September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, and this is my story. It is also the story shared by 300,000 women diagnosed annually worldwide and over 1 million immediate family members and caregivers.
I learned of my mother’s ovarian cancer diagnosis over the phone — we were separated by 10,000 miles. What followed in the next 11 months were a roller coaster of challenges, hope, healing, prayers and acceptance. My mother was the rock of my life, and, after 11 months of fighting the battle of her life, she bid farewell to us with grace and dignity. I sat beside her and watched her breathe her last in peace, just the way she wanted it- with all her loved ones around her in the same room.
Her death propelled me towards recognizing my life’s true purpose in creating Ovarcome, an ovarian cancer foundation with the mission to raise global awareness, to fund research in search of a cure, and to provide financial assistance to ovarian cancer patients in need. With the help of a phenomenal board, dedicated volunteers, donors, supporters and countless blessings, in a short span of seven years, Ovarcome has awarded more than twelve research grants, have helped several women with our OvarCare financial assistance program both nationally and internationally – a program that has grown from one to almost 100 hospitals nationwide in 5 years, and have hosted many seminars and awareness campaigns to raise awareness on ovarian cancer. Ovarcome established Teal Talk Day in 2017 to be observed annually on September 23, worldwide, to encourage everyone to talk about ovarian cancer and help raise awareness.
We are working tirelessly to save lives of women around the world through education, awareness, empowerment, early action, and support for the underserved. New programs, services, collaborations and partnerships are all in the horizon. We are adding more hospitals nationwide to our list to offer our OvarCare financial assistance program. We are marching forward in our quest to diffuse boundaries and unite hearts in our fight against ovarian cancer.
Despite being the most lethal of all gynecologic cancers, ovarian cancer is not nearly as talked about as it should. We call this a silent disease because the symptoms seem to whisper. But we don’t need to be silent about it. We need to be vocal and give this silent disease a voice. Our goal is to educate and empower women and families around the world to know, understand, and report symptoms earlier so many more lives can be saved by early detection.
I feel fortunate to have found my purpose and passion in life through Ovarcome, and that too, as a path illuminated for me by my mother. When you find your calling and your purpose, you will know it — once you do, take that leap of faith. Every sentence starts with one letter and every vision starts with a dream — take that step, own it, be prepared to learn from failures, celebrate each small victory, seek advice, question the need, be resilient, embrace uncertainty, believe in your convictions, love fiercely and always have faith in your strength to Ovarcome.
On ovarian cancer awareness month, I celebrate and honor every incredible Survivor who inspire us every day to serve with utmost sincerity. I remember the amazing woman my mother was – someone not confined by life and death. Her spirit will live on through this foundation.
Why is ovarian cancer awareness important?
- It is the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers with no reliable screening yet
- Over 70 percent of women are diagnosed at advanced stages due to vague and non-specific symptoms
- If detected early, it has over 95 percent, 5-year survival rate
- One in 75 women develop ovarian cancer in their lifetime
- Family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer increases risk of disease