Atlanta waxing studio and Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance educate women about the ‘silent killer’

Cases can go undiagnosed for years because symptoms may seem so common, many women don’t realize they have the disease until it is too late.
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 8:36 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - An Atlanta-area waxing studio has partnered with Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance (GOCA) to educate hundreds of customers about the deadly disease.

Raquel Souza, owner of Sweet Peach Wax Studio, built her business on boosting safety in the beauty industry.

“Sweet Peach is not about beauty, it’s about health. Here we are careful about the products we use on clients’ skin,” said Souza.

Souza does not confine client safety to the studio. Sweet Peach customers receive an information card about ovarian cancer upon checkout.

“We need to be more aggressive in this and talk to more women about it,” explained Souza.

Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women. Cases can go undiagnosed for years because symptoms may seem so common, many women don’t realize they have the disease until it is too late.

Ovarian cancer symptoms include fatigue, difficulty eating, feeling full quickly, nausea or heartburn, frequent and urgent urination, pain during sex, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, menstrual changes, and pain in the back or pelvic and abdominal region.

The educational effort is a partnership between Sweet Peach and Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

“If we can save one life, it’s good,” said Souza.

GOCA Executive Director Doug Barron said the goal was to reach a new audience and help diagnose women earlier.

“It’s terrifying. It’s frustrating. We’ve had some women who go through 18 months before they’re diagnosed,” said Barron. “You’ve got this time bomb ticking inside these women that could kill them in a year.”

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 20,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year. Just over 13,000 will die from the disease in 2023.

The disease is often called “the silent killer.” There is no reliable screening test to detect early-stage ovarian cancer. People with symptoms often undergo a pelvic exam, ultrasound, and blood test to get diagnosed.

“Almost 80 percent of cases are diagnosed at that late stage when survivability is at its worst,” said Barron.

The educational campaign is Souza’s latest initiative to prioritize customer health since opening her business 11 years ago. She has also taken steps including a swap from commonly-used baby powder to cornstarch on waxing areas after reports linking some talc-based baby powders to ovarian cancer.

Conversation and education have already been partially responsible for saving a life at Sweet Peach after a regular client complained of unusual abdominal pain to Raquel.

“Out of the blue, out of nowhere, I asked her, ‘Why don’t you check your ovarian?’” explained Raquel. “Three months later, she called me to tell me, ‘I found out I have ovarian cancer.”

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The GOCA Teal Trot 5K Run And Walk is Sept. 16 at Chastain Park. The event begins at 9:30 a.m. and is free for survivors and patients. Proceeds benefit the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance.