Ten Years and Running
On April 23, 2005, nine women sat around a table at Renee’s Survivor Shop to discuss what we could do to educate other women on the early warning signs of ovarian cancer. Included in this conversation were a social worker, a nurse, four women currently in treatment for ovarian cancer, two ladies supporting a friend or family, and myself.
That day we began our mission to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and support research, which is vital for early detection and saving lives. But there was one big problem: Money. Knowing that if we were to grow the Ovarian Cancer Connection (OCC), we needed to raise funds. So with my credit card and a few donations, we began to plan our first walk, which was on the calendar in four months.
Our First Ovarian Cancer Walk
The walk took place at Oak Openings Metropark on a very stormy morning in August. The sky was black and lightning flashed around us as cars filled the parking lot and many gathered under the shelter house to register. The sky grew darker as if nighttime was setting in as it became very difficult for everyone to see but suddenly there was light! Several strangers went to their cars and turned on their headlights to brighten the area.
The opening ceremony was to begin at 9:45 a.m. and by then the rain was just a drizzle and people began to gather around our honorary chairs, Susan Ross Wells and Timm Morrison, as they shared their personal stories on the impact ovarian cancer has had on their lives.
The survivors began to position themselves at the beginning of the walk carrying their survivor flags and banners proudly and suddenly the black clouds parted and the sun peaked through as if the ladies who had fought and lost their fight with ovarian cancer were smiling down upon us. At that moment I knew starting the OCC was meant to be.
In Honor of Ellen Jackson
Over the next three years our walk events were hampered by rain and I would comment, “It’s raining, and the ladies in heaven are crying tears of joy because we were raising awareness about ovarian cancer.”
However, our fourth walk was another saturated event with record amounts of rain and I looked to the heavens and told the ladies, “Enough is enough!” From that day on, our walk events have been rain free since 2008!
In 2010 we changed the title of the walk to the Ellen Jackson Ovarian Cancer Walk in memory of our dear friend. Ellen was at the original meeting and retired as an executive from Buckeye CableSystem. Ellen fought cancer for eight years. One year before her passing, she shared with me that she had just completed her 118th chemo treatment and will continue to fight until her body couldn’t fight anymore. She was very instrumental in getting the OCC to where we are today. We all miss her dearly, but I know she is looking down on us, and when times get tough, she continues to push us forward.
A Continuous Conversation About Ovarian Cancer
Going forward in 2015, I am excited to discuss on ProMedica HealthConnect the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, myths and facts about this disease, the progress research have made with treatments and screening tests, as well as what the OCC is doing to help women in our community along with a few stories from survivors. Please stay tuned each month for my blog post.
For more information about the OCC and ovarian cancer, please visit our website at http://ovarianconnection.org or call 419-866-6622.
Gini Steinke is the Founder & President of the Ovarian Cancer Connection, who’s mission is to educate the northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan community on the early warning signs of ovarian cancer, support research of this devastating disease, and provide financial assistance to survivors in need.