarian cysts or even lactose intolerance.
But, when persistent, they can also be symptoms of ovarian cancer.
It is the deadliest of the gynecologic cancers and is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in women.
Ms Weinstein wrote: ‘I was 25 and in the best shape of my life. There was no history of cancer in my family. I had just finished filming a music video with my punk rock band, Killer Virgins, and we were a week away from releasing our first major single…
‘I was at the peak of what I assumed would be the rest of my life as a young creative in Toronto. Then, I started blowing up like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The next thing I knew, I was in the hospital under the disco-ball surgical light in the operating room, counting down from ten.’
Bloating, changes in bowel habits and needing to pee more often are common signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ovarian cysts or even lactose intolerance
‘I spent four excruciating days in the hospital healing from a massive abdominal incision, most of which was spent hallucinating like Hypnotoad at Burning Man.
‘When the nurses made me walk on the third day, I dissociated for the first time, looking down at my body from the ceiling. I only knew what was going on because of YouTube (all that binge watching finally paid off!). After the surgery, my dad drove me back to my parents’ house to recover.
‘Many weeks later, my mom told me I had looked like a ghost when I first walked into their living room; I was so pale and rail thin. It took me weeks to sit up on my own and walk without a cane. I’d never dealt with chronic pain before, or needed to rely on hardcore pain meds.’
The exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, but there are things which are thought to elevate a woman’s risk.
Age and whether a relative has had ovarian and breast cancer in the past can raise the chances, but only one in 10 cases of ovarian cancer has a genetic link.
The faulty genes are the BRCA genes or ones linked to Lynch syndrome — a type of colorectal cancer.
People who have had breast or bowel cancer, or radiotherapy for a previous cancer, are also at greater risk.
If you have endometriosis or diabetes, you will also be at higher risk.
Similarly, if you started your periods at a young age or have not had a baby, because this means you have ovulated more (released more eggs).
Being overweight, smoking and taking hormone replacement therapy or hormonal contraception such as the pill or implant, also contribute to a higher risk.
However, symptoms of the disease are not always obvious, meaning it is often detected late — when it is harder to treat.
Bloating or an increase in the size of the abdomen
It’s usually a tell-tale sign that you’re constipated.
But persistent bloating — not just bloating that comes and goes — is also a key sign of ovarian cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The swelling may be caused by trapped fluid — ascites — that lines the wall of the stomach, Ovarian Cancer Action notes.
In advanced stages of ovarian cancer, bloating can become so severe that the abdomen becomes visibly swollen.
In some cases, this has been mistaken for a pregnancy bump.
Those experiencing severe and visible bloating should seek an immediate appointment with their physician and ask for urgent referrals for further investigations, the charity urges.
Feeling full quickly
Ascites — the same fluid build-up that causes bloating — may also result in feeling full more quickly.
This is another key symptom of ovarian cancer, which also makes finishing even small meals difficult, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you regularly experience any one or more of these symptoms, which aren’t normal for you, it’s important that you contact your physician.
You may be referred for more tests or to see a specialist in hospital if they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated.
Loss of appetite
Just like bloating, loss of appetite can also be caused by a tumor or ascites.
This can cause you to not feel hungry because the fluid pushes against other organs in your stomach.
A loss of appetite could be independent of bloating and feeling full or could be as a result of these symptoms.
Experts recommend keeping a symptom diary to keep track of any symptoms you experience and whether they change.
You can also take this to your doctor to keep them aware of your condition.
Pain in abdomen that doesn’t go away
Persistent pain in the abdomen is another key symptom of ovarian cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But the uncomfortable feeling is similar to period cramps, leading women to assume these stomach troubles are harmless.
If your pain improves when your stress is alleviated, then your symptoms are likely related to stress.
Tumors growing in the pelvis, however, can cause pain in the lower abdomen, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the tumor spreads in the abdomen or the pelvis, it can irritate the tissue in your lower back, experts say.
Needing to pee more often
Needing to go to pass urine more often could be a sign of an infection. But it’s also potentially a symptom of ovarian cancer.
This sign of cancer is not widely known, however.
Just one in 100 women know about it, according to Target Ovarian Cancer.
When a tumor grows on the ovaries, it can push against the bladder — causing more frequent trips to the toilet.
Ascites in the pelvis, compressing the bladder, can also cause women to feel like they need to urinate more frequently.
Internal pressure can also block your ureters, which are the tubes that connect the kidney to the bladder, according to Cancer Research.
If this happens, the urine is unable to drain away, which can cause the kidney to swell.
Changes in bowel habits or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Diarrhea or constipation are common signs of IBS or even food poisoning.
But it’s also a common sign of ovarian cancer.
Some gastrointestinal issues may occur as a result of the growing tumor placing pressure on nearby organs such as the bowel.
If you are aged 50 or older and develop symptoms of IBS for the first time, it is worth undergoing a test, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.
IBS can cause bloating and changes in bowel function, however it does not usually start after the age of 50, the charity notes.
WHAT IS OVARIAN CANCER AND WHAT ARE ITS SYMPTOMS?
Ovarian cancer is a cancer of the ovaries, which are part of the female reproductive system that contain their eggs. There are two ovaries and both are attached to the womb. Cancer on the ovaries can spread to the nearby bowel and bladder.
It is the eighth most common cancer among women, and is most common in women who have had the menopause but it can affect women of any age.
About 66 per cent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in the more advanced stages of the disease.
At the time of diagnosis, 60 per cent of ovarian cancers will have already spread to other parts of the body, bringing the five-year survival rate down to 30 per cent from 90 per cent in the earliest stage.
It’s diagnosed so late because its location in the pelvis means the symptoms can be vague and difficult to recognize, particularly early on.
They’re often the same as symptoms of less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).
The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- Feeling constantly bloated
- A swollen tummy
- Discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area
- Feeling full quickly when eating, or loss of appetite
- Needing to pee more often or more urgently than normal
See your doctor if:
You’ve been feeling bloated most days for the last three weeks
You have other symptoms of ovarian cancer that won’t go away – especially if you’re over 50 or have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, as you may be at a higher risk