Kevin Hart and his wife Eniko Parris will soon welcome a baby girl into the family. “Can’t wait to meet our princess,” Hart’s wife, Eniko Parrish, wrote on Instagram (below) as the couple hosted a “Boho-chic” drive-by baby shower — complete with Airstream trailer — to celebrate with friends and family.Read More
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But the happy occasion was missing one important guest. Hart’s mother, Nancy lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 2007 at age 56.
“We Were Close Because of My Mom”
Losing his mom, he told Oprah in a 2014 interview, “has been real tough. The family that we had, we were kind of close, but it was all become of my mom,” said Hart.
“She was forever in school,” Hart told Variety in a 2017 interview. “She was always trying to get a new level within her education — a new master’s or a new degree. She was constantly pushing to be the best version of herself.”
Nancy Hart kept her diagnosis from Hart to prevent him from canceling plans to shoot “Fool’s Gold” in Australia. “I need him to be able to go forward,” she told Hart’s brother, swearing him to secrecy, “because I see him doing great things.”
Advances in Ovarian Cancer Treatment
With no screening test for ovarian cancer, it’s among the more difficult cancers to diagnose early.
Symptoms include abdominal bloating or swelling, quickly feeling full while eating, weight loss, pelvic discomfort or pain, constipation, or a frequent need to urinate — but they’re so non-specific that the disease often goes undetected.
But treatment advances, including genetic testing, minimally invasive surgical techniques, and PARP inhibitor drug therapies have improved the outlook for patients diagnosed today, compared to 2007, when Nancy Hart was fighting the disease over a decade ago.
Genetic Testing at Diagnosis
Experts urge women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, to seek genetic testing at the time of diagnosis, not recurrence. A recent study found that too few women are being tested for mutations of the BRCA gene, like BRCA1 or BRCA2.
The presence of these mutations guides treatment decisions and identifies whether patients — and family members — at a heightened risk for breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
All women diagnosed with ovarian cancer should undergo genetic testing, says Dr. Ursula Matulonis, Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Ovarian cancer usually develops in women who are post-menopause. But younger women may also get the disease, especially if they carry the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes.
Advanced Surgical Techniques
Minimally invasive surgical techniques, including robotic surgery using the “da Vinci Robot,” can benefit about half of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The smaller incisions also help decrease post-operative pain and speed recovery time for patients.
Dr. Allan James (“A.J.”) White a gynecologic oncologist at the START Center for Cancer Care in San Antonio, Texas, has seen robotic surgery dramatically change ovarian cancer treatment.
Robotic surgery uses cameras and special robotic tools to make it possible for surgeons to operate through a series of small incisions, each less than a centimeter in size, around the belly button.
Minimally invasive surgery is most appropriate when the disease is focused in the pelvis.
PARP Inhibitor Drugs
PARP inhibitors can be a beneficial treatment option for many women with ovarian cancer. These oral drugs work by preventing ovarian cancer cells from repairing DNA damage, which prevents them from continuing to divide and spread.
Amanda Westwood, a physician assistant at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Westwood describes PARP inhibitors for ovarian cancer.
“The PARPs have a huge importance in treating ovarian cancer, whether it be upfront maintenance for our BRCA patients or a recurrence setting if they’ve had a partial or complete response, and even down the line they can be used as treatment alone,” says Amanda Westwood, a physician assistant at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.
Westwood describes these different potential options:
- Upfront maintenance: This means receiving PARP inhibitors directly after the first course of chemotherapy. This option is ideal for women with BRCA gene mutations
- Recurrence setting: This option means PARP inhibitors are given after a woman has already had a complete or partial response to treatment in the past.
- Monotherapy: Down the line, PARP inhibitors can sometimes be an option to use as treatment on their own, the technical term for which is “monotherapy”
While some women may experience nausea, the most common side-effect is fatigue. The drugs may also impact blood counts; another reason for close monitoring with lab work.
“But most of the time, patients tolerate PARP inhibitors fairly well,” Westwood says.
PARP inhibitors can have a positive impact on progression-free survival, a term doctors use for living with ovarian cancer for a period of time without seeing it spread or progress.