(NBC) - See the color pink on a woman's toes and you'd probably think nothing of it. Teal, on the other hand, is an unconventional nail color choice. "It is fun, it is eye catching, it is definitely a conversation starter," says Carey Fitzmaurice.
She's using the color to spread awareness of ovarian cancer, a deadly disease known as the "silent killer." The color teal is to ovarian cancer what pink is to breast cancer. It's the official color for ovarian cancer awareness.
A cancer survivor, Carey Fitzmaurice decided to put that color where anyone and everyone could see it: On her finger and toe nails. She started the organization called "Teal Toes." The idea is that people notice her off-beat pedicure and ask about it.
It leads to frank conversations about the often vague signs of ovarian cancer: Bloating, abdominal pain, feeling full after a small meal, and urination trouble. "These symptoms tend to persist for more than six to eight weeks, and they're often getting worse as opposed to getting better," explains Dr. Steven Waggoner.
Through her pedicure conversations Fitzmaurice found many women confuse ovarian cancer with cervical cancer. "It is not what you get your pap smear for," she says. "It is not what we now have a vaccine for, those are both cervical cancer."
There is no effective screening for ovarian cancer for the general population, making a woman's knowledge of her own body and symptoms critical to early diagnosis when survival is much more likely. "Teal Toes" has legs. Hundreds of women and some men have posted photos of their own teal toes on Facebook.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and salons all over the country are offering specially-priced pedicures when you ask for teal.
Check the "Teal Toes" Facebook page under "notes" for a list of participating salons.
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