HealthLinks Charleston Sept/Oct 2022

www. Char l es tonPhys i c i ans . com | www.Hea l thL i nksChar l es ton . com | 47 Most people don’t live to see their legacy. However, some people get a peek, even if they don’t know it. Such was the case with Barbara Mowery. The mother, wife and beloved school administrator witnessed her school community uplift her and her family as she fought ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is rough. According to the American Cancer Society, it’s the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths among women each year. Early diagnosis is rare; the symptoms of early ovarian cancer mirror many common ailments – from bleeding and cramping to back pain. Many women don’t seek treatment for symptoms they’ve experienced since they reached puberty. And while five-year survival rates for a stage 1 diagnosis can be as high as 90%, they drop drastically down to 30% for a stage 4 diagnosis. Right after Barbara Mowery turned 50, she, like many women, began experiencing symptoms attributed to menopause: abdominal pain and bleeding. At first an annoyance, the escalation of the symptoms sent her to seek treatment from her doctor, according to her oldest daughter, Katherine Jones. A hysterectomy quickly followed, and the pathology report was shocking: stage 3 ovarian cancer. It’s a difficult diagnosis for anyone, but particularly so for Mowery. A mother of three, with her youngest in eighth grade at the time, Mowery worked full-time at Fort Dorchester High School. Mowery’s friend and colleague, Karen Pascal said, “I saw firsthand how many people gravitated to Barb and enjoyed being around her. Barb was friends with everyone at Fort: counselors, teachers, secretaries, cleaners, coaches, students, administrators. Literally everyone! She took on additional responsibilities such as chaperoning trips, being the women’s soccer team mom, helping with the football games and so much more.” “Literally everyone in her life saw her as a maternal figure. They went to her for help and advice and knew they could trust her with anything,” Jones added, pointing out that she also had a bit of a wild streak. “My mom had a potty mouth. She said crazy things. She just had this very big, funny personality. But she could also be so wise, so kind. She was a guide to everyone and fiercely protective of anyone.” Following her diagnosis, Mowery’s beloved Fort Dorchester community sprang into action. They ordered Wonder Woman shirts, a teal ovarian cancer ribbon in the W. The money THE BARBARA MOWERY STORY A Legacy of Love By Leah Rhyne